What is white potato?

Potato varieties: choose from low starch, medium starch, and high starch. When it comes to cooking potatoes, choose your potato for the style of cooking you have in mind.

Which potato?

When it comes to cooking potatoes, choose your potato for the style of cooking you have in mind.

  • Use high starch potatoes for baking, frying, and mashing.
  • Use medium starch potatoes for steaming, baking, roasting, grilling, and au gratin dishes.
  • Use low starch potatoes for boiling, roasting, grilling, sautés, stews, salads, and au gratin dishes.

When you are standing in front of bins of potatoes, which variety or type of potato will cook up the way you want it to?

A guide to potato varieties and types:

• Russet potatoes—also called old potatoes, baking potatoes, or Idaho potatoes (if they were grown in Idaho)—have an oblong, elliptical shape, and a rough, netted, brown skin with numerous eyes and white flesh. Russets grow from 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) long and about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

Russets are low in moisture and high in starch so they cook up dry and fluffy. Russets are suited for baking, mashing, and deep frying (French fries). Top varieties are russet Burbank, russet Norkotahs, russet Arcadia, and russet Butte.

• Long white potatoes–also called white rose or California long whites (because they were developed in California)—have an elliptical shape and a thin ivory white to pale gray-brown skin with imperceptible eyes. Long whites grow from 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) long and about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

Long whites have a medium to low starch content and are moister than russets. You can use long whites for boiling, baking, or deep frying. Long whites keep their shape when cooked.

• Fingerlings—are thumb-sized potatoes that grow to about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Fingerlings are thin skinned and can be cooked unpeeled—baked, boiled, steamed, fried, and roasted. They are low in starch with a waxy texture and hold together well after cooking. They are yellow fleshed with a rich, buttery texture.

Fingerling varieties include Ruby crescent fingerlings, Russian banana fingerlings, long white fingerlings, and purple Peruvian fingerlings.

• Yellow potatoes—are usually round to slightly oblong shaped potatoes with thin, yellowish light brown skins, and buttery yellow to golden waxy flesh. Yellow potatoes are low to medium in starch and have a moist, creamy, succulent texture with a buttery flavor. They are well suited for boiling, steaming, mashing, roasting, grilling, and au gratin dishes.

Yellow flesh potato varieties include Yukon gold, yellow Finn, German Butterball, Carola, Nicola, and Alby’s Gold.

• Round white potatoes—are medium-sized, round with a light tan to freckled brown skin and waxy to creamy textured flesh. Round whites are moist with low to medium starch. They are well suited for boiling, roasting, frying, and mashing. Round whites hold their shaped after cooking.

Round whites are grown mostly in the Northeastern United States. Round white varieties include Kennebec, Superior, and Atlantic.

• Round red potatoes— also called new potatoes (because they are small), red bliss potatoes and boiling potatoes–are medium-sized, round, rose to reddish-brown skinned potatoes with a dense, crisp white flesh. Round reds are low in starch and are sweeter tasting than round whites. Choose round reds for boiling, roasting, grilling, sautés, stews, salads, and au gratin dishes. You can serve round reds cooked whole.

Round reds are mostly grown in the Northwestern United States. Round red varieties include red Norland and red Pontiac.

• Purple potatoes or blue potatoes—are heirloom potatoes with grayish blue to purple skins and usually inky blue flesh. They are delicate flavored. Purple and blue skinned potatoes are low in starch and can be boiled, steamed, roasted, fried, mashed, or served in stews, salads, and au gratin dishes.

Blue and purple potatoes are probably descended from the original potatoes from Peru which were the same color. Purple flesh potato varieties include All Blue, which is dry and good for roasting; Purple Peruvian which is good fried; and Purple Viking which has good flavor and is good mashed.

• Other heirloom potatoes–include two red skinned and red fleshed potatoes: Huckleberry and Blossom. Both of these potatoes are low in starch and can be boiled, steamed, roasted, fried, mashed, or served in stews, salads and au gratin dishes.

• New Potatoes–is a term for any variety of potato that has been harvested before it has reached maturity. (However, mature round red potatoes are also called new potatoes simply because they are small.) New potatoes are also called baby potatoes and sometimes creamers. They can be as small as marble-sized.

New potatoes are harvested when their leaves are still green—most potatoes are harvested after their leaves have turned yellow or brown—and before their sugar has begun to convert to starch. New potatoes are thin skinned and very moist with a crisp, waxy textured flesh.

New potatoes often come to market in the spring and early summer. They are never kept in storage because of their high sugar content. New potatoes are great for cooking whole, boiling, or pan roasting. They keep their shape after cooking and are good used in potato salads.

Storing potatoes or storage potatoes–come from mature plants whose leafy tops have yellowed and died back. Storing potatoes should be dried or cured before they are stored. Potatoes are usually cured for a period of 4 to 5 days at about 60-70ºF (16-21°C). Curing allows cuts and surface injuries of the tuber to “heal.”

Well-matured potatoes without defects are the best keepers. Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Potatoes can be stored for up to 6 months.

Good storing potatoes include Norkotah, Goldrush, Butte, Katahdin, Caribe, and red Norland.

More tips at How to Grow Potatoes.

Varieties Of White Potato – Growing Potatoes That Are White

In the United States, more than 200 varieties of potatoes are sold comprised of seven types of potato: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. Each has its own unique characteristics. Some potatoes are better for certain recipes than others, but if you are looking for an all-purpose potato, try growing some of the white potato varieties. The following article contains information on the numerous types of potatoes that are white.

Types of White Potatoes

There are really only two types of potatoes that are white: round white and long white.

Round white are probably the most common varieties of white potato in use. They are easily identified by their smooth, thin light tan skin, white flesh and round shape. They are extremely versatile and can be used for baking, boiling, frying, mashing, roasting, or steaming.

Long white potatoes are really more of an oval shape, again with thin, light tan skin. They have a medium level of starch and are used for boiling, frying and microwaving.

Compared to Russets, white potatoes have a smoother, thinner, lighter colored skin. The skins are so thin that they add a slight pleasant texture to creamy mashed potatoes and yet hold their shape when boiled.

