At the store you'll often find handy signs hung above the potato bins, including how-to-cook information that's based on the type of potato. Potatoes are placed in one of these three categories.
- Starchy (or floury) have low moisture and high starch content and include potatoes such as russets or Idaho potatoes. Bake, fry, or roast these.
- All-purpose are balanced between moisture and starch. Yukon golds, fingerlings, and purple and blue potatoes are in this grouping. Sure you can bake, roast, or fry these potatoes, just expect a creamier, moister, chewier texture (when fried) than starchy potatoes.
- Waxy have high moisture and low starch content. They keep their shape when cooked in water making them a top choice for potato salad, parsleyed buttered potatoes, chunky smashed potatoes, or thick and rich mashed potatoes. Excellent for roasting-just be sure to spread them out on the pan. If potato pieces are too close together they'll steam.
In the Bag
A good rule of thumb is to buy a 3, 5, or 10 lb. prepackaged bag of potatoes only when you can use them within a week or if you have a cool (50°) and dark area for storage. You will get a price break over hand-selecting individual potatoes. Here's the challenge: determining through the bag the quality of each spud. A plain plastic bag with no airflow allows moisture to build and may cause rot. Look for perforated bags, mesh plastic bags, or, even better, a paper bag with a string-like mesh area.