Review of Potato Varieties

by Annette Welsford No Comments

It is amazing toPotato varieties discover that the humble potato comes in many varieties and colours. The sad part though is that if you aren’t aware of the possibilities, you may find yourself severely limited in terms of choice when it comes to seed and stock possibilities to plant in your home veggie garden. Depending where in the world you live, you might know only of the existence of the few potato types found on your supermarket shelves.

The truth is that there are more than 5,000 varieties scattered all over the world. Those that are commonly cultivated are available from various sources including mail-order and online stores. even if your local garden centre is low off the ball, you can elevate your own humble potatoes to something that will be the envy of your friends.

Heirloom potatoes (usually maintained only in a small geographic area) and other usually difficult-to-source varieties are, not surprisingly, hugely popular. But unless you know where to get them, and order early, you might never have the pleasure of growing these. Of course different varieties have different needs, in terms of climate, location and other basic factors, so if you are ordering from a supplier, take care not to buy stock or seed that is not in fact suitable for your veggie garden, or your needs. For example, heirloom potatoes are generally majorly flavoursome. But they won’t grow in all areas or climatic conditions. In addition, if you order online, from another country, be sure that your country’s import regulations allow importation plant material. Generally, potatoes are grouped in categories that describe shape and colour, and sometimes use. For example:

  • Brown or reddish-brown russet potatoes have a starchy flesh.
  • Yellow potatoes are common in the USA, one of the best known being the Yukon Gold, a variety cross bred from a North American white potato variety and a wild South African variety with yellow flesh. The skin of this particular variety is thin and its flesh is distinctly yellow and has a buttery taste. It has shallow eyes that are pinkish and it is low in starch.
  • Red potatoes are also starchy and sometimes waxy. Their flesh might be red, but is often quite golden and even surprisingly white. Red Gold is a red-skinned potato that has yellowish flesh.
  • Purple-skinned potatoes are similar in texture to russet potatoes, but their colour is distinctively purple, inside and out. Like berries – which of course are often blue, red or purple in colours – they are particularly rich in antioxidants.
  • Blue potatoes are popular in South America. Their skin might be blue or brown, while the flesh could be anything from pale blue to dark purple. If you’re not used to them, you might be put off by the colour.
  • White potatoes might have white flesh, although it could be rather yellow in colour. The skin is usually a golden brown. Some white potato varieties are round, while others are long in shape.

Those that are suitable for boiling are waxy and less starchy than most. But they aren’t good for deep frying or roasting. If you want to roast potatoes or fry chips, then you should look for floury potatoes. The best potatoes for baking are starchy with coarse skin that doesn’t have to be removed. Generally potatoes are rich in antioxidants, specifically anthocyanin, making them a healthy food of choice.

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