Some of the dozens of varieties of white potato cultivars include:

  • Allegany
  • Andover
  • Elba
  • Eva
  • Genesee
  • Katahdin
  • Norwis
  • Onaway
  • Reba
  • Salem
  • Superior

Other options include the following:

  • Atlantic
  • Beacon Chipper
  • CalWhite
  • Cascade
  • Chipeta
  • Gemchip
  • Irish Cobbler
  • Itasca Ivory Crisp
  • Kanona
  • Kennebec
  • Lamoka
  • Monona
  • Monticello
  • Norchip
  • Ontario
  • Pike
  • Sebago
  • Shepody
  • Snowden
  • Waneta
  • White Pearl
  • White Rose

Growing White Potatoes

White potatoes can be grown in many locations but are a particular favorite in the warmer climates of the southern United States where the thick-skinned varieties do not grow well.

Purchase certified tubers and cut them so the least amount of cut surface is exposed but that each piece has two eyes. Allow the cut pieces to dry for a day prior to planting.

Potatoes thrive in sandy loam with a pH of between 4.8 and 5.4 amended with plenty of organic matter that is loose and well-draining. Many people plant them in raised beds, which is ideal as it improves drainage. Amend the soil with manure or compost in the early spring and till or spade it in well.

Space the seed potatoes in rows that are 15 inches (38 cm.) apart by 24 inches (61 cm.). Plant the seeds 4 inches (10 cm.) deep with the eyes facing up. Tamp the soil down lightly and cover with straw or other mulch.

Fertilize with a complete 10-10-10 food. When the sprouts have pushed out from the soil, begin hilling soil around them. Fluff up straw or other mulch over the potatoes to protect them from the sun.

Keep the crop regularly irrigated and weed free. When the plants begin to yellow and the lower leaves die off, reduce the irrigation. This is an indication that the plants will soon be ready to harvest and you don’t want the tuber to rot from too much water late in the season.

When the plants turn yellow, carefully dig up the potatoes. Spread them out to dry off but don’t wash them until just prior to use. Store them in a cool, dark area out of direct sunlight which will cause them to turn green and become inedible.

A Complete Guide to 12 Types of Potatoes

  1. Red Bliss: One of the most commonly available red-skinned varieties, Red Bliss potatoes have moist, white flesh with a high sugar content. They’re usually classified as waxy and can turn gummy when used for mashed potatoes. Red Bliss potatoes are ideal for boiling and will not crisp when fried or roasted. Chef Thomas Keller likes to boil Red Bliss potatoes alongside Yukon Golds for his authentic German potato salad, or to roast them with chicken.
  2. Russet (aka Burbank or Idaho): Large, oblong Russets have rough, spotty brown skin and white flesh. Hybridized in the 1870s, Russet potatoes became popular as a source for fast food french fries, and now make up about 70 percent of United States potato sales. The classic example of a starchy white potato, Russets are high in amylose and become mealy and dry when cooked. They’re ideal for baked potatoes because their skins become crispy when baked, and their flesh easily absorbs butter and sour cream. Steam Russets for Chef Keller’s perfect potato gnocchi recipe.
  3. La Ratte: This French heirloom fingerling variety is very dense and holds a lot of fat, which is why it’s Chef Keller’s favorite potato to use for puréed potatoes. La Rattes have thin golden skin and waxy yellow flesh that holds its shape when cooked, making them good for roasting, as well. They have a buttery, hazelnutty flavor.
  4. Yukon Gold: Yukon Golds were developed in the ’60s and named after the Yukon River in Canada. They’re very high in vitamin C, with firm, dry, fine-textured flesh high in amylopectin. Chef Keller uses Yukon Golds in his potato rösti recipe and says they’re the next best thing to La Rattes for puréeing and mashing.
  5. Kennebec: One of the most common varieties in the US, lumpy Kennebecs were developed in the 1940s. They have thin, tan skin with brown spots and white flesh that’s high in amylopectin. They’re all-purpose potatoes that maintain their shape when cooked, making them good for fries, potato chips, and hash browns.
  6. Cranberry Red (aka All-Red): These medium-size potatoes have red skin with tan webbing and pink flesh that’s soft and moist due to a high amylose content. They’re good all-purpose potatoes for steaming and sautéing, with an earthy, nutty flavor and creamy texture. Use Cranberry Reds in scalloped potatoes, ratatouille, potato salad, soups, stews, and curries.
  7. All Blue: Long potatoes with dark blue skin and blue flesh, try sautéing All Blues for frittatas, baking into a gratin, or boiling for colorful potato salad.
  8. Red Thumb: With thin red skin and pink flesh, waxy Red Thumbs are considered the least starchy variety of fingerling potato, and the sweetest. Try them in red potato salad or roasted with rosemary and whole garlic cloves.
  9. Russian Banana: One of the most popular fingerlings, Russian Bananas have yellow skin and flesh that’s very waxy and moist. They’re great roasted and smashed.
  10. German Butterball: Medium potatoes with golden, smooth skin and yellow tender flesh, German Butterballs are beloved for their rich, buttery flavor. They’re versatile potatoes that can be steamed, baked, fried, or mashed.
  11. Purple Majesty: One of the most flavorful blue potatoes, Purple Majesty is a medium-size potato with smooth, dark blue skin and purple flesh that’s high in antioxidants. These all-purpose potatoes remain firm and moist after cooking, making them a good choice for chips.
  12. New Potatoes: Potatoes are typically harvested in the fall and “cured” underground for a few weeks to extend their shelf life, but almost any variety of potato can be harvested in the spring while young, small, and waxy. New potatoes are more perishable than mature potatoes, and typically only available at farmers’ markets. If you’re lucky enough to find some, try making Gordon Ramsay’s rack of lamb with new potatoes.

Find more culinary techniques in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.

Starchy Potatoes

We’ve all heard the sage advice: use starchy potatoes for mashed potatoes and waxy potatoes for potato salad. That’s great, but if you’re like me, you want to know the reasons behind the advice. What makes some types of potatoes better for certain potato dishes than others?

As a former restaurant chef, I’m a self-proclaimed expert in potatoes. My restaurants went through 400 pounds of potatoes a week! A week! That’s a lot of peeling, blanching, dicing, boiling, roasting, and frying. I learned some lessons the hard way, using the wrong type of potato for the wrong task. So let’s dive in and look at each potato variety’s strengths and weaknesses.

Alton Brown says if it looks like Mr. Potato Head, it’s probably the right choice for baked potatoes. Russet potatoes and Idaho potatoes fall into this category (and they do look a lot like my old childhood friend).

