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Potatoes come in a huge assortment of colors, flavors, and textures; and like apples, certain varieties are better suited for certain recipes. It’s important to choose the right potato for the recipe. The quantity and differences of moisture content and starch among different varieties really makes a difference when cooking with potatoes.

Potatoes come in two main categories: starchy and waxy.

Starchy or High-Starch Potatoes

These type of potatoes are lower in moisture, higher in starch and well suited for baking, sautéing and deep-frying because they hold together well, with a dry, mealy flesh when cooked. Most high-starch potatoes have a thicker skin or peel, unlike their thin-skinned, waxy cousins.

Waxy Potatoes

These type of potatoes are higher in moisture, lower in starch content and a flesh that stays moist and cohesive after cooking, making these a better candidate for boiling. Thin-skinned potatoes are the best choice for boiling and salads. They also taste great tossing with olive oil, roasting and home-fries.

There are lots of waxy potatoes available in the supermarket, including Yukon Gold, Fingerling, Yellow Finn, small new potatoes (technically a term that only applies to the small, young potatoes of an early harvest-see below), red-skinned potatoes, All-Blue, to name a few.

So how do you tell a waxy potato from a starchy potato? Cut the potato in half and if you see a gluey foamy substance left on the knife, you’ve most likely just cut into a high starch potato which is good for baking. Waxy potatoes don’t leave that gluey-looking substance behind.

New Potatoes

New potatoes are technically any potato picked before it has reached its maturity, usually in the spring or early summer. They tend to have a more “waxy” texture (low in starch, high in water and hold together well). Because of their thin skins, new potatoes are excellent choices for eating unpeeled, and they’re best boiled or roasted and in soups and salads, similar to waxy potatoes.

Care Tips

Potatoes come in a huge assortment of colors, textures, sizes, and shapes. Regardless of the variety, most potatoes can be cared for the same way, such as:

  • When picking a potato look for firm, plump, potatoes that are free of soft spots, blemishes, and sprouts.
  • Store potatoes in a cool, dark place with good ventilation.
  • Keep at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Stored properly, potatoes can stay fresh for several weeks.
  • Any green areas or areas that have started to sprout should be cut off before cooking.

Potatoes are a mainstay in most households, loved my meat-eaters and vegetarians, alike. Remember to scrub them clean and cook with skins on to retain nutrients. But most of all, don’t feel guilty eating potatoes. Did you know that when comparing apples to potatoes, a 100 calorie potato compared to a 100 calorie apple, the potato has twice as much iron, the same amount of calcium and thirteen times as much ascorbic acid?