The potato is not only delicious, nutritious, and versatile…it is in fact, the fourth largest food staple in the world—just behind wheat, corn, and rice.
The more you know about potatoes, the better choice you can make for your dining occassion. So we've put together an overview on some of the world's most common varieties of potatoes-what they are and what they're most commonly used for.
Russets are the most popular variety of potato in America. There are two types:
These delicious tubers have carried the famous Grown in Idaho® seal for over 100 years. They are the most loved, most used potato in America. And for good reason.
The Burbank is outstanding in both the commercial and domestic kitchen. Fried, baked, mashed, roasted, even dehydrated—these potatoes do it all. The Burbank bakes lighter and fluffier than other varieties and, if stored properly, has a high-starch, low-sugar content—ideal for light, crispy French fries.
Idaho Russet Burbanks are oblong in shape, with light russet-brown netting, shallow eyes, and white flesh.
Burbanks mature late in the growing season and store well in a dark, climate-controlled environment. They are available nearly year-round—staying freshest from October through July of each year.
The Russet Norkotah is a relatively new potato. During the past decade, it's become popular and has helped provide a year-round supply of freshly harvested potatoes.
The Norkotah is similar to Burbank. It is versatile and flavorful in a variety of common uses. The Russet Norkotah is ideal for bakers because of its "eye appeal," but its solids are generally less (19-20% as opposed to the Burbank's 21-22%) so it doesn't bake quite as fluffy and light as a Burbank.
The Russet Norkotah is generally darker in color and is more uniform in shape and appearance than the Russet Burbank.
The Russet Norkotah can be planted and harvested earlier than a Burbank. It's available in August and September, which happen to be the last two months of the Russet Burbank's storage. These potatoes generally have a 7-9 month storage life, but with new storage methods and stronger seed, the storage strength of both Norkotahs and Burbanks are increasing each year.
Red potatoes are an enticing ingredient in many of today's gourmet recipes. The bright skin color and distinctive flavor make these potatoes an increasingly popular variety.
Red potatoes are firm, smooth, and moist. They are delicious for roasting, boiling, steaming, and mixing into salads.
As its name suggests, this potato has rosy-red skin. When sliced, the skin stands in striking contrast to its white flesh. The most common varieties of Red potatoes are Pontiacs and Norlands. Norlands generally have a deeper-red finish, but the Pontiac has better resiliency in storage. Red potatoes are packed in various sizes, from very small "Creamers" to huge Jumbo Reds.
Red potatoes are available from a number of growing areas, ranging from early harvest in the Southeast, to summer harvest in the West, to cold-weather storage in the Northwest and Northeast. The most popular area is the Red River Valley of North Dakota and upper Wisconsin. Red potatoes are available year-round.
The Yukon Gold potato was developed in Canada and released in 1981. It was originally perceived as a gourmet variety, but has recently become a popular item in the produce aisle, commanding a premium price from supermarket shoppers.
The Yukon Gold cooks well, with a dry texture after boiling or baking. It is also sometimes used for French frying.
The skin of a Yukon Gold is smooth and golden white. The light-yellow color of its flesh gives the impression that it has been pre-buttered. Its shape is slightly oval and flattened.
Yukon Golds are harvested early-to-mid season.
In the United States, White potatoes are most commonly used for processing and are found primarily in the East and Upper Midwest, as well as parts of the West. There are two types of white potatoes—Long Whites and Round Whites.
Round White potatoes are often used for making potato chips and for fresh table use.
Round Whites are all-purpose potatoes that are creamy in texture and hold their shape well after cooking. They are often known as "boiling potatoes" because of their low-starch content.
Round Whites are smooth with light-tan skin and white flesh.
These potatoes are available year-round, but generally weaken in storage by February or March. As with all potatoes, they need to be stored in a cool, dark environment.
The Long White is an all-purpose potato with a medium starch content. These are grown in the West, primarily California. They are warm-weather, summer potatoes that have great appeal for appearance but no storage capability.
Long Whites have a firm, creamy texture when cooked. They are versatile and can be used in most potato preparations.
These potatoes are elongated in shape, with thin, light-tan skin and flesh that is brilliant-white to cream colored.
The Long White is a perennial favorite in the West from May though July. Long Whites are available spring through summer.