Types of potatoes: the best 50 potato varieties
The potatoes Linda, Annabelle & Gala are well-known varieties. Widen your horizon in this article and find the best potato varieties ranging from floury to firm.
Biodiversity: the hidden treasure of the Andes
Since 2008 was proclaimed the international year of the potato (Solanum tuberosum), the potato has stepped a little more into the spotlight again. Nevertheless, the potato often still leads a shadowy existence. In most supermarkets there is usually a very small selection of potato varieties. Most countries cultivate a couple hundred varieties at most, which may seem like a lot. Appearances are deceptive, though. If we compare the selection of varieties grown in most countries with the over 4000 potato varieties known to us, it quickly becomes clear that modern agriculture only cultivates a dangerously small gene pool.
An overview of potato varieties: firm to floury
The different potato varieties can be subdivided according to different criteria. In addition to the classification according to the cooking characteristics (firm to floury), the time of ripening (very early to late ripening) is particularly important among hobby gardeners.
Potatoes are divided into three different categories depending on their starch content: solid, predominantly solid and floury. The more starch a potato contains, the looser it becomes during cooking. Floury potatoes are therefore drier and softer than their waxy counterparts. They are firm and juicy and have a hearty bite as well as a fine structure. The properties of predominantly waxy potatoes are somewhere in between the waxy and floury varieties.
The characteristics of the tuber determine which dish can be prepared from it. After all, fried potatoes should not disintegrate quickly, whereas this is of course more desirable when preparing mashed potatoes.
Firm and solid boiling potatoes
The solid potato varieties usually contain slightly less starch than the floury potato varieties. The firm varieties are used to prepare fried or boiled potatoes and salads because they have a firmer, juicier and finer texture.
- Linda: a medium early variety with long oval tubers, the smooth skin is yellow in colour. The deep yellow flesh has an excellent creamy taste and is popular in salads, boiled, as a jacket potato or au gratin. In addition, this variety also lasts long in storage.
- Sieglinde: an early variety with long oval tubers and typical yellow skin and flesh. Due to its pleasantly strong taste, this potato is very popular for salad dishes, boiled or as a jacket potato.
- Heideniere: a medium early variety with elongated tubers in typical yellow colour. Its finely spiced, buttery taste makes Heideniere a popular salad ingredient or boiled dish.
- Annabelle: a very early potato variety with elongated tubers whose skin and flesh are typically yellow in colour. The potatoes are characteristic for their wonderful taste and are great in salads or boiled.
- Nicola: a medium early variety with long oval tubers in typical yellow colour. The light yellow, tasty meat is suitable for boiling, as jacket or salad potatoes. Nicola is the Potato of the Year 2016!
- La Ratte: a medium early variety with longish croissant-shaped tubers with skin and flesh yellow in colour. This potato variety is also known as ‘Asparges’ and is characteristic for its beautifully creamy texture. It is suitable as a salad or jacket potato.
- Goldmarie: an early variety with long oval tubers and yellow skin. The yellow pulp has a fine aromatic flavour and is suitable as boiled, jacket or salad potatoes.
- Glorietta: a very early variety with long oval yellow tubers. The deep yellow flesh has a very aromatic flavour and is suitable for salads or as grilled or baked potatoes.
- Charlotte: a medium early potato variety with long oval yellow tubers. The yellow flesh has a very good, aromatic flavour and is suitable for salad and jacket potatoes.
- Allians: a medium early variety with long oval yellow tubers. The deep yellow pulp is characterised by a very fine aroma and is popular as a salad, boiled or jacket potato.
Predominantly waxy potatoes
This type of potato has a slightly higher starch content and with this a higher tendency to disintegrate during cooking. The predominantly waxy potato varieties are great to cook as jacket potatoes or French fries.
- La Bonnotte: a medium early variety with yellow, round tubers with deep hollows. The yellow pulp is extremely creamy. The potatoes are great for boiling as jacket or salad potatoes.
- Finka: a very early variety with oval tubers whose skin and meat are typically yellow in colour. Its strong aroma makes it an awesome mashed or boiled potato.
- Granola: a medium early variety with round oval tubers in typical yellow colour. Due to its excellent flavour, it is popular as a fried potato or for dumplings and potato dough dishes.
