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Feb 21, 2007 10:44 PM

waxy/mealy/all-purpose potatoes

Coming from Germany I know the different types of waxy and mealy potatoes there pretty well. After living a few years in the US I know now the most important waxy and mealy potatoes here but there are still quite often potatoes which I don't recognize by the name and then it is hard to know if it is waxy,mealy or all purpose. I looked but I couldn't really find a good, comprehensive list of a large variety of potatoes in the US differentiated between waxy, mealy and all-purpose.

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  1. Interesting... I didn't think we had that many potatoes! My impression is that the only truly waxy potatoes are the smallish round red ones, and the only truly mealy ones are the football-like (American football, that is) Idaho potatoes. Everything else seems to be all-purpose.

    1. I assume you're talking about sources like farmers' markets and whatnot? In terms of mainstream potatoes, I'd have to agree with Cicely, though "russet" is the more generic name for Idahos, but are the same general type.

      In terms of the so-called heirloom varieties which are recent arrivals on the US market, I've never seen what I'd call a comprehensive listing, but if you Google "heirloom potatoes", you'll get a lot of hits with often overlapping, but complementary, lists. The most popular are the fingerlings which are all, in my not exactly vast experience, basically waxy or semi-waxy types though occasionally you see a wholeheartedly mealy type or two....

      1. I remember being taught that as a general rule thick-skinned potatoes (like Idahoes) are mealy and thin-skinned potatoes (like red new potatoes) are waxy.

        Can you in fact count on this principle to hold up? Are there exceptions?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pumpkinseed

          I think this is mostly true thus yukon gold, thin skinned are, like red-skinned, relatively waxy. I'm still not sure if there is a difference between Idaho and russet or are Idaho potatoes just russets from Idaho - kind of like prosciutto di parma's DOP or Chianti's DOC. I'm not sure.

        2. "Russets from Idaho"

          There may be some group of specific varieties that are popular and do especially well there, but in general ,yeah, all Idahos are russets, but not all russets are Idahos.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MikeG

            Mike is partially correct. Only potatoes grown in Idaho can be called Idaho potatoes. So, not all russets are Idaho potatoes. Nearly every state grows potatoes, Idaho produces one third of all production followed by states such as Washington, Colorado, North Dakota, Nevada, Nebraska, Wisconsin, etc. Idaho surpassed Maine in the late fifties as the number one producer. Now, while Idaho grows more Russet Burbanks (62 percent of the 320,000 acres for the 2007-08 crop) than any other state it also grows a brown Ranger variety (15%) and a Russet Norkotah (10%). That leaves 13%. Most of the remainder are red varieties and some yellow flesh. Idaho actually had one grower last year harvest 1 million pounds of fingerlings. Most of these niche varieties are available from Idaho September to March. One of the best links I have found on variety descriptions is at: