The Eternal Potato Question: Which Potatoes Are Best For Baking, Roasting, Mashing, Boiling, Frying?
In this post:
- Brief introduction
- Table 1: potato cooking methods and the type of potato to use for each with links to the methods
- Table 2: comprehensive list of some 150 odd potato types by category – waxy, floury or all-purpose
For a whole host of other posts about potatoes follow this link.
To browse the rest of this site (there are posts on all kinds of surprising things) follow this link.
“I bought a big bag of potatoes and it’s growing eyes like crazy. Other foods rot. Potatoes want to see.”Bill Callahan Letters to Emma Bowlcut
Yes, but how to cook them before they do? And which variety can be used for what? You can’t go too far wrong with a Maris Piper – in the UK more of this type of potato is grown than any other and it’s fine for chips, roast potatoes, mash and wedges.
Here are some helpful guidelines for which readily available potatoes to use for what, and in the table underneath that there is a comprehensive list of potato types and the categories they fall into.
If you want to feel inspired to grow potatoes, watch The Martian – see the trailer at the bottom of this post.
Keep your potatoes in a cool, dark place otherwise the starch will turn to sugar.
If your potatoes have turned green it’s because they’ve been exposed to light which has increased their alkaloid levels. This can be harmful and often causes bitterness – if the potato is big and the green area small you can cut out the green flesh, otherwise toss the whole potato away.
1. Potato cooking methods and type of potato to use
|Cooking method||Potato type|
Recipe: Super-excellent roast potatoes
|Desirée, Cara, King Edward, Maris Piper, Romano, Wilja|
|Baked (in jacket)
Recipe: How to cook the best ever baked potatoes in their jackets
|Estima, Marfona or Viking…. also King Edward and Maris Piper.|
Recipe: Fried potatoes – earthy rich simplicity – a poem of potatoes
|Boiled||Jersey Royals or Yukon Gold|
|Mashed||Russet, Maris Piper or Caribe if you want smooth; Smash if you want instant! Charlotte or Yukon Gold if you like lumpy but more flavour (with effort you can, in fact, achieve a smoother, more velvety texture with waxy potatoes); Highland Burgundy Red and Salad Blue if you want stunning, colourful, looks|
Recipe: German potato salad or Potato salad with smoked salmon
|Pink Fir Apple, Jersey Royals, Cyprus, Jazzy. BUT remember, as Nigel Slater (Kitchen Diaries III) comments “Large, floury-textured potatoes can be wonderful in a salad despite what purists say. The whole ‘salad potato’ dictum is a bit of a red herring.” Rules are made to be broken!|
|King Edward or Maris Piper – although some advocate waxy potatoes, in my view floury are much better.|
|Pommes Anna||Russet (floury); or Desirée, Yukon Gold; fingerlings or Nicola (waxy) probably better. You don’t want them to fall apart|
2. Different potato types and how to use them
|Fluffy, starchy||Waxy||All-purpose, smooth|
|For: roast potatoes, potatoes in their jackets (baked), mashed potatoes, fried potatoes||For: salads, soups and stews.
