You may have found that trying to find the perfect potato for your dish is more difficult than expected. The potato may either be too dry, too heavy, crumble easily, or may not be the right size. Finding the best potato for your dish depends on a variety of factors. By taking each factor into consideration you can be assured you’ll get the perfect potato for the job.
The Science Behind The Spud
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, when cooking different types of potatoes they’ll cook differently depending on the potato and the cooking method. The primary reason for this is the starch content of the potato.
If a potato has higher starch content (up to 22% of a potato) it may seem granular with a dry texture when cooked. Russets (Burbanks), Yellow Potatoes, and Purple Potatoes are best for baking, frying and for fluffly mashed potatoes.
When a potato has lower starch content (as low as 13%) it will cook up with a smooth texture as the skin becomes translucent. Fingerlings, Reds, Purples, and White Potatoes are the perfect option for dishes that require a firmer potato like stews, salad, or soups.
Sugar is the other important factor to take into consideration when choosing your ideal spud. Potatoes are typically low in sugar but can vary depending on the variety. Russet potatoes (Burbanks) are the best option for French fries as they have good starch content but low sugars. The higher the sugar content, the more susceptible the potato will be to turn dark or black.
Proper Potato Storage
Now that you know the type of potato you’re looking for, it’s important to keep in mind the proper storage methods to ensure taste does not change.
When a potato is stored at less than 45 Degrees F, the starch will turn to sugar, altering the way the potato will cook. If potatoes are kept in a refrigerator, the cold temperature will make them turn dark when cooking. Warm temperatures will also affect the potatoes by causing them to breakdown or sprout. Lastly, if potatoes are kept in an area with sunlight, they will begin to green as they build up Solanine, a chemical that makes the potato taste bitter, and can cause illness.
Pick The Perfect Potato
You know the science and the storage, now it’s time to put it all together to find the spud for you.
1. How are you going to cook them?
a. Baking – Reds, Purple, Yellows
b. Mashing – Russet, Yellow, Reds
c. Frying – Burbanks, Russets
d. Boiling – Chef White
2. What size are you looking for?
a. Range from 40-120 for Count Cartons
b. Larger the number, the smaller the potato
c. Generally, 70’s are a good Entrée potato and 100’s are good as a baked potato side