Issue 52 Hot Potatoes! — More Unusual Potatoes

PotatoesThere are all kinds of unusual, gourmet potatoes becoming available these days. Exotic varieties that could only be obtained by the fanciest restaurants are now showing up in the local food stores right next to their more common cousins.

Even better news for gardeners, you can now get these spuds for growing in the home garden. Here are some sources for these gourmet potatoes.

Here’s more on the substitute potatoes listed in the magazine article, and a few more alternatives that will work in potato recipes, too.

Potato Sources    |    Planting Potatoes

Red potatoes are identified by the color of their skins. The flesh inside can have some pink tints, but usually it’s white.

Red potatoes are generally waxy, with low starch content and thin skins. This makes them great for roasting, boiling and use in potato salads.
Name Days to Harvest Comments
‘Cal Red’ 70 Small, round, red tubers with red skin and cream-colored flesh. The plants have very high yields. This is a great, all-around potato that won’t discolor after it’s cooked.
‘Desiree’ 85 This tuber forms a near-perfect oval, with a thin, red skin and golden, creamy flesh that holds its shape after cooking. Its low starch and uniform shape make it a good candidate for chips. Steaming or boiling brings out a sweet, almost fruity taste.
‘Red Bliss’ 65 The classic, American, red-skinned potato. Widely available, its white flesh and thin skin make it an ideal salad potato. And this one is among the best to “rob” for tender, new potatoes.
‘Red La Soda’ 85 This smaller, round potato is from the Southeast United States. The smooth, rosy red skin fades over time, so use the brightest ones you can find to ensure freshness. They have a low starch content when first harvested, making them good boilers. As they age, the flesh becomes starchier and is better for mashing and baking.
‘Ruby Crescent’ 100 This is the classic European fingerling, with rose-colored skin and a waxy, smooth, golden flesh. It’s excellent pureed in soups and sauces as a thickener. It also keeps well.

For a lot of us, plain old white spuds are what come to mind when you say “potato.”

And why not? They’ve been the foundation of our stick-to-the-ribs meat and potato dishes for more than 125 years.
Name Days to Harvest Comments
‘Irish Cobbler’ 65 This reliable old standby was introduced in the 1870s. Tan-skinned and white-fleshed, it’s the perfect masher. It can grow in all parts of the country and produces good-sized yields.
‘Katahdin’ 85 Another standard from the 1930s, the brownish skin and white flesh is made for hardy gravy and rich sauces. It’s a great baking potato, too. The plants are drought-resistant and have exceptionally high yields. The tubers also store well.
‘Kennebec’ 85 With light-tan skin and very white flesh, this fluffy potato bakes and boils equally well. You just can’t get tired of its great flavor and texture. It grows well in harsh conditions and large fluctuations of weather and is very resistant to viruses.

There aren’t a lot of blue potatoes, but here are some alternatives for the ‘All Blue”:
Name Days to Harvest Comments
‘Caribe’ 65 The skin ranges from deep purple to light magenta, and the color stops there. Inside, the flesh is white. This is a great chip potato, holding together well for super-thin slicing. But it’s also starchy enough to be fluffy and light when it’s baked or mashed.
‘Purple Peruvian’ 100 An heirloom fingerling right from South America. Gourmet chefs call it “The Gem of the Andes.” The color runs throughout this knobby, irregular potato. Its thick, shiny skin is so tough it would detract from the enjoyment of any dish it was prepared in. A great salad and french fry potato with a very dry flesh.
‘Viking Purple’ 85 The potato that looks like a candy cane: Purple skin splashed with bright pink. The snow-white flesh is very smooth and creamy, making it perfect for baking and mashing. Plants are drought-resistant and produce very high yields.

Yellow potatoes have skins and flesh from deep ivory through pure, sunny gold. Even better, their richly flavored flesh is often described as “buttery.” They have the flavor and color of a generously buttered potato with none of the guilt.
Name Days to Harvest Comments
‘Bintje’ 90 This golden-skinned, yellow-fleshed staple has been around since the turn of the last century. Waxy and versatile, it’s a great, general-use potato.
‘Charlotte’ 55 Slightly oblong, with a thin, golden yellow skin and golden flesh, this potato is another good, all-around cooking spud. It’s fluffy and starchy enough to make a good mashed potato, but waxy enough to boil and roast well.
‘German Butterball’ 90 Golden skin and bright-yellow flesh make this the perfect substitute for ‘Yukon Gold’. It has the same rich, buttery flavor, firm flesh and perfect, round shape.
‘Russett’ 85 Its netted skin and fluffly, starchy flesh are the hallmarks of America’s favorite baked potato. It’s the most widely grown potato in the nation.
‘Yellow Finn’ 85 This classic, yellow-fleshed gourmet European potato is so buttery sweet there’s nothing else like it. Moist and fluffy, it’s an excellent masher and baker. Keeps well.

Fingerlings are named for their long, thin shape and mostly smaller size. They can be short, medium or long season, have waxy or starchy flesh and come in a variety of colors.

Often used whole as tiny, tender additions to soups and stews, boiled or steamed, they’ve become a mainstay of French gourmet cooking and are finding a huge following here in the United States.
Name Days to Harvest Comments
‘Austrian Crescent’ 85 This is a big fingerling, topping out at 7 ounces and 10-inches long. With smooth, tan-colored skin and pale-yellow flesh, it’s a terrific salad potato that’s also good steamed or boiled. The plants produce very large yields.
‘Ratte’ 120 The ‘Ratte’ fingerling has a nutty flavor and smooth, buttery texture. This favorite of French chefs is now making its way into American roasted and boiled recipes.
‘Russian Banana’ 100 This long, yellow-skinned tuber is the most famous of the fingerling potatoes and the number-one potato among French chefs. Its waxy flesh is great in salads and works well steamed, baked and boiled, too. This is the easiest fingerling to grow, produces large yields and is very resistant to disease.