Who’s in the kitchen with Spud?

The kitchen, it seems, has become a cook’s playground during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Housebound families are enjoying meal and baking challenges and, in many cases, are preparing more weekly meals than ever before. Because it pays to know your potatoes, this spud advice from A.S Wilcox & Sons might help prevent a dinner hiccup!

There are two main parts of a potato – water and starch. The more starch in the potato the more ‘floury’ it is. The more water, the more waxy the potato is in texture. It is important to remember both are different when cooked.

Waxy potato

To determine which category a potato falls into, the percentage of dry matter is measured – in other words, the percentage within the potato which is not water. Some potatoes have moderate amounts of starch. These potatoes fall into the general purpose category and will tend to perform most tasks, although perhaps with not as good results as the ones which clearly fall into the floury or waxy categories.

For boiling, salads, braises and stews use waxy, smooth textured potatoes. Waxy potatoes have a high water content and are low in starch. They have a dense texture and retain their shape during cooking. They don’t absorb a lot of oil or dressing.

Varieties which tend to be waxy are most early, new season potatoes; Nadine, Draga, Frisia, Jersey Bennie, Red King Edward, Highlander, Osprey, Tiffany, Annabelle, Gourmandine and Marilyn.

Floury potato

For mashing, wedges, roasting, chips and baking use floury potatoes. Floury potatoes are low in water content and high in starch. They have a dry and delicate texture, break up easily when cooked and absorb a lot of liquid and flavour. Varieties which tend to be floury are IIam Hardy, Red Rascal, Agria, Fianna, Victoria, Laura, Marabel.

Some potatoes can be used for most end uses. These good all-rounders have a moderate starch content and are not too floury, not too waxy. They are called general purpose potatoes.Varieties which tend to be general purpose are Rua, Desiree, Moonlight, Rocket, Van Rosa, Karaka, Driver, Vivaldi, Purple Passion, Maris Anchor and Summer Delight.

So, if you are planning on making potato salad some time during the remainder of the summer, or thinking about roast potatoes for a Sunday dinner ensure you have the right variety, that way you will get the right result.