Starchy potatoes are low in moisture and high in starch. They break down easily when cooked, making them ideal for mashed potatoes. They’re also super absorbent, which means they’re going to take in all of that delicious butter and cream you throw at them.

How do you know a potato is starchy from the other potato types? The white flesh or yellow flesh will coat your knife with a white, milky film when you cut into it.

When to Use Starchy Potatoes

Baked Potatoes: Bake the potatoes in a 375 degree F oven, pop them in the microwave, or toss them on the grill. Our comprehensive guide will have you making the best baked potatoes of your life in no time!

Mashed Potatoes: Boil the potatoes in large chunks until they are fork tender. Mash ’em with an old-fashioned hand masher, or a rice mill. If you have the time, you can even make them in the slow cooker using this recipe.

Hasselback Potatoes: These impressive looking Hasselback potatoes can be made with either starchy or waxy potatoes, but we love the way the butter and oil melt into starchy potato’s fluffy interior. Yum!

Potato Pancakes (Latkes): Classic potato pancakes needs a starchy potato that holds its shape while frying, leaving the inside a creamy and gorgeous melty pile of potato. The light yellow flesh also fries up to a beautiful golden brown.

French Fries: The starch content of Russets or Idaho potatoes make them an excellent candidate for french fries. So long as you blanch them before frying them (like in this recipe), they’ll be soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

What to Watch for with Starchy Potatoes

Starchy potatoes break down really easily, making them a poor choice for potato salad or potatoes au gratin. They’re great for soups when used to add body (especially in puréed soups like a great potato cheese soup), but they break down too much if the goal is to have chunks of potatoes.

While starchy potatoes are absolutely perfect for mashed potatoes, be careful not to overwork them. Potatoes become gummy and gluey when the starches are overworked, resulting in a sad, disappointing plate of mashers.

Waxy Potatoes

Waxy potatoes are characterized by a thin, papery skin that can be scratched off using your fingernail. Red skin potatoes, new potatoes, and fingerling potatoes all fall into this category.

These potatoes have a lower starch content and a waxy texture, so they hold their shape well as they cook. They have a creamy flesh that sort of melts in your mouth as you eat it. While they have more characteristic “potato” flavor than their starchy counterparts, they are well complemented by mayonnaise dressings, olive oil and rosemary, and mustard. Their firmer flesh is perfect for recipes that use chunkier potatoes because it won’t fall apart at a high temperature.

When to Use Waxy Potatoes

Gimme Some Oven

Potato Salad: You can roast or boil potatoes for potato salad, but using a waxy variety will guarantee the potatoes’ firm texture won’t fall apart when you bring the ingredients together. This recipe is sure to make you appreciate everything the red potato brings to the table!

Soup: Since waxy potatoes hold their structure well, they stay together when simmered in soup. They absorb the cooking liquid well without breaking down, making them perfect for a hearty leek and potato soup.

Scalloped Potatoes: Waxy potatoes are perfect for scalloped potatoes as the slices hold their shape throughout the cooking process. They’re rich, they’re decadent, and this recipe might become a staple in every holiday meal from here on out!

What to Watch for with Waxy Potatoes

Waxy potatoes can become dense and heavy when baked. This is perfect for scalloped potatoes or potato casserole, but they won’t become fluffy and light, making them less than ideal for use as a traditional baked potato.

They also have a tendency to become gummy and gluey when mashed, so never use them for mashed potatoes.

All-Purpose Potatoes

All-purpose potatoes are exactly what they sound like: good for almost every use! Yukon Gold, blue, and purple potatoes fall in this category. They’re semi-starchy, semi-waxy potatoes that bake well, roast well, and boil well.

When to Use All-Purpose Potatoes

Serious Eats

Roasted Potatoes – These potatoes are simple, celebrating the flavor of potatoes as it cooks with complimentary flavors of rosemary and garlic. This recipe uses duck fat, making it particularly decadent, but you can use olive oil, too.

Gnocchi – These little dumplings are like perfect little pillows. Yukon Gold potatoes make especially good gnocchi, with enough starch to help limit the amount of flour required to hold them together. This recipe is a perfect introduction to your first from-scratch gnocchi.

What to Watch for with All-Purpose Potatoes


All-purpose potatoes work for most dishes, but be aware that they are neither a starchy or waxy potato. We prefer making mashed potatoes with a starchy variety, and scalloped potatoes with a waxy variety. The all-purpose potatoes don’t have enough of either type to make it the best choice for these dishes. Other than that, an all-purpose variety should work well enough!

Want more details? Check out the handy chart above from our friends at The Kitchn.

Watch: How to Make Chewy Potato Chip Cookies

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About long white potatoes Edit

The long white potatoes are included in the large solanum potato family and they present a tuber in an oval shape, with a thin and pale or light tan skin and they are medium in starch. The long white potatoes are very popular and intensively grown in California and they are consumed mostly during spring and summer. These potatoes include approximately 75 % water and the rest is made of carbohydrates and mineral salts. Due to their properties, these potatoes are recommended to obese people and in diabetes cases, as they are considered to be very digestive and rich. The long white potatoes are also energetic aliments, which ease the intestinal functions and can replace bread and pastas in low calories diets.

Due to the fact that their flesh is white, these kind of potatoes are mostly boiled, as they mash easily and form a soft and creamy texture when cooked. The long white potato chips are smoother and less firm than the red potato chips and the long white potato salads have a more delicate texture.


  • General & History
  • Culinary Types
  • Buying & Storing
  • Cooking Methods
  • Potato Products
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Links.

General & History

Potatoes originated in southern Peru and were already an important cultivated crop in Peru and Chile 10,000 years ago. They are well adapted to growing at high altitudes and under harsh conditions. Photo © i0013.

Brought to Spain from Peru in 1565, potatoes were first grown as a curiosity in botanical gardens. They were so obviously relatives of the toxic black nightshade most people didn’t taken them seriously as a food crop. Spanish and French sailors, however, found eating potatoes warded off scurvy, a much more serious threat than a little poisoning.

The English claim Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland through his Irish estate around 1589. It is said they came from Virginia, but this story is probably not true. They were probably introduced to Ireland from a ship of the Spanish Armada wrecked on the Irish coast.

