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The Difference Between Potatoes Used For Baking And Boiling

variety of potatoes in pile
variety of potatoes in pile - Goldhafen/Getty Images

Potatoes come in so many shapes, colors, and varieties that it's easy to be confused in the produce aisle. Russet, Yukon Gold, red bliss, purple potatoes, fingerlings; the list goes on and on. Luckily, we've got the tips you need to pick the perfect spud and ensure your next batch of french fries is fluffy and your next potato salad isn't mushy.

Potatoes are generally grouped by starch content. Higher-starch potatoes are great for baking, while lower-starch potatoes are better for boiling. Once you learn which is which, you've got the secret for a chef's-kiss-worthy side dish every time.

The type of starch in baking potatoes, amylose, swells when it's cooked, expanding and making the interior light and airy, and contributing to a creamy whipped texture. Amylose starch also crisps when fried, leading to crunchy french fries, hash browns, and potato pancakes. Boiling potatoes are lower in amylose but higher in amylopectin starch, which becomes sticky when cooked, similar to rice. With boiling potatoes, the flesh sticks together and keeps its shape, perfect for recipes where the shape of the potato matters.

Read more: 17 Types Of Potatoes And When To Use Them

Pick The Right Spud For Baking

baked potato with butter and chives
baked potato with butter and chives - Paul Fourie/Shutterstock

Fluffy jacket potatoes with crispy skin, french fries with steaming hot insides and golden brown exteriors, and creamy mashed potatoes that are light and full of flavor are all best made with baking potatoes. The starch in baking potatoes expands as it heats, which creates the texture we crave. These varieties are usually larger, which means they've had more time to grow and convert more of the potato's natural sugars to starch. Age makes them a bit drier as well, and that helps the starch fluff during cooking. When boiled, baking potatoes can practically dissolve, so take care to not boil mashed potatoes too long!

When shopping for baking potatoes, look for larger potato varieties like russet and Idaho with thick, brown skin. A few less common potatoes worth looking for in the baking category are Kennebec, German butterball, and Adirondack Blue. Kennebec potatoes are especially great for making potato chips because of their relatively thin peels! Store your baking potatoes in a cool, dark location. When exposed to light they may try to grow sprouts, which you can simply trim off when you peel them.

Roast Or Boil These Potatoes

roasted potatoes with green beans
roasted potatoes with green beans - Veselovaelena/Getty Images

Creamy scalloped potatoes, classic potato salad, and oven-roasted herbed potatoes require lower-starch boiling potatoes, also known as waxy potatoes. The texture of boiling potatoes allows them to retain their shape as they are cooked, and their firm interior can taste luxurious with a simple salt crust. These potatoes are usually a little smaller than the baking variety with more natural sugar content and moisture. This makes them perfect for recipes where the shape of the potato is important, like gratins and stews, because they are less likely to fall apart when cooked.

Boiling potato varieties include red-skinned potatoes like red bliss and ruby, blue Peruvian potatoes, and most of the small potatoes labeled as marble or fingerling. Russian banana is one popular type of fingerling potato that is delicious when roasted whole or steamed for a potato salad. It's worth noting that you can also achieve all of the above with an all-purpose potato like a Yukon Gold, which has made it the darling of cooks everywhere. The Yukon is a hybrid of starchy and waxy potatoes, so feel free to use it in all your favorite recipes!

Read the original article on Tasting Table.