The humble potato is the world’s number one vegetable crop, and one of the most versatile. Whether you love crispy french fries, silky mash, cheesy gratin, hearty soups (or all of the above), potato is one of those foods that’s hard to live without.
In recent years the potato has been demonised for its calorie count (77 per 100g) and carbohydrate content (17g per 100g). I’m guilty of avoiding potatoes for this reason. But potatoes are gluten free, contain very little sugar and have heap of other health benefits. They’re especially high in Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. When enjoyed in moderation potatoes can be just as good for you as their more colourful and highly praised vegetable friends. But buying the right potato can be tricky – because they come in so many different varieties. When a recipe calls for just potatoes it can help to know which type of potato will work best.
So assuming you don’t know all that much about potatoes, I thought I’d step in and help. Here I’ve drawn on my Natural Wonderfoods book that my husband bought me recently as well as a handy ‘potato guide’ I picked up at my local Harris Farm Markets.
So next time you question whether it would be naughty to have a few roast potatoes or a spoonful of mash – remember potatoes are a vegetable and don’t need to be confined to the same naughty bucket as processed foods. Well so long as you’re consuming them alongside sugar rich ketchup or other nasties……
- Desiree – red skinned potatoes that are suitable for boiling, salads, mashing and roasting.
- Sebago -an all-purpose potato – they can be fried, boiled, mashed or baked.
- Dutch cream – a creamy variety of potato. They are perfect for purées and soups and can be used for boiling and mashing.
- Kipfler – a waxy cigar-shaped potato with a distinctive buttery or nutty taste. They taste great in salads and can be boiled, steamed or roasted.
- Kestrel – white skin, purple eyes and white flesh. Good for boiling, roasting, mashing and frying.
- Kind Edward – white skin with a pink blush and a floury texture. A good all round variety – good for mashing, baking and roasting (but not suited to salads).
- Nicola – a good choice for gnocchi. They are also suitable for mashing, baking and boiling. The flavour is sweet, buttery or nutty, plus they’re relatively low GI.
- Snow gem – they have a cream skin with white flesh. Versatile for salads, boiling, mashing or baking.
- Nadine – use these for mashing, roasting and wedges. They are good for boiling because they hold their shape well after cooking.
- Ruby Lou – excellent to microwave, roast and boil. Also good to fry & mash.
- Spunta – a good all round floury textured potato. Pale yellow skin and flesh. They are good for roasting and frying.
- Kennebec – white skin and white flesh, good for baking, boiling and for making excellent chips.
- Toolangi delight – deep purple skin and white flesh. Mashing, roasting and for making crisps / fries.
- Maris Piper – is only just emerging in Australia but boasts Jamie Oliver (and other chefs) as big fans. A floury potato it’s great for baking, frying and mashing.
If I am missing a key potato variety from this list just let me know and I will try to add it!
Of course don’t expect to find such a wide range of potatoes in your local supermarket – it’s best to track down a potato grower at your local farmers market. I buy mine from Highland Gourmet Potatoes – you can find them at several markets in New South Wales including North Sydney, Eveleigh, Camden, Pyrmont, Bowral and Parramatta.
By Laura (Feast Wisely)
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