A story holds, Sir Walter Raleigh later sent some to Queen Elizabeth. A royal banquet featuring potatoes was ordered, but the cooks were not instructed. They tossed the root tubers and cooked the greens. There was great sickness in court that day and potatoes were banned by order of the Queen. I have not been able to verify this story, but even if it isn’t true, it ought to be.

Germans were the first to take potatoes seriously as food, in hopes of supplementing failure prone wheat crops. They tried very hard to make bread out of them and that didn’t work (“potato bread” is almost all wheat). Having failed, but with substantial plantings, the Germans tried feeding potatoes to their pigs. The pigs ate them with gusto, and the Germans figured that many pigs just could not be wrong – so they learned to boil, fry and bake potatoes as vegetables.

A Frenchman named Parmentier learned about potatoes in Prussian POW camp during the 7 years war. He introduced them to France by agreement with king Louis XVI. The French found their dogs wouldn’t eat them so would have nothing to do with them. Parmentier planted 100 acres of the king’s land with potatoes, and the king’s soldiers kept them under 24 hour armed guard. One day the soldiers were given the night off and potatoes were soon growing all over France.

In Ireland potatoes became particularly important after the English conquest of the early to mid 1600s. The English took all the good land, all the money, cut the forests to build ships, and shipped most food crops directly to England. The Irish, left landless and unemployed, had nothing to do except eat potatoes and procreate. This resulted in a huge population increase. Then came the potato blight of 1845 to 1849. The population was reduced by about half (from around 9 million to a bit over 4 million) through starvation, disease and emigration.

Though brought over by Irish immigrants, potatoes were still viewed with suspicion in North America until about 1900 when a potato variety developed by Luther Burbank became widely grown in Idaho. It was soon accepted in most of North America.

Potato developers continue to experiment with new varieties and cross breeding with ancient varieties from Peru and Chile (our commercial potatoes are mostly of Chilean ancestry). We now have potatoes of many kinds, sizes and colors with different flavors and cooking properties to chose from.

Culinary Types

Washington State University (P1) lists 575 varieties of potato grown in North America. Thousands more are grown in Peru alone and more than 5000 worldwide. Those listed here are typical of the types sold in North America. The exact variety can be critically important to food processors and fast food chains, but home cooks can just go with the general type and be fine.

A note on names – not only do many older varieties go under different names in different regions, newer varieties often have names trademarked by the developers. Other developers may produce almost identical potatoes but must call them by a different (often similar) name.

Of course, the cultivars I have listed here are all North American since that’s what’s available in my local markets. For British varieties see the excellent Potato Council Web site. Australians have some of each and then some.

Baking Potatoes:

These potatoes have thick, rough (russeted) medium brown skins, low sugar and a high starch content with amylose starch predominating. They have a dry, mealy flesh and are preferred for baking and mashing. The photo specimens were 5.4 inches long and 2.7 inches wide, weighing 10-5/8 ounces.

These should never be wrapped in foil for baking. They should not be used in soups and stews unless they are primarily a thickener because they will disintegrate. They are very good for frying – some cooks feel they are the only potato worth frying. Baking potatoes have good storage properties and can easily keep for weeks in a cool dark place with good air circulation.

The common Russet Burbank was developed by Luther Burbank as a blight resistant potato for Ireland, since the Irish would apparently rather starve than eat any other kind – and russets are the only kind used there to this day.

Boiling Potatoes:

These potatoes with smooth thin skins come in a variety of colors but all have a firm, almost waxy flesh. They are relatively low in starch with amylopectin predominating and have a relatively high sugar content. Actual performance for boiling is specific to varieties but they generally stay firm.

They are not good for baking and don’t work well for mashing either, producing a heavy, lumpy mash. They are best where you want potatoes, slices or cubes to remain intact through wet cooking, particularly in soups and stews. Round white potatoes predominate in the Northeast US while only red varieties are found in the Northwest and California.

Round White


Round whites are the potatoes called “Maine” or “Eastern”, but all these terms are highly deceptive. Atlantic, for instance, is a “round white” potato widely grown in Maine, but it is suitable only for potato chips and isn’t any better for boiling than a Russet. Fortunately it only occasionally enters the fresh potato market because most are shipped directly to chippers, but when they do it can mean disaster for a dinner recipe. Plenty of russets are grown in Maine.

Superior is the most grown for the fresh market, followed by Norwis and Ontario, but they’ll seldom be marked by variety. Round whites are almost never seen on the West Coast where reds are the dominant boiling potatoes. Photo © i0012.

Red La Soda

Red boiling potatoes are grown in California (mostly Red La Soda, but also Chieftain) and the US Southeast. They’re round potatoes with deep red skin and white flesh. Peak season is winter and storage properties are good. Excellent boiling potatoes with very good flavor. Excellent for Potato Salads. These hold together well for cubing after boiling in the skins, and the thin skin is easily peeled off.

The photo specimens were, for the largest, 3.75 inches length and across x 2.7 inches thick. The smallest was 1.6 inches long and across, 1.4 inches thick and weighed 1-1/4 ounces.

Red Bliss

This potato is markedly red with a thin, slightly flaky skin and crisp white flesh. They are grown in California primarily as a “New Potato” and are also grown farther north and into Canada. They are much in demand by chefs and gourmets and are called for by upscale food writers (because they are rally hard to find). Red Bliss potato chips are featured at Trader Joe’s and other vendors to the yuppie class. I haven’t seen any fresh ones in Los Angeles, they’re probably all shipped to cities like New York and San Francisco where higher prices are more welcome.

All Purpose Potatoes:

These smooth skinned potatoes are general purpose with a balance of amylose and amylopectin starches – not ideal for baking or boiling but they’ll work well enough to get by. Good for stews where you want the potatoes to break down just a little to thicken the stew, but stay mostly intact.

White Rose

Some classify them as a baking potato but I consider them on the baking edge of the range of all-purpose potatoes. White Rose can pass reasonably well for most cooking methods. Some say to wrap them in foil for baking, but I’ve found it is better to bake them unwrapped like the thick skinned russets. These are my favorites potatoes for soups and stews. They hold together well enough but are soft enough to provide some thickening, especially if you crush a few pieces. The skin is very thin and the flesh is white.

California supplies 80% of the US crop, and it is the most grown potato in the state, but some are grown in Washington and Oregon. Their peak season is late spring and early summer. Storage life is relatively short and they green easily. The photo specimens were 4.8 inches long, 2.7 inches wide, 2 inches thick and weighed 8-1/2 ounces – about average size for large ones.


