Versatile Potatoes

    • Tomatoes can be set out with protection. “Season Starter” will protect them down to 20°F and will give them a warm environment during the day.
    • Summer flower bulbs can be planted now. Choose from gladiolus, dahlias, begonias, lilies and more.
    • Flowering magnolias, or tulip trees can be grown in full sun or partial shade, as a lovely accent plant in any garden.
    • Put up hummingbird feeders this month and enjoy these colorful and entertaining birds.
    • Plant artichokes now. Fill a hole with one part humus and two parts soil and set out plants in full or part sun.

Versatile Potatoes

America’s most popular vegetable, the potato, can be boiled, baked, fried, microwaved, steamed, or roasted, with or without their peels. Combined with butter, sour cream, or oil they are rich and addictive, but left to themselves they’re quite low in calories and loaded with nutrients.

Potatoes with a high starch content, like russets, bake well and yield light and fluffy mashed potatoes.  Those with a low starch content, like red-skinned potatoes, hold their shape after cooking, and are great for making potato salads and scalloped potatoes.  Medium starch potatoes are called all-purpose potatoes, and they’ll work in most potato dishes. 

Baking potatoes are high in starch with a coarse, cork-like skin. For baked potatoes, Russet Burbank is the standard. But newer varieties like Rio Grande Russet and Norkotah Russet may give you higher yields. You can also have fine baked potatoes with Sangre 11, a red potato with white flesh, Mountain Rose, a red potato with red flesh, and Yellow Finn, a popular yellow potato. California White is also good baked.

Boiling potatoes are waxy and low in starch. They have a thin, smooth skin and are high in moisture and sugar, but low in starch. Many red potatoes are delicious boiled. Red La Soda is a classic boiler with sweet white flesh, and Sangre 11 is excellent for boiling and ranks high in taste tests. Red Gold has delicate yellow flesh and unique flavor. Modoc has bright red skin and is early maturing. Red Chieftain has dark red skin and white flesh and is slow to turn green in storage. Yellow Finn and Yukon Gold are also good boilers.

For mashed potatoes, look to Russets, of course, or Yukon Gold. Or try some of the reds like Mountain Rose, Red Pontiac or Red La Soda.

Salad potatoes need to hold up to boiling, so you can use Yellow Finn, Red Norland, and Red La Soda for salads. Colorado Rose, a red potato with white flesh, is also good for salads. All Blue, a blue potato with blue flesh, will add color and interest to your summer salads.

“All-purpose” potatoes are moister than baking potatoes and will hold together in boiling water. They are particularly well-suited to roasting, pan frying, and using in soups, stews, and gratins. They can be baked, mashed, and fried, but will not produce the same results as the bakers. Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac, California White and French Fingerlings fall into this category. Carola is a new yellow skinned potato with yellow flesh that is becoming very popular for its versatility and flavor.

Fingerling potatoes are gourmet potatoes that are more widely available now. There are many varieties of these small, finger-shaped potatoes, but they all tend to be low in starch, and great for roasting or making potato salads. Look for French Fingerlings, Russian Banana and Rose Finn Apple.

Try some new varieties and enjoy the many flavors of the versatile potato.

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