There are hundreds of varieties of potatoes worldwide. Luckily for us, the majority of US supermarkets have seen fit to lower our options to three, generally a baking potato, a boiling potato and one that works in both arenas fairly well.
But, as we are humans, and humans are a visual creature, we tend to categorize potatoes by the color of their skin. There are Russet-skinned varieties, red-skinned varieties, yellow-skinned varieties, white-skinned varieties and blue-skinned varieties. But really, a potato should not be judged by what’s on the outside. Rather they should be judged by what is on the inside.
What is on the inside that’s so important anyways? Two things really -
These two polymers are the basis of starch, and help determine how starchy or waxy a potato will be. If you have a potato that has more amylose, than amylopectin, you’ve got a great baking potato. They make also great creamy mashed potatoes and they’re also the best potatoes to use in french fries.
If you’ve got a potato that has less amylose than amylopectin, then you have a waxy potato. These potatoes are good for roasting, or in use for soups, casseroles, and potato salads.
Then there are the oddball potatoes, those with relatively equal amounts of amylose and amylopectin. They are particularly well-suited to roasting, soups, stews, and gratins. I find them particularly good in making breakfast potatoes, fried in a cast iron skillet.
Once you decide on how you’re going to use a potato, then and only then should you decide which kind of potato to purchase.
Baking Potatoes:Russet Burbank (this is the most popular variety in the United States), Russet Arcadia, Norgold Russet, Goldrush, Norkotah, and the Long White.
Waxy Potatoes: Carlingford, Nadine, Round White, Round Red, Yellow Potato, Red Potato, Salad Potato, La Soda, Red La Rouge, Red Pontiac, Red Nordland, Red Bliss, Yellow Finnish, Ruby Crescent, and Australian Crescent.
All-Purpose Potatoes: Charlotte, Nicola, Maris Peer, Yukon Gold, Peruvian Blue, Superior, Kennebec, and Katahdin.