All hail the humble spud. They’re the champion of chips, the master of mash and often the saviour of our supper. These days however, there are so many varieties it’s sometimes hard to know which to choose.
When faced with so many options (Desiree, Kestrel, Chat, Kiplfer, Ruby Lou, Nicola, Dutch Cream, King Edward, Brushed, Mozart) it might be tempting to call the whole thing off and just grab the potato closest to your left hand. But don’t. Step inside the Spud Shed at Harris Farm, and get to know our favourites.
The first thing you need to know is that while every potato has its own unique texture and flavour, potatoes can be divided into two broad camps; yellow flesh, and white flesh.
In the white flesh camp are old-fashioned, starchy potatoes like Sebago and King Edward. These are the potato of choice for chips, and some would say that due to their fluffy, dry texture, they’re the only option for mashing. Also good for roasting and gnocchi, white flesh varieties are higher GI (aka less healthy) … and that’s part of the reason they’re not as popular these days.
Enter yellow flesh potatoes. This category is really growing and we’re seeing an ever increasing number of varieties available. Nicola, Dutch Cream, Mozart, Kipfler and Kestrel are some of the specialty spuds in this camp that we love. Lower GI, waxy, with a firmer, moist flesh that holds its shape well after cooking – they’re good for roasting, boiling, salads and casseroles and perfect for gratin. And while some may disagree, yellow flesh potatoes are also preferred by many chefs for mash – Michelin star/ Chef-of-the-Century Joel Robuchon uses a kipfler-like potato for his famed Paris Mash (with a staggering potato to butter ratio – 2 parts potato, one part butter!).
As you can see, potat-o-pinions vary greatly, and should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. Often the choice comes down to personal preference. So, go on … don’t be a couch potato. Get out and try a new spud variety tonight.
Meet the gang
King Edward are an adaptable potato with a light fluffy texture. Try for baking, roasting, or making mash and mash-variations like this delicious kale champ (recipe here).
Sebago are a white fleshed, starchy spud, often on offer as “brushed” at Harris Farm. These are the perfect chip potato.
Desiree have a blushed coloured skin and the flesh is waxy and firm. Try them boiled and dressed with butter and fresh herbs or in a zippy salsa verde potato salad like this one (recipe here).
Mozart are oval and very uniformly shaped with distinct yellow eyes and an attractive sunrise red skin and yellow flesh. Best for mashing and baking. This variety is slowly taking over the desiree due to its uniform shape and having very similar characteristics to the desiree.
Kestrel have purple spots and a robust flavour. They are excellent all-rounders and are a real favourite amongst the team and Harris Farm. We think you can try pretty much anything with this potato – you can’t go wrong.
Kipfler are long, finger-shaped potatoes nutty, buttery flavour. Great for boiling, steaming and excellent roasted. Try them in this tasty twist on Patatas Bravas (recipe here).
Ruby Lou are pink skinned with white flesh and are versatile. These are great for chips and salads, but can also be roasted.
Nicola are oval shaped and cream coloured and have a sweet nutty flavour and are good for mashing, making gnocchi and roasting.
Dutch Cream are creamy and yellow with a buttery flavour. Try these for mashing and in soups like leek and potato.
Meanwhile chats (also called new potatoes) are not actually a variety – they’re just baby, small-sized potatoes. Great boiled, or roasted – they’re usually eaten whole with their skins on.
And once you’ve decided which one to try, here’s some tips on selecting and storing your spuds. Pick ones that feel firm and heavy – avoid those with sprouting eyes, or green discolouration. And for even cooking, choose potatoes that are similar in size. Potatoes should be stored in a dark, cool place – out of the fridge and out of sunlight ideally. Properly stored, potatoes will last 4-5 weeks.