Round, with a thin light tan skin, very shallow eyes and white flesh with good flavor. A substantial crop is grown in California, ranking third after White Rose and Russet Burbank, but I don’t see them in markets in Los Angeles. Pretty much the entire crop goes to processors.

Kennebec are considered good for potato chips, French fries and hash browns as well as for boiling and scalloping. First established around 1948, it’s a fairly large mid-season potato with good keeping properties. Photo by Victor M. Vicente Selvas contributed to the Public Domain.

Yukon Gold

These were developed in Canada as a cold climate variety but have become very popular with the chef set and food writers. Though nearly all recent recipes call for them, I avoid them. I don’t care for the flavor, the color or their habit of turning to mush if cooked just a little too long. They have yellowish skins and light yellow flesh. The large photo specimen (larger than most you will see), was 4.7 inches long and weighed 1 pound 1-1/2 ounces. The small ones are more typical of what you find in supermarkets, the smallest being 2.3 inches long and weighing 2-3/8 ounces.

One reason the chef set likes them so much is, if cooked just right, they are fairly firm and not at all crumbly. This makes it possible to cut them into very neat cubes and slices. Cook them a little too long and they become mushy. The Yukon should not be used for baking where it is inferior to the White Rose. Because of the Yukon’s current popularity, other yellow potatoes are sometimes palmed off as “Yukon Gold”. Real Yukons have shallow eyes which tend to be pinkish. Klondike Goldust is a widely available similar potato for which the developer has licensed the Green Giant brand.

Klondike Rose

A unique potato of unusually elongated shape with red skin and yellow flesh. Good buttery flavor. The skin turns brown when baked.

Purple and Blue Potatoes

Purples are seen most consistently in markets serving Indian communities but also appear in supermarkets and at Whole Foods Markets (often cheaper than in the supers). Most blue and purple skinned potatoes are blue or purple all the way through. The photo specimens were 4.4 inches long and 2.2 inches wide, weighing 6-1/2 ounces From the white ring under the skin I suspect these are variety “All Blue”.

These potatoes must be cooked carefully because they get mushy if overcooked. Microwaving is said to be the best way to preserve color, but I find it survives boiling quite well. They are a good accent as mashed potatoes or in potato salads but have a little less flavor than red, white or yellow varieties.

Fingerling Potatoes

Small very elongated heirloom potatoes between 2 and 4 inches long. These are fully mature potatoes, not early harvest of immature. They can generally be found in the supermarkets in bags of mixed colors, but Whole Foods sometimes has bags of a single type, usually Russian Banana (a yellow potato).

They are a bit expensive because the cost of growing and harvesting is much higher than for larger potatoes. They are used mainly in salads and other recipes where they will be particularly obvious and are called for by some Indian and other ethnic recipes. Photo © i0012 .

Creamer Potatoes

Any type potatoes harvested when they are about 1 inch in diameter but definitely less than 2 inches. They may be white or red. As with fingerling potatoes, they sell at a premium price so are used in high profile dishes where they are particularly obvious. I have not seen the name “creamer” used in Southern Califonria.

New Potatoes

Properly, these are very young potatoes of any type with a high moisture content and very thin paper-like skin that’s easily flaked off. Potatoes of this description are available seasonally in potato growing areas.

Due to extra care in harvesting new potatoes are expensive, but are much in demand. They are usually used whole in very simple recipes where their flavor will not be concealed, usually cooked by roasting or steaming. They are quite perishable and should be used within a few days

The term “new potato” has been somewhat degraded, mainly because so many recipes call for them even though they’re not readily available. Many people don’t know that “new potato” means anything except “small”, but small mature potatoes are not properly called “new”.

Some refer to red potatoes generically as “new potatoes” but this is in error. Reds are the potatoes most often harvested as “new” in California, but they are not generically “new”, they must be very young just like any other new potato. Photo © i0009.

Petite Potatoes

These are the essentially the same as “Creamer Potatoes”, but not sold under that old name, as it wouldn’t be much recognized here in California, were these were grown. The photo specimens were from 1-1/2 to 2 inches long and weighed about 15 to the pound. They were purchased from a large multi-ethnic market in Los Angeles (Altadena) for 2018 US $1.00 / pound in 1-1/2 pound mesh bags. These should be boiled skin-on and served whole using very simple recipes, so their colors and flavor can be fully appreciated.


These are freeze dried potatoes that have been produced by the Inca and Tiwanaku cultures for over 1000 years (that we know of). Frost resistant potato varieties are frozen by night and thawed by day and trampled under foot for three days, then let freeze and thaw an additional two days to produce the dehydrated product. White chuño is washed between freezings and black chuño is not. These can be stored for over a year and are important to traditional cuisines in Bolivia and Peru. Photo © i0008 .

Health & Nutrition

The potato’s reputation for being fattening is not so much from the potatoes themselves (not much more so than apples), but the oils, butters and sour cream they are often cooked in or eaten with. Potatoes contain no fat or cholesterol.

Potatoes are about 75% water and 19% complex carbohydrates, and are sufficiently nutritious a person could maintain good health on a diet of just potatoes and milk (for vitamins A and D). A fair amount of the vitamin and mineral content is near the surface, but more than half is distributed throughout the interior.

Vitamins and Minerals:

Potatoes are high in vitamin C, to the extent Spanish and French sailors consumed potatoes to ward off scurvy just as British sailors consumed lime juice and the Germans sauerkraut. They are also fairly rich in vitamin B6 and contain significant amounts of Thiamine, Niacin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. Potatoes contain more potassium than any other common vegetable, or even bananas. Potassium mitigates the effects of sodium in salt.


Potatoes are about 2% protein and that protein is a very balanced mix of amino acids. The protein is almost all right under the skin so to take advantage of this nutrient potatoes should be cooked skin-on and eaten whole or with just the papery skin removed after cooking.

Dietary Fiber:

Fiber is provided mainly by the skin, but the flesh contains an indigestible starch which provides the same benefits. This form of starch in a cooked potato is about 7% but if the potato is allowed to cool it will increase to about 13%.


Despite assurances by the Michio Kushi Macrobiotics folks that potatoes will send you to an early grave, demographics do not support this claim. The foliage and fruit of the potato plant do contain significant levels of the powerful neurotoxin solanine, and this toxin is not destroyed by normal cooking. The root tubers of domestic potatoes contain very little solanine and new varieties are tested for this. In any case, most of the solanine is within 1.5 mm (1/16 inch) so peeling even quite thinly will remove most of it.

