Different types of potato
Boiling potato; waxy potato; new potato; low starch potato:
Potatoes in this category keep their shape after cooking, so they are good for making potato salads or for eating early in the season as part of the traditional meal. They are not good for mashing, baking, or making chips. Examples of waxy potatoes: Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple, new potatoes and salad potatoes. If you cook Charlotte for long enough, and mash it, it has a very unattractive, sticky texture and a poor flavour. I did this once, as a curiosity. It was edible, just.
New potatoes are immature potatoes harvested in the spring and early summer. They have flimsy, thin skins which you can remove with your fingers. They have high moisture content, low starch, and often (but not always) a waxy texture. Examples of waxy new potatoes: Jersey Royal, most salad potatoes, Record, Rocket.
These are usually potatoes with a high dry matter content, which means lots of starch. They are good for mashing, frying, baking and for chips. They are good for boiling/steaming too - BUT you must stand over them whilst they are cooking, otherwise they will fall apart. Remove the heat as soon as the knife goes in, or the skins begin to crack. They cook slower when steamed. As for frying - the harder and drier the potato, the better it will fry; you can judge this when you cut it through with a knife. Examples of floury potatoes: Golden Wonder, British Queen, Maris Piper, Edzell Blue, Shetland Black. Golden Wonder is very very dry in texture and fries better than any other potato I have met. Maris Piper is the chip shop favourite.
Multi Purpose potatoes; all-round potatoes
potatoes have a medium starch content. Some of them have a reasonable flavour, but in the main the taste is bland and the texture is moist and stodgy. They are sold everywhere because they are easy to cook. The only reason for buying them is that you can cook them any way you like and nothing disastrous happens. They are responsible for people saying that potatoes no longer have any flavour. Examples- Nadine (the worst offender), Romano. Some of them improve a little on keeping - they go more floury on storage so are a bit better for mashing and baking.
Better multi-purpose potatoes:
Desiree isn't bad for chips; I almost put it in the "floury" category because it also mashes quite well, and the flavour is much better than Nadine. Wilja also has a better flavour and texture than most multi-purpose types.
Purple Fleshed Potatoes
These have an interesting colour when mashed and in salads. The starch content is average - midway between floury and waxy - and the flavour is usually average to good. They will go mushy if cooked too long. Cook as for "floury" - knife at the ready, and steaming is probably better than boliling. Examples- Salad Blue, Congo.
Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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