Potatoes in Australia are confusing. Firstly there is not a lot of difference between waxy, floury and all rounder varieties. Popular potato varieties grown in Australia are neither particularly waxy nor floury, not even the ones that we label as such. All rounders tend to sell better in the Australian market as a whole than the more waxy or floury types.
Then there are generic potato brands where different potatoes are used under one brand name (such as Golden Delight, Cream Delight, Red Delight and Spud Lite) to ensure a year-round supply, so the consumer does not actually know what variety they are purchasing, In recent years, potatoes simply sold as washed or brushed have been joined by the potato brands, such as Golden Delight (Woolworths), and Creme Gold (Coles). Each brand can be made up of different varieties of potatoes at different times of the year, but have the same characteristics and are good for the same style of cooking so that “Customers need only remember one name, rather than what variety is in season at that time.” Such condescension is remarkable.
Sadly, often your supplier/green grocer does not know the difference between the varieties.
Finally, potatoes are usually not labelled with variety, location or grower information.
Spuds are not just spuds – there are definite differences between them, in flavour, texture and recommended style of cooking. You might know them simply as white or red, and buy them as either unwashed, washed or brushed. If pressed, you might even be able to name three or four varieties. But for most Australians that’s about as far as it goes when it comes to potatoes.
“There are hundreds of varieties of potato in Australia but the consumer doesn’t know about most of them because they haven’t been told,” says the chief executive of Potatoes South Australia. “The same goes for new potatoes.”
Researching the different varieties available in Australia brought some surprises. The 3 or 4 different types available in the supermarkets and local green grocers belie the huge number of potato varieties produced here. In this post we are collecting information on that diversity as a resource so that we can check the characteristics of different types, and also be knowledgeable enough to ask our suppliers to stock more varieties and to label them appropriately. This will be a live post, updated as more information becomes available.
Common Waxy Potatoes
These have a low starch content and are often characterised by a creamy, firm and moist flesh that holds its shape well after cooking. Because waxy potatoes are relatively low in starch and high in moisture, their cells stay intact when they’re cooked, meaning that slices or cubes hold up when boiled or baked. This makes waxy varieties the best choice for dishes where you want the potatoes to maintain their shape. They are typically good for gratin, roasting, boiling, casseroles and salads. The interior of a waxy potato is firm (even a bit squeaky) rather than fluffy or yielding, so it is not so good for English-style mashed potatoes.
Dutch Cream (often also called floury, depending on when it is harvested)
Nandine (but tasteless at best and earthy-bitter at worst)
Pink Fir Apple
Purple Congo (can be mealy)
New Zealand also has Jersey Benne, Tiffany, Draga and Frisia.
Common Floury/Starchy Potatoes
These potatoes are higher in starch and lower in moisture than waxy potatoes, and fall apart when boiled (the starches harden and expand, causing the skin to split and the interior to crumble into meal). The are fluffy, making them great for boiling, mashing, pureed soups, baking and frying, but they don’t hold their shape well, so they are avoided in dishes like casseroles, gratins and salads. Since starchiness often translates into crispiness, floury potatoes are excellent candidates for roasting and frying – use them in French fries, latkes, hash browns, or rosti for a a crispy shell and creamy insides.
Dutch Cream (often also called waxy, depending on when it is harvested)
New Zealand also has Agria, Red Rascal, Russet Burbank, Flanna and White Delight.
Common All Purpose Potatoes
These potatoes have a medium starch content and can be used for almost all cooking applications; they fall somewhere between the waxy and floury potatoes. Semi-starchy and semi-waxy, they are simultaneously more yielding than waxy potatoes and less crumbly than floury ones. Because they hold their shape when boiled, grated, or fried and yield to mashing, they’re incredibly versatile
Kennebec (somewhat floury)
Pontiac (Red Pontiac somewhat waxy)
Sebago (somewhat floury)
Desiree (somewhat waxy)
Varieties of Potato in Australia
Round shape, buff-coloured skin, white flesh and deep eyes. Available mid-season but increasingly year round.
Ideal Use: Australia’s major crisping and chipping potato variety.
Soft, no peel flesh, available all year.
Ideal Use: Mashing, boiling, baking, roasting, salads
An old Dutch variety, it is Australia’s most popular yellow fleshed potato variety. Small to medium sized, long oval tubers with brown flecks and shallow eyes. Waxy, yellow flesh with firm texture and a long shelf life. Available Year round, especially Mid-season
Ideal Use: Frying, chips, great for salads
Round, dark red to purple skin, white flesh. Available all year
Ideal Use: Mash, boiling
Only certified low GI (55), oval shape and white skin. Available all year
Ideal Use: Boiling, mashing, salads
Round irregular shape, shallow eyes, white floury flesh and white to cream coloured smooth waxy skin. Can have bluish blush at the rose end. Available Late season
Ideal Use: Boiling, mashing, chipping, roasting, baking
Round/oval shape, pink/red skin with dark spots, and pale yellow waxy flesh. Medium to shallow eyes. Available Mid to late season
Ideal Use: All rounder – boiling, roasting, mashing, gnocchi. Some do not recommend it for frying. Holds its shape well and does not discolour after cooking.
Large oval shape, very yellow waxy flesh with firm texture, thin skin and a rich, buttery taste. Available most of the year
Ideal Use: Mashing, boiling, roasting, baking, pureed
Oval shape, cream skin, white flesh. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Mashing, chipping, roasting
Creamy white skin, white flesh. Availability: Late season
Ideal Use: Frying
A brand name that covers a range of potatoes throughout the year, all of oval shape with yellow smooth skin and cream flesh.
Ideal Use: all rounder. Mashed, roasted, fried.
Round shape, smooth pale white skin, white flesh. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Mashing, boiling, wedges
Oblong shape, white to cream smooth skin with shallow eyes, white firm flesh. Availability: Jan – Sept
Ideal Use: All rounder. Mashing, boiling, baking, chips/wedges.
Long oval shape, creamy flesh, white skin, purple or blue eyes. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Boiling, roasting, mashing, frying
Round to oval shape, floury texture, creamy white flesh, smooth pale skin with pink markings. There is also a red-skinned variety, available through New Zealand. Availability: Mid to late season
Ideal Use: Mashing, baking, roasting, dry baking. Not for salads or frying.
Kipfler (German Finger)
Cigar or finger shape, yellow/brown skin with dark spots, creamy yellow waxy flesh with firm texture and a nutty taste. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Baking, roasting, boiling, steaming, salads. Not recommended for frying or chips.
Small oval shape, cream skin, light yellow flesh. Availability: Early season
Ideal Use: Boiling
Long oval shape, yellow to white skin, golden, mild sweet tasting flesh. Availability: Short Growing season
Ideal Use: All rounder. Mashing, roasting, jacket, salads. Hold their shape while cooking.
Oval shape, