All you need to know about potatoes

by Kyla Van Heerden


Most people don’t even notice the difference, but in South African homes you’ll find three types of potatoes – starchy, waxy and all-purpose. It’s important to choose the right potatoes for the right dish.

Starchy potatoes

• high in starch and low in moisture

• good for baking, boiling and frying

• avoid in casseroles, gratins and salads

Waxy potatoes

• low in starch with a creamy, firm and moist flesh that holds its shape well

• good for roasting, boiling, casseroles and potato salads

• avoid in microwave cooking and mashing

All-purpose potatoes

• medium starch content

• used for just about any cooking

• most commonly available in all supermarkets

Cooking tips

Baked potatoes: The skin becomes crisp because the starch just below the skin converts to sugar which browns in heat. It is best to cook longer on low heat. 

TIP: As soon as you remove the potatoes from the oven, cut a slit in them so that the inside doesn’t steam, as it makes for a heavier consistency.

Mashed potatoesReturn the potatoes to the hot pot after boiling and draining to dry them out a little before mashing. Immediately add butter before mashing. This coats the cells and the starch,so they absorb less liquid, making the potatoes fluffier.

TIP: Add a teaspoon of baking powder to your mashed potatoes to make them even fluffier.

Fried potatoesMake sure that your potatoes are completely dry before frying them. Soaking your potatoes in cold water for at least 30 minutes before frying will help them crisp better.

TIP: Double fry potatoes for even better results. Fry for a few minutes until slightly limp and set aside. Fry again after a few minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Did you know?

A baked potato is more nutrient-dense than a boiled potato. It provides six grams of protein and six grams of fibre and has about 25% more magnesium as a boiled potato.

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