Includes red-skinned, ‘fingerling’. No need to peel
|OK for roasting, mashing and baking|
|Agria||Adirondack Blue – purple skin and blue-purple flesh – the colour deepens when roasted and fades when mashed. Earthy and nutty to taste. Don’t use for soups.||Accord|
|Bruise||Adirondack Red – red skin with pink flesh which fades with cooking. As for Blue, don’t use in soups.||Allura|
|Arran Victory4||Annabelle||All Blue (again, lives up to its name)|
|Cara (see Picasso in ‘waxy’)||Anya||Apache|
|Caribe (has a purple skin)||Arran Comet||Bintje – a Dutch-bred type, yellow flesh, yellow skin. Very popular in France and Belgium. The potato of choice for frites.|
|Chippewa||Austrian Crescent||Casablanca (chipping, baking or boiling)|
|Daisy||Belle de Fontenay – very popular French variety, good for salads||Desirée|
|Fiana||Carola||Estima (especially good for jacket potatoes)|
|Golden Wonder||Charlotte||Golden Delight|
|Highland Burngundy Red||Cliff Kidney||Harmony|
|Idaho (also Idaho Russet)||Corolle||Karaka|
|Innovator||Duke of York||Kennebec|
|Highland Burgundy Red7||Dutch Creams – very popular, rich, buttery taste. Although waxy are also good roasted, baked, and mashed||Lady Balfour|
|King Edward (red)||French Fingerling, or just Fingerling – approx. five cm long, and thin… like fingers!||Marfona (especially good for jacket potatoes)|
|Lady Claire||Gallante||Maris Bard|
|Maris Anchor||Home Guard||Moonlight|
|Maris Piper (although fluffy, a good all-rounder. Good for chips)||Inca Dawn||Mozart|
|Pentland Crown||Inca Gold||Nadine|
|Pentland Dell||International Kidney AGM – good buttery flavour||Norland Red|
|Pentland Ivory||Jersey Royal||Otway Red, red skin, cream flesh|
|Jersey Bennes||Pentland Dell|
|Pentland Squire||Kestrel||Pontiac (good for everything except frying)|
|Red Duke of York5||Kipfler||Purple Majesty (lives up to its name – looks amazing)|
|Russet||La Bonnotte||Purple Passion – excellent cooker, especially for chips or boiled|
|Russet Burbank||Lady Christl AGM||Purple Peruvian, deep purple skin, and usually marbled white and inky purple. Dry and starchy texture with a slightly nutty flavour|
|Salad Blue6||La Ratte (many say better than Charlotte||Red Duke of York5|
|Sarpo Mira||Majestic||Red King (New Zealand)|
|Shetland Black||Maris Piper and Maris Peer9||Red Rascal|
|Patrone – good in salads, don’t mash||Rooster3|
|Pentland Javelin||Royal Blue, purple skin, good mash and roasties|
|Picasso. Bred from Cara, has the same creamy skin and striking bright red eyes.||Rua|
|Pink Eye (nutty flavour)||Saxon|
|Pink Fir Apple AGM (wonderful!)||Sebago (Australian)|
|Premiere||Spunta (good in salads)|
|Purple Congo – purple skin, can be a bit dry, don’t roast||Toolangi Delight (Australian) – makes good gnocchi|
|Purple Heart – deep purple flesh – salads, boiled or microwaved||Vales Sovereign|
|Purple Viking||Van Rosa (very red skin)|
|Red Bliss, bright red skin, slightly bitter. Don’t use for mashing||Vivaldi|
|Red Duke of York5||Wilja|
|Red Rose||Yukon Gold|
|Red Thumb||Yellow Finn (or Finnish)|
|Rose Finn Apple|
|Rose Gold – don’t mash|
|Southern Gold (aka Pink Eye, see above)|
Notes on the table above:
1. Cyprus potatoes are widely used in the middle east where the Jersey Royal might be used in Britain
2. Jazzy is the brand name for a small, waxy, set-skinnned potato. It’s grown in Britain by a group of five farmers based in Cornwall, Norfolk and Lancashire.
3. Rooster is another brand name – a very popular and versatile potato
4. Arran Victory had a true victory with Heston Blumenthal who identified it as the best potato for making chips. “It had the perfect balance of flavour and texture: the glass-like exterior crunching apart readily, the interior soft and delicately fluffy. It’s the contrast of the two that makes a great chip – the mix of two very different textures giving the mouth a sublime surprise – and Arran Victory really delivered that” he relates in his book Total Perfection.
5. Red Duke of York can be eaten as a new potato if harvested early, but is also very good as a baked, jacket potato if left to mature
6. Salad Blue – keeps its bluish colour when roasted and boiled and produces spectacular purple-blue mash
7. Highland Burgundy Red – produces a spectacular bright red mash. Sweet flavour, also good steamed and roasted
8. If you cook potatoes at least 24 hours before eating and then put them in the fridge some of their digestible starches will become resistant, which makes the starches behave more like fibre and is better for you…. not a lot of people know that!
9. Maris Piper… and other potatoes incorporating Maris in their name are named after Maris Lane, the address in Cambridge where the institute that bred them was based. ‘Piper’ was chosen at random simply because it was a word beginning with ‘P’… for ‘potato’.
Potato-related clip to watch
Get inspired to grow potatoes…. watch The Martian.