In the United States, there are more than 200 types of potatoes! We won’t get into every one of them. But we will talk about the most common classifications that are used to describe our favorite root vegetable, as well as their popular varieties and when you can use them.
Main Categories Of Potatoes
Let’s start by clarifying the main categories you’ll find potatoes classified as starchy; all-purpose, and waxy.
These may also be known as floury potatoes. They are high starch and low moisture. These potatoes are excellent for baking, broiling, boiling, and mashing. However, be careful not to overwork them. They are not very stable when cooked. Avoid them if you need a potato to hold its shape in a dish like a potato salad.
The most common varieties are sweet potatoes and russets (which we won’t be discussing today but you can find out more about).
Waxy potatoes contain less starch and more sugar. These varieties tend to be smaller with a smooth outer and firm flesh. You can think of French fingerlings and red bliss potatoes.
They are easy to boil or slice, and they hold their shape well. You can use them in soups, potato salads, and casseroles. But, they should be avoided when mashed or fried.
These are potatoes that fall somewhere between the two previous categories. These potatoes are medium in starch, hold together well, and are decently fluffy. These potatoes are great for any type of potato dish.
Yukon Gold potatoes and other all-purpose varieties are excellent options for baking or pan-frying as well, as in soups, stews, and as a side dish.
Popular Potato Varieties
These are probably the most commonly used potato. People often think of large oval-shaped, rough-colored potatoes when they talk about potatoes. Those are russet potatoes and large potatoes are often called baking potatoes in grocery stores.
Russets are also called russet Burbank and are starchy, fluffy potatoes. When cooked, the skin will become chewy. These are great for mashed potatoes or baked potatoes. These are great for French Fries or Potato Wedge.
A waxy potato is another popular addition to many dinner tables. This is a small, smooth, round potato that has thin red skin. It has a creamy, moist texture and mild sweetness.
Red potatoes, such as Red Bliss Red, can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, and roasting. You can make potato salad with red potatoes or your Pot Roast
White potatoes can be used for all purposes and their name derives from their white flesh. This mild, low-sugar medium starch is slightly dense and has thin, delicate skin.
These medium-sized varieties like Kennebec potatoes can be mashed well. They can also be used as a salad ingredient and can be boiled, steamed, or fried.
Yellow potatoes have a waxy texture that is velvety and moist. These large-sized yellow potatoes range in size from small to large and have a buttery, subtle sweetness. They have crispy skin that can enhance the dense yellow flesh.
Purple potatoes are light and fluffy with firm flesh. They are also considered versatile. Their deep purple color gives their name. Their skin can be dark purple, blue, or a combination of both. The inside can vary from deep purple to lavender or pink flesh. They are mildly sweetened with low amounts of sugar.
Fingerling potatoes, a variety of potato varieties, are two- to four-inch-long. They are oblong and somewhat shaped like a person’s finger. They are waxy and firm, with a wide range of colors.