Potato

Potato

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

There are numerous varieties of potatoes, with the more readily available ones depending on consumer demand and growers. Growers are constantly seeking hardier varieties according to their resistance to disease, keeping qualities and percentage yield that are also acceptable to the consumer. The consumer needs to know what potato is best for each method of cooking. Some make wonderful chips and baked potatoes, the more waxy ones are best for salads, while some are best for mashing. Much depends on how much starch a potato has.

Generally, the best potatoes for flavour and all-purpose use are those with a creamy flesh such as desiree, kipfler (fingerling), bintje (yellow finn) and pink eye, among others. However, some of the more yellow-fleshed potatoes such as nicola, though delicious, are often too waxy to be good for mashing. Those with a white flesh such as pontiac, russet burbank and sebago, are mostly used for mashing and chips.

Types of potatoes:

New or early: Proper new potatoes come onto the market in late spring and are available through most of the summer. They have a thin pearly skin and firm waxy flesh, are moister than older potatoes, and are best boiled or steamed. Chats are new-season potatoes which are graded to be round or oval in shape.

Old and floury or mealy: These are good for baking in their skins or ‘jackets’, or for boiling and mashing.

Slightly yellow or white-flesh waxy: Best for roasting, frying as chips, French fries, shoestrings or game chips, noisette or sautéed potatoes. Very waxy potatoes are best for salads.

Bintje (yellow finn): A long, oval potato with dense creamy flesh, best used for steaming, frying, boiling and salads.

Desiree: Oval potatoes with a pinkish-red skin and pale yellow creamy flesh. An excellent all-rounder, good for roasting, steaming, mashing and in sliced potato dishes.

Kipfler (fingerling): These have yellow skin and flesh and an elongated knobbly shape and nutty flavour. Excellent boiled, steamed and in salads; good to roast. Rub with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in a dry pan.

Nicola: Oval-shaped with creamy-coloured skin and yellow flesh. Good for boiling, potato salads, roasting, frying or microwaving, but the waxy texture means they are not suitable for mashing.

Patrone: Small, smooth-skinned, oval potatoes that can be slightly pear-shaped. The skin and flesh are light yellow. These potatoes have a firm waxy texture, which makes them excellent for steaming and boiling. They are good for salads, roasting and gratin dishes, but are not well suited to mashing.

Toolangi Delight: This potato was developed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Potato Research Station, Toolangi, in Victoria. Mostly round with moderately deep eyes, it has purple skin and white flesh. It has very good culinary qualities and will mash, bake, make very good chips and is excellent for gnocchi.

Pink Eye: Small irregular roundish potatoes with pink-mauve skin, the pink being more prominent around the eyes, with a yellow flesh. They will cook in much the same way as Patrone.

Pink Fir Apple: Creamy-pink skin, waxy yellow flesh. Boil or bake; very good for salads.

Russet Burbank: A long, oval potato, brown skin with chocolate and red tones, and white flesh. Excellent for baking and chips, and similar to the famous American Idaho potato.

Do not buy any variety of potato that has green skin or flesh. Potatoes should feel very firm, and have a faint earthy smell. Buy new potatoes in small quantities as you need them, because they do not keep well. Store old potatoes in a cool, dark place; they keep particularly well if they are left unwashed, with earth still clinging to the skins.

Instant mashed potatoes: This convenience food cannot rival freshly cooked potatoes for flavour, but it can be useful when mashed potato is called for as an ingredient. It can also be used as a thickener for soups and stews – simply sprinkle over and stir in.

Potato flour: A thickening agent often used by Continental cooks in soups and gravies, and also in baking.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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