How to pick the right potato variety for the job
Canadians love potatoes. Favourite preparation methods include mashed, roasted and baked – either alone or in a casserole. However, it’s important to choose the right potato variety to ensure a quality eating experience. Here’s a quick overview.
Baking Potatoes: These starchy potatoes generally have a very thick skin. When they cook, their texture becomes dry so they are perfect for light and fluffy baked and roasted potatoes. Traditionally, they have been recommended for mashed potatoes but because they are absorbent, unless they have a lot of butter and cream added to them – the mash they make can be gluey. For today’s palate, a white or yellow potato is better suited to make smooth, mashed potatoes.
Examples: Russet Burbank, Russet Norkotah, Frontier Russet and Shepody. Also called Idaho potatoes.
Yellow, white and red potatoes have less starch than bakers. They usually also have a thinner skin, and can be boiled, baked, roasted, steamed, pan fried, and grilled. When these potatoes cook, they hold their shape well, making them a good addition to a potato salad, soup, or stew.
Whites are usually large, round or oval with light to medium skin and white flesh. They are very versatile and taste delicious boiled, steamed, mashed, French fried, roasted, scalloped, and au gratin.
Examples: Superior, Kennebec, Cherokee, and Envol
Red potatoes have rosy red, thin and somewhat glossy skins. They tend to hold their shape very well when cooked and are well suited for roasting, boiling, steaming, baking, sautéed, salads and soups.
Examples: Chieftain, Rideau, Norland and Sangre.
Yellow fleshed potatoes are round or oval in shape with light gold, thin skin and light yellow flesh.
Examples: A Yukon gold is perhaps the best known yellow potato and is considered to be among the best all-purpose varieties. It has a golden buttery flavoured flesh.
HEIRLOOM POTATO VARIETIES:
Heirloom Potatoes come in many different varieties! Heirloom potatoes can come in different colours like red, purple, white, and yellow. Some of them can be small like fingerlings, or big and round. Some are sweeter; some are starchier. You’ll just have to try them to see what each variety tastes like! You can grill, bake, roast, boil, or even pan-fry them.
Purple or blue heirloom potatoes typically have naturally occurring purple or blue skin and purple flesh. These have a deeper flavour that’s great for savoury dishes.
Pink or red heirloom potatoes often will have a pink or red skin with yellow flesh. They’re much like yellow potatoes but some varieties may range in starchiness to yield different textures and flavours.
Yellow heirloom potatoes are beige-skinned with a yellow, creamy flesh. They often have a buttery flavour, and can range in starchiness like red heirloom potatoes.