The amount of toxin in a potato may increase if it is exposed to light and turns green, but this is not a reliable indicator. Bitterness is a better indicator as Solanine is an alkaloid. Greening can occur without significant increase in toxicity and toxicity can be present without greening. Diseased potatoes or those showing decay may have elevated levels of solanine and should be discarded. Individual tolerance is said to vary, but I’ve eaten plenty of lightly greenish potatoes without ill effect, and no cases of potato poisoning have been reported in the United States for about 50 years.

There are rumors red potatoes are unaffected by greening and increased toxins, but this is unlikely, it’s just a lot harder to detect in red and purple potatoes. Measurement of solanine is not at all easy, so it’s unlikely reliable data is available.

Strangely, some sources (FDA) say solanine toxins are water soluble, but most analysis sources say it is not. The fact that boiling potatoes does not significantly reduce the solanine content suggests it is not water soluable. Some say it is soluble in water to which citric acid has been added – but I find no reliable confirmation for this. Scientific sources say it is soluable in hot alcohol, but not water.


This substance was detected in fried potato products in Sweden in 2002. It is not unique to potatoes but occurs in all high carbohydrate foods when heated, like toast, for instance. It has been in our food since the invention of cooking.

Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in some laboratory animals when they are fed massive doses of it over a period of time. Whether there is any danger to humans in the dosages we’re likely to consume is totally unknown, to the extent health authorities are unable to provide meaningful warnings or set limits. Food industry workers exposed to twice the normal amount of Acrylamide showed no increase in cancer rates.

If you are concerned about acrylamide and want to minimize your exposure without seriously compromising the range of flavors in your food, you should brown your carbohydrate containing foods to a light golden color rather than darker. Toast should be toasted to the minimum color acceptable and the same for rice, corn and potato products. Smoking exposes you to about 3 times the Acrylamide level you are likely to get from dietary sources.


  • P1 575 Varieties – Washington State University
  • P4 Potato Information – Potato Association of America.
  • P5 British Potato Varieties – Potato Council.
  • P6 Varieties – Ed Hume Seeds.
  • P7 Varieties – Cooks Thesaurus
  • P8 Varieties & Tools – recipetips.com.
  • P9 Acrylamide – American Cancer Society.

Which Potatoes are Best for Mashing, Boiling and Baking?

I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.

When I was titling this article, I had to laugh at “Which Potatoes Are Best” because really, give me all the potatoes all the time.

Which Potatoes are Best for Mashing, Boiling and Baking

There was once a time when I didn’t pay an ounce of attention to what type of potato I was buying. Whether it was mashing, boiling or baking potatoes, I bought only one kind. The cheapest. Whatever happened to be on sale, that’s what I tossed into my shopping cart. For the most part? This worked out just fine for me. But at times I’d have potato salad that ended up more like mashed potatoes, or mashed potatoes that for some reason just wouldn’t whip up to the creamy texture that I can’t resist.

As I’ve learned more about cooking and baking over the past few years, I realized that just as there are different types of flours for varying recipes, there’s also varieties of potatoes that work best in certain recipes.

Don’t get scared off by the idea of choosing the best potatoes for your favorite recipe. It’s really not that difficult to choose the best potatoes and you’ll instantly get better results!

Which Potatoes Are Best

There are three types of potatoes: high-starch potatoes, medium-starch potatoes and low-starch potatoes.

The most common high-starch potatoes are the mild-flavored russet. Russets are oblong in shape. These thick-skinned potatoes fall apart while cooking, and whip up fluffy and light. This makes them the ideal choice for mashing. Because they have a light, mealy texture, high-starch potatoes are the best baked potato.

Medium-starch potatoes are the round white potatoes and yellow potatoes. They are a great all-purpose potato and are the types you’ll most commonly find in the grocery store. They are versatile and can be used in almost any dish, whether roasting, grilling, mashing or boiling.

Low-starch potatoes are waxy and hold their shape well when you cook them. This makes them ideal boiling potatoes for salads, soups and stews. Low-starch potatoes are your round red potatoes, new potatoes and fingerling potatoes.

Which potatoes are best for mashed potatoes? Russets, Yellow Potatoes

Which potatoes are best for potato salad? Round Red Potatoes, New Potatoes

Which potatoes are best for boiling? Round Red Potatoes, Fingerling Potatoes

Which potatoes are best for baking? Russets

Which potatoes are best for fries? Russets

Which potatoes are best for soup or stew? Round Red Potatoes

What is a good all-purpose potato? The round white potatoes that you see all over your grocery store are a generally good all-around potato.

It’s not too difficult to choose the best potatoes. From this point, your grocery store may have specifically named types of potatoes such as Red Bliss, Katahdin, Purple Peruvian, Yukon Gold. They’re like the fancy name-brand of potatoes. Don’t get confused by this. Just stick to this simple chart.

What about purple potato recipes?

Purple potatoes (that often look like blue potatoes) are become increasingly popular. What should you use purple potatoes for? These gorgeously colored potatoes are a medium starch potato which makes them a great all-around potato. Mash them & roast them. Boil purple potatoes, but watch them closely because they tend to cook quickly. Many don’t like purple potatoes for fries because the moisture content is high.

Purple potatoes make a stunning display!

May your potato salads be shapely and your mashed potatoes be creamy. 🙂

Our favorite potato recipes….

Grilled Baked Potatoes

Buttery Crusted Baked Potatoes

Rich & Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes are the No. 1 vegetable crop in the United States and the fourth most consumed crop in the world, behind rice, wheat and corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Historically, Americans ate most of their potatoes fresh. Since the 1950s, however, processed potatoes — French fries and hash browns, for example — have grown more popular as the technology to freeze the vegetables has improved. According to the USDA, processed potatoes composed 64 percent of total U.S. potato use during the 2000s, compared to 35 percent in the 1960s. Americans, on average, eat 55 lbs. (35 kilograms) of frozen potatoes per year, 42 lbs. (19 kg) of fresh potatoes, 17 lbs. (8 kg) of potato chips and 14 lbs. (6 kg) of dehydrated potato products.

Potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food — richly mashed with butter and sour cream or crisply fried in vegetable oil. But when prepared in these ways, they can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

In fact, a study published in 2017 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate fried potatoes twice a week saw an increased risk of death. The study examined potato intake in 4,400 people between the ages of 45 and 79. By the end of the eight-year study, 236 people had died. Researchers found that those who ate fried potatoes — French fries, hash browns, home fries and more — were more than twice as likely to have died.

The study did not, however, find any correlation between non-fried potato consumption and risk of death. This supports the stance of Victoria Jarzabkowski, a nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas at The University of Texas at Austin: potatoes aren’t necessarily bad for you. When cooked the right way — without heaps of butter, cheese or cream — they can even be good for you.

Potatoes are low in calories — a medium-sized baked potato contains only about 110 calories. They are a good source of vitamins C and B6, manganese, phosphorus, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Nutrition facts

Here are the nutrition facts for a potato, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act:

Health benefits

Potatoes are stuffed with phytonutrients, which are organic components of plants that are thought to promote health, according to the USDA. Phytonutrients in potatoes include carotenoids, flavonoids and caffeic acid.

The vitamin C in potatoes acts as an antioxidant. These substances may prevent or delay some types of cell damage, according to the National Institutes of Health. They may also help with digestion, heart health, blood pressure and even cancer prevention.

Purple potatoes are especially good sources of phytonutrients and antioxidants. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that six to eight small purple potatoes twice a day helped lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke among people who were overweight and suffering from hypertension. Despite the carbohydrates in purple potatoes, the participants did not gain weight.

Blood pressure

Potatoes may help lower blood pressure for several reasons. Jarzabkowski said that the fiber found in potatoes could help lower cholesterol by binding with cholesterol in the blood. “After it binds, we excrete it.”

Potatoes are also a good source of potassium. “All potatoes are potassium rich,” Jarzabkowski said. “They have even more potassium than a banana, and a lot of it is found in the skin.” She noted that the outer potato peel also contains a good deal of fiber. Potassium is a mineral that helps lower blood pressure, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Potassium, too, can help lower blood pressure through its actions as a vasodilator (blood vessel widener). Scientists at the Institute for Food Research have discovered that potatoes contain chemicals called kukoamines, which are associated with lowering blood pressure.

Brain functioning and nervous system health

The B6 vitamins in potatoes are critical to maintaining neurological health. Vitamin B6 helps create useful brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This means that eating potatoes may help with depression, stress and even perhaps attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Potatoes’ high level of carbohydrates may have some advantages, including helping maintain good levels of glucose in the blood, which is necessary to proper brain functioning. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that modest increases in glucose could help enhance learning and memory. Potassium, which encourages the widening of blood vessels, also helps ensure your brain gets enough blood.


Vitamin C can help prevent everything from scurvy to the common cold, and potatoes are full of this nutrient, with about 45 percent of the recommended daily intake per medium baked potato, according to the Washington State Potato Commission.


Some people think potatoes and other members of the nightshade family — such as eggplants, tomatoes and peppers — trigger arthritis flares. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support this hypothesis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The organization suggests that people with arthritis try cutting nightshade vegetables from their diets for two weeks to see if symptoms improve.

Some studies suggest these vegetables may actually help reduce arthritis symptoms, the foundation said. For example, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that potatoes might reduce inflammation.


The largest health benefit offered by potatoes is how they can help with digestion due to their high fiber content, Jarzabkowski said. Potatoes’ high level of carbohydrates makes them easy to digest, while their fiber-filled skin can help keep you regular.

Heart health

Potatoes give your heart plenty of reasons to swoon, due to the fiber content. Jarzabkowski said fiber is associated with clearing cholesterol from blood vessels; vitamins C and B6 help reduce free radicals; and carotenoids help maintain proper heart functioning.

Additionally, B6 plays a crucial role in the methylation process, which, among other things, changes the potentially dangerous molecule homocysteine into methionine, a component in new proteins, according to Harvard. Too much homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls, and high levels of it are associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Athletic performance

Jarzabkowski described how potatoes could be a win for athletes. “Potatoes can help restore electrolyte balance,” she said. “Sodium and potassium, which are found in potato peels, are two important electrolytes, and athletes lose them in sweat.” Electrolytes are necessary for optimum body function, and having too few can cause cramps, as many athletes know.

Skin care

According to Organic Facts, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous can all help keep skin as smooth and creamy as, well, mashed potatoes. These nutrients are all present in potatoes.

Cancer risk

A 2017 study published by the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that consuming purple potatoes might reduce the risk of colon cancer. Purple potatoes are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce levels of interleukin-6 or IL-6, a protein linked to cancer cell growth within the colon. The study looked at groups of pigs on three different diets, one of which was supplemented with purple potatoes. At the end of the study, pigs that ate purple potatoes had levels of IL-6 six times lower than the other groups. While the study has not yet been replicated on humans, researchers anticipate that the results will transfer because a pig’s digestive system is similar to a human’s.

Health risks

In 2017, an Australian man named Andrew Flinders Taylor appeared in the headlines for having eaten almost nothing but potatoes for a year and losing around 110 lbs., according to Australian Popular Science. This sparked public interest in the potato diet. Dieticians, however, do not recommend such a diet because it is almost impossible to get all 20 essential amino acids and 30 vitamins and minerals from one food. A mix of white and sweet potatoes would, however, get you closer than most foods. Nevertheless, your health would suffer from eating nothing but potatoes, said Jarzabkowski.

Blood sugar

Potatoes are fat free, but they are also starchy carbohydrates with little protein. According to Harvard, the carbs in potatoes are the kind that the body digests rapidly and have a high glycemic load (or glycemic index). That is, they cause blood sugar and insulin to surge and then dip. This effect can make people feel hungry again soon after eating, which may lead to overeating. The rapid rise in blood sugar can also lead to increased insulin production. Jarzabkowski said, “The last thing I’d recommend to a diabetic is a potato.”

On the other hand, potatoes are also a great source of fiber, Jarzabkowski said, and the fiber content helps you feel fuller longer.

Furthermore, a 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that different individuals respond to a food’s glycemic index value in substantially different ways. Therefore, suggested the study, the glycemic index is limited in its usefulness in terms of recommending food choices.


Jarzabkowski recommended that when planning meals, people should remember potatoes’ carb content. “Potatoes should take the place of a grain on the plate. Use it as a carb rather than as your only vegetable,” she said.