- Eersteling: a very early variety with long oval tubers with a characteristic yellow skin and flesh. Due to their delicious creamy texture, they are excellent for baking or as mashed potatoes.
- Aeggeblomme: a medium early variety with round tubers and yellow skin. The pulp is deep yellow in colour and is characteristic for its unique, finely spiced flavour. Fantastic as jacket potato and delicious when baked or mashed.
- Lady Balfour: a medium early variety with round oval tubers and yellow skin which is peppered with red dots. The pale yellow flesh is aromatic and is popular as a boiled and baked potato.
- Marabel: an early variety with oval, yellow tubers. The yellow pulp is deliciously aromatic which makes it a great jacket potato or cooked as well as boiled.
Solid to floury potatoes
The solid to floury potato varieties can be used for the same dishes as the predominantly solid potatoes. Some chefs therefore combine these two types.
- Hela: a very early variety with oval tubers. Both the skin and the meat are typically yellow in colour. The potatoes have a pleasantly mild aroma and are suitable for mashed, boiled or baked potatoes.
- Bintje: a medium early variety with long oval tubers whose skin and flesh are yellow. The potatoes are characterised by their mild, creamy texture and are wonderful baked and mashed or as boiled potatoes.
- Almond Potato: a medium late variety with small, almond-like tubers in typical yellow colour. It is also known as ‘Puikula’ and its creamy texture makes it a great variety to prepare as jacket potato.
Floury potato varieties
The floury potato varieties have a higher starch content. These potatoes disintegrate more easily during cooking and are mainly used for dishes such as mashed potatoes, gnocchi, dumplings and potato soups.
- Augusta: an early variety with round oval, typically yellow tubers. These potatoes are fantastic for soups, dumplings or gnocchi due to their well-balanced (mild yet distinct) flavour.
- Adretta: a medium early variety with yellow, round tubers. The yellow meat has a strong, spicy flavour and is ideal for dumplings and potato dough dishes.
- Ackersegen: a medium late potato variety with round tubers in typical yellow colour. The potatoes have an excellent buttery texture and are wonderful mashed or baked.
- Mayan Gold: a medium early variety with elongated tubers, which are typically yellow in colour. Due to their creamy but pleasantly dry texture and nutty-sweet aroma, these potatoes are ideal as baked potatoes, potato soup or potato pancakes.
Colourful and exotic potato varieties
In recent years, exotic varieties have become somewhat of a potato trend. The Blue Anneliese variety, for example, has a dark blue to violet flesh. In general, such colourful potatoes are usually more intense and nuttier in taste. These varieties are particularly suitable for elaborate and visually pleasing dishes, such as a colourful potato salad with yellow, red and violet potato pieces.
- Red Emmalie: an early variety with elongated tubers. The skin is smooth and strikingly red. Due to their spiciness, the predominantly firm potatoes are particularly well suited as salad potatoes, mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes or to make gnocchi with pink colouring.
- Heiderot: a medium late variety with long oval tubers. Both skin and flesh are coloured red. The firm boiling potatoes are slightly buttery, aromatic and are well suited for salad, fried and boiled potatoes.
- Violetta: a medium early variety with long oval tubers. The skin is deep navy and the potatoes are vividly blue on the inside. A firm boiling type with a pleasantly strong flavour which is particularly great boiled, fried, as a jacket potato or in salads.
- Blue Anneliese: a medium late variety with oval tubers. These waxy potatoes stand out above all for their beautiful blue skin and blue pulp. Its pleasantly strong aroma makes it ideal as a salad, salt or mashed potato with an exotic blue look.
- Angeliter Tannenzapfen: a medium late variety with long (reminiscent of fir cones) tubers. The firm boiling potatoes with pink skin and yellow flesh have a fine spicy aroma and are excellent in salads, boiled or as jacket potatoes.
- Laura: a medium early variety with long and oval tubers, the skin of which is striking red and the flesh deep yellow. The predominantly firm potatoes are distinct in flavour and are suitable as french fries, boiled, baked or mashed.
- Bamberger Krumbeere: a medium late variety with horn-like tubers, the skin of which is yellow-pink. The firm boiling, yellow meat has a striking spiciness to it and is excellent as a salad, fried or as a jacket potato.
- Desiree: a medium early variety with oval tubers. Very conspicuous with the red skin and the light yellow flesh, which is characterised by its juicy and fruity aroma. These potatoes are fantastic baked, boiled, as jacket potatoes or hash browns.
- Schwarze Ungarin: a medium early variety with elongated tubers, the skin of which is deep blue-violet. In contrast is the light yellow, almost white flesh, which has a great creamy texture. The floury potatoes are great as jacket and mashed potatoes.
- Odenwälder Blaue: a medium late variety with round tubers, the skin of which is dark blue and contrasts with the light yellow flesh. The floury potatoes have a pleasant spiciness and are wonderful mashed, baked or boiled.
- Pink Fir Apple: a medium late variety with croissant-shaped tubers, the skin of which is pink. The firm-boiling vegetable is yellow in colour and has an alluring spicy aroma. These potatoes are suitable as salad or jacket potatoes.
- Rode Erstling: an early variety with striking red, round oval tubers. The potato is yellow on the inside and has a wonderful creamy texture. The predominantly firm potatoes are also known as ‘Red Duke of York’ and are suitable as mashed or boiled potatoes.
- Blauer Schwede: a medium early variety with round oval tubers; skin and meat are beautifully coloured in blue-violet. The predominantly waxy potato is also known as ‘Blue Congo’ and with its strong taste is well suited as baked, boiled, a jacket or a salad potato.
- Pink Gipsy: an early to medium early variety with long oval tubers, the skin of which is strikingly yellow with reddish hues. The predominantly firm, yellow meat is characterised by a good, fine taste and is excellent baked or boiled.
- Red Sonia: a very early potato variety with oval tubers and stunning red skin. The pale yellow meat delights with its excellent spiciness. The potato, which is predominantly firm when cooked, is wonderful baked or mashed.
- Sarpo Mira: a medium late variety with long-oval, light red tubers. The pale yellow vegetable is characterised by its fruity flavour. The predominantly waxy potato is popular boiled or in salads. Sarpo Mira has a high resistance to late blight!
Potato varieties: classification according to ripening time
For the hobby gardener, not only the cooking quality but also the time of ripeness is of great importance. Without special protection or pesticides, the medium- and late-ripening potato varieties are unfortunately vulnerable to the late blight. In the case of the early ripening varieties, harvesting can take place before this annoying fungus occurs.
Extra early varieties:
Medium early varieties:
- Blauer Schwede
- Blaue St. Galler
Medium to late potato varieties:
- Highland Burgundy Red
- Schwarzblaue aus dem Frankenwald
An appeal for variety: lessons from the Irish potato famine
It is true that food should be affordable, so in discussing the issue of potato diversity (or lack thereof) the economic point of view must be considered. However, despite this argument, one chapter of European history seems to be forgotten quite often. The Great Famine or the Irish potato famine was partially caused by the lack of potato varieties. The genetically very limited variety pool had no resistance to the potato blight (Phytophthora infestans). The fungal disease quickly escalated into an epidemic and led to enormous crop failures. Combined with the fact that the potato was the main staple food and was greatly depended upon, these factors led to one of the greatest famines in the history of mankind. The Great Famine occurred between 1845 and 1852. According to some sources, about one million people died as the result and about two million people emigrated from Ireland because of this catastrophe. Let this historical event serve as a warning, even today. In our times, food has become much more varied and agriculture is armed against crop failures thanks to the modern crop protection products. Nevertheless, the genetic pool is of great importance for the breeding of new varieties. Even in the Andes, the original home of potatoes, where these tubers have been cultivated for thousands of years, the diversity is rapidly shrinking. Many varieties have fallen victim to disease, structural upheaval and migration from rural areas in the recent decades.
In 1971, the International Potato Centre (IPC) was founded in Peru, co-financed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Among other things, the IPC supports the Parque de la Papa, a 15,000-hectare park that aims to become the Noah’s Ark of the potato. Local and regional potato species and varieties are cultivated and protected in the park. So far, the park includes approximately 1300 different varieties. In the long term, as many as possible of the 4000 varieties known to us should be planted there. In addition to the cultivated potato (Solanum tuberosum), which is mainly known in Europe, about a dozen other potato species are cultivated in the Andes. Experts also predict that there are more than 200 wild species. About 3000 different varieties of potatoes are native to the Andes.