Which potato for what job?
Do you always go for a good all-rounder type? I am talking about potatoes of course! Choosing which potatoes to buy can be a little confusing especially as most of the time one needs a potato that is good for roasting, baking and mashing etc and hence why the all-rounder varieties are the most popular.
If you have experienced potatoes disintegrating when boiled, baked potatoes that never soften, soggy chips and lumpy mash – read on…
Choosing the perfect potato
The way a potato performs depends on the level of starch. High starch potatoes are the best ones for baking, mashing and chips. Their cells tend to separate when cooked, making them great for soaking up butter and milk for mash but they will also absorb water when boiled making them unsuitable for boiled and salad potatoes.
All purpose potatoes are medium starch ones that are moister and tend to hold their shape well. They are best roasted or made into a gratin.
Low starch potatoes are generally waxy and are great for salads.
The following list covers those potatoes generally found in retailers including some slightly more unusual varieties to look out for.
|Cara are white-skinned, with creamy flesh, pink eyes and a soft, waxy texture. They are great for mash and perfect for baked potato.||Mash
|Charlotte||Charlotte are small, deep yellow fleshed potato with a firm waxy texture. They make a lovely salad potato, hot or cold, and are also great for baking, boiling, steaming or sautéing.||Salads
Boiling Steaming Baking
|Desiree||Desiree have a red or pink skin with a yellow and creamy flesh. They have a deep flavour making them suitable for many forms of cookery such as boiling, baked, roasting, chips and sauté.||Baking
|Estima||Estima has a pale yellow skin, with a firm, moist texture and mild flavour. It makes great mash and baked potatoes.||MashBaking|
|King Edward||This is a traditional English potato, with red tinges to the skin. It has a floury texture making it ideal for baking and roasting.||Boiling Mash BakingRoastChips|
|Lady Balfour||This variety was named after Lady Eve Balfour – a pioneer of the UK organic movement. It is an extremely versatile variety and can work in many different potato recipes. It has a uniform oval shape, creamy skin and pale tasty flesh and is good for baking, mash, roast, chips and wedges.||BakingMashRoastChipsWedges|
|Marfona||They have a golden brown skin, buttery taste and fluffy texture and are ideal for mash, baking and sometimes roasting.||MashBakingRoasting|
|Maris Piper||This is one of the best varieties for chipping but can also be used in simple recipes like roasting, baking and mashing. It is a white fleshed potato with a dry floury texture and full flavor.||BakingMashRoastingChipsWedges|
|Nicola||Nicola have a creamy yellow skin and yellow flesh, with a firm, waxy texture. It works best in salads.||SaladBoilingSteaming|
|Purple Potatoes||They were first used in the Peruvian Andes, the ancestral home of most modern potatoes. They’re good steamed, and they make delicious potato salad, too. Or turn them into a smooth-textured purple purée.||SteamingSaladPurée|
|Rooster||The Rooster potato has red skin and shallow eyes. It is a floury potato with a full flavour and is a good all rounder in the kitchen. It is particularly suitable for boiling, mashing, roasting, steaming, baking and also good in soups.||BoilingSteamingMashRoastingBaking|
New Potatoes are those that are harvested in spring and early summer before they have matured. They should be firm with translucent skins and are delicious boiled, steamed, used in salads or roasted in foil. They should be eaten within a few days of purchase but may be kept for a short time in a refrigerator.
Buying and Storage
Avoid potatoes that have started to turn green. This means they have been exposed to too much light and have started to produce solanine which is a mildly poisonous alkaloid that causes a bitter taste and can cause an upset stomach.
Store your potatoes in a dark, cool, dry place and if they start to turn green, peel or cut off the green bits before cooking. Storing potatoes for too long at low temperatures (ie. in a refrigerator) will cause their starch to convert to sugar and will result in a sweet tasting potato. It may also cause discolouration when cooking. To avoid this discolouration, allow the potato to come to room temperature before cooking.
Sprouting potatoes means they have started to grow. It may be that they have been stored in too warm conditions. Just cut the sprouts off before cooking.