Even when prepared in a healthy way, potatoes can present health problems to individuals with obesity or diabetes. They are high in simple carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain. Jarzabkowski likened the vegetables in this way to white bread.

The Harvard School of Public Health tracked the diet and lifestyle of 120,000 men and women for about 20 years and found that people who increased their consumption of French fries and baked or mashed potatoes gained more weight over time — as much as 3.4 lbs. every four years.

A 2016 study published in The BMJ looked at a large cohort of women and found that those who ate four or more servings of potatoes a week had a higher risk of blood pressure compared to women who ate potatoes less than once a month. The risk held for women who ate baked, boiled, mashed or fried potatoes and for men who ate fried potatoes. Men who ate the equivalent amount of potato chips, however, did not see their risk for higher blood pressure increase. This study further indicates that potatoes may contribute to different health outcomes in different people, perhaps depending on their unique glycemic index reactions. It also emphasizes the importance of potato preparation.

Healthiest ways to cook potatoes

You can probably guess that smothering your potato in sour cream and bacon isn’t the healthiest way to enjoy it, but what is? Which is more nutritious — baked, boiled or steamed potatoes?

Jarzabkowski emphasized the importance of preparation in potato consumption. “The best way to eat a potato is in its whole, unprocessed form,” she said. Baking a potato is the best way to prepare it, as baking, or microwaving, a potato causes the lowest amount of nutrients to be lost, she said.

The next-healthiest way to cook a potato is through steaming, which causes less nutrient loss than boiling. Cooking a peeled potato in this way results in significant nutrient loss, as the water-soluble nutrients leach out into the water.

In a potato, those water-soluble nutrients include B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, potassium and calcium. As much as 80 percent of a potato’s vitamin C may go down the drain if you boil the vegetable. The same thing can happen with peeled potatoes that are left to soak, a method used to stop darkening. If you use the water from the potato boil as stock, however, you’ll still get some of the nutrients.

However you cook a potato, try to eat the skin. Ounce for ounce, the skin contains more nutrients — including the majority of the vegetable’s fiber — than the rest of the potato, Jarzabkowski said.

Are potato eyes poisonous?

If the eyes of a potato are not sprouting, they can be eaten. If they are sprouting, the National Institutes of Health recommends cutting off the eyes and their sprouts before eating the potato.

Potato stems, branches, leaves and fruits are toxic, containing alkaloids such as arsenic, chaconine and solanine. Solanine is “very toxic even in small amounts,” according to the NIH.

Poison is also found in green potatoes. The vegetables turn green if they have had too much exposure to light. According to the NIH, you should “never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin.”

Other spud facts

Here are some potato facts, from the U.S. Potato Board and the Idaho Potato Museum:

The word “potato” comes from the Spanish “patata.” The nickname “spud” comes from the digging tool used in planting potatoes: “espada” in Spanish, “spyd” in Dutch and “spade” in English. The word eventually became associated with the potato itself.

It is a myth that the word “spud” is an acronym for the Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet, a supposed activist group that wanted to keep the potato out of Britain in the 19th century.

Potatoes are members of the nightshade family, like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

They are not root vegetables; potatoes are actually the swollen part of the stem of the perennial Solanum tuberosum. This part of the plant is called a tuber, which functions to provide food to the leafy part of the plant.

The “eyes” of potatoes are buds, which will sprout into branches if left alone.

There are thousands of potato varieties, but not all are commercially available. Popular varieties include Russet, red, white, yellow, purple/blue, fingerling and petite.

Idaho, whose license plates bear the slogan “Famous Potatoes,” is the top potato-producing state, but spuds are grown in all 50 U.S. states. Following Idaho are Washington, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine and California.

In 2013, there were more than 1 million acres of potatoes planted and harvested, which produced 43.7 billion lbs. (20 billion kg) of the vegetable.

The average American eats about 124 lbs. (56 kg) of potatoes per year; Germans eat about twice as much.

Potatoes were traditionally used to make vodka, although today most vodka is produced using fermented grains such as corn, wheat or rye.

According to Guinness World Records, the largest potato grown was 7 lbs., 1 ounce (3.2 kg).

The Inca in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes, growing the vegetables around 8000 B.C. to 5000 B.C.

In 1536, Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, and carried potatoes back to Europe.

Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589. It took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe. Because potatoes were not mentioned in the Bible, many people looked at them with suspicion. For many years, people thought that eating potatoes would cause leprosy.

Potatoes arrived in the British colonies in 1621 when the governor of Bermuda, Nathaniel Butler, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Gov. Francis Wyatt at Jamestown.

Scotch-Irish immigrants planted the first permanent potato patches in North America in 1719, near Londonderry, New Hampshire.

A royal chef named A. Parmentier helped King Louis XIV popularize the potato in France in the 18th century. He created a feast with only potato dishes, which he realized was possible when he was fed only potatoes while imprisoned in Germany. Benjamin Franklin, ambassador to France, was in attendance at Parmentier’s feast in 1767.

Marie Antoinette turned potatoes into a fashion statement when she paraded through the French countryside wearing potato blossoms in her hair.

French fries were introduced to the United States by Thomas Jefferson, who served them in the White House during his presidency (1801-1809).

Another royal chef, Collinet, chef for French King Louis Phillippe, unintentionally created soufflés, or puffed potatoes, one night in the mid-1800s. When the king arrived late for dinner, Collinet plunged already-fried potatoes into extremely hot oil to reheat them. To the chef’s surprise and the king’s delight, the potatoes puffed up like little balloons.

The Irish Potato Famine: In the 1840s, an outbreak of potato blight swept through Europe and wiped out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish working class lived largely on potatoes, and when the blight reached Ireland, the residents’ main staple food disappeared. Many poverty-stricken families struggled to survive. Over the course of the famine, almost 1 million people died from starvation or disease. Another million left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.

In 1853, railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen at a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. To spite him, the chef, George Crum, sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and the potato chip was born.

The potato was the first vegetable to be grown in space. In October 1995, NASA and the University of Wisconsin created the technology to do so with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages.

Additional resources

  • Smithsonian magazine: How the Potato Changed the World
  • The World’s Healthiest Foods: Potatoes
  • Cleveland Clinic: White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which Are Healthier?

If you read this article, you should be able to score well on our quiz.

Quiz: Tater Test

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