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Types of Potatoes

Chandramita Bora
The potato is one of the largest cultivated vegetables. There are about 5,000 varieties of potatoes found throughout the world. Discover some fascinating facts about this vegetable, through this write-up.
The potato is a tuberous crop that belongs to the Solanaceae family, and was native to Peru. The Inca Indians (the inhabitants of Peru) were the first to cultivate potatoes in 200 BC.
Almost 99% potatoes cultivated today are actually the descendants of a subspecies that originated in south central Chile. It was introduced in Europe by the Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and from there it spread to the entire world.

Varieties of Potatoes

Although 5,000 varieties of potatoes exist, only a few varieties are commonly used for cooking. So, let's take a look at some commonly cultivated varieties of potatoes.

Yellow Potatoes

The popularity of yellow potatoes has grown immensely in the recent times, especially in the United States. They are usually round, or slightly oval-shaped and flat. The flesh is yellow, and covered by a thin yellowish, or light brown skin.
The yellow color is due to the presence of a chemical called anthoxanthin, that has antioxidant properties. They contain medium levels of starch, and are suitable for boiling, baking, and roasting.
The most popular variety of yellow potato is 'Yukon Gold'. The other varieties are Yellow Finn, Michigold, Carola, Nicola, and Delta Gold.

Round White Potatoes

As the name suggests, these potatoes are round with tan or light brown skin. The starch level is medium, and the flesh is white or creamy. They can be found throughout the year, and are great for all types of dishes.
They are suitable for boiling, mashing, roasting, and frying, and they can retain their shape even after cooking. Some popular varieties of round white potatoes are Atlantic, Kennebec, and Superior.

Long White Potatoes

This oval-shaped potato has a light white or pale, brown-colored skin. The long white potatoes are generally medium in starch content. Some varieties are quite low in starch, and they contain only 25% carbohydrates and mineral salts, the remaining 75% being water.
They are easily digestible, and they can promote intestinal functions. Because of their low starch content, they can be consumed by obese and diabetic people as well. They are particularly suitable for boiling, mashing, frying, and baking. They are also known as the white rose or California long whites.

Red Potatoes

Red potatoes are round-shaped, and they can be distinguished by their rosy red, or reddish-brown skin. The flesh is usually white, though sometimes it can be yellow or red as well.
Red potatoes are low in starch and they are ideal for boiling, steaming, roasting, and grilling. They can also be served as salad. Some common varieties of red potatoes are, Red Norland, Red LaSoda, and Red Pontiac.


Russet potatoes are characterized by a brown, net-like skin that covers the white flesh. They are oval-shaped with many shallow eyes. They become soft and fluffy, or flossy when cooked. Russet potatoes are high in starch.
They are ideal for baking, mashing, roasting, and frying, and they make excellent French fries. They usually reach a length of 10 to 15 cm.


Fingerlings are smaller than the conventional potatoes. Length is about 7cm, and are slightly elongated with knobs, which give them the shape of fingers. The flesh is yellow, while the skin is thin. So, they can be cooked without peeling.
There are many varieties of fingerling potatoes ranging from creamy-white to purple. The most common varieties are, Purple Peruvian, Russian Banana, Ruby Crescent, and long white fingerlings. Fingerlings are low in starch, and they can be consumed by baking, roasting, and boiling.

Purple or Blue Potatoes

Purple potatoes are also known as blue potatoes. They can be easily identified by their blue or purple skin and flesh, which remain intact to a great extent even after cooking.
The brilliant blue or purple color is imparted by a blue pigmented antioxidant, known as anthocyanin. These potatoes are native to South America. They are low in starch, and they can be boiled, baked, roasted, and fried. The common varieties of blue or purple potatoes are, All Blue, Purple Peruvian, and Purple Viking.
Potatoes were initially considered poisonous by the Europeans. But today, the potato is the largest crops to be cultivated. It is a rich source of carbohydrates, essential vitamins, and minerals. Potatoes contain a high level of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, but do not contain fats and cholesterol.
Potatoes can be mixed with other vegetables and cooked in several different ways, but to retain their nutritional value, avoid frying them in excess oil or fats.