I confess — I have never met a potato I didn’t like! So, I am happy that we are in potato season! And recently, potatoes have gotten a bad wrap. I’d like to set the record straight. Great news! Potatoes are GOOD FOR YOU! They are a great source of potassium, Vitamin C, fiber, iron and Vitamin B6. They are inexpensive, easy to cook, and delicious — need I say more?
Now, what are you going to do with your potatoes?
- chive gnocchetti with peaches and tomatoes
- rosemary smashed potatoes
- marvelous mashed potatoes
- roasted potato salad
- cold potato soup
How do I choose the right potato for my recipe?
Choosing the right potato for a recipe will determine a dish’s success. Seven categories of potatoes are grown here in Washington — which makes the question of which potato to choose a bit confusing.
To make sense of this confusion, it is helpful to group potatoes into three major categories based on their ratio of solids (mostly starch) to water. Potatoes are composed mostly of starch, water and fiber. The categories are high-starch/low-moisture potatoes, medium-starch potatoes, and low-starch/high-moisture potatoes. In high-starch potatoes, the starch cells are completely full of starch — they look like plump little water balloons. In medium-starch and low-starch potatoes, the cells are more like underinflated water balloons. The space between these less-than-full cells is taken up mostly by water.
Earthy flavored russets are long, with a thicker brown rough skin and are the best choice for fluffy French fries and roasted potatoes. Their low moisture content causes these potatoes to soak up liquid if they are cooked in water or other water-based liquid. In a liquid environment, russets lose their shape and eventually they break apart — this is good if you want your soup thickened. In the dry heat of the oven, baking these potatoes evaporates some of the moisture, giving you a fluffy, light inside to your baked potato. Russets are best for French fries. The low moisture content creates less splatter in the hot fat, and a light, fluffy inside of each fry.
Yellow potatoes like Yukon Golds, Yellow Finns tend to be rich, and their yellow color suggests a butteriness, so less fat can be used, making these my potato of choice for marvelous mashed potatoes. Medium starch potatoes do a better job of holding their shape when cooked in liquid.
Purple or blue potatoes fall into this category, adding color and nuttiness to salad.
Sometimes called boiling or “waxy” potatoes, this variety holds their shape better than other potatoes when simmered. This category includes all red-skinned potatoes, and white potatoes. as well as freshly dug potatoes, which are often labeled “new” potatoes. Low-starch potatoes should be selected when potatoes are to hold their shape, like in a soup or salad.
- New potatoes,also known as petite potatoes,are not one particular variety; they are just young potatoes harvested early in the season. This class of potatoes is ideal for boiling, frying and roasting. Fingerlings are ideal for roasting and frying, as their small size allows them to cook quickly, and they hold their shape for beautiful presentation on your plate.
Regardless of variety, chose potatoes free of sprouts, cracks, wrinkles, decay or green areas. Buy only as many as you will use within two weeks.
Store the potatoes in a cool place, around 50°F with plenty of ventilation — not in a plastic bag, nor in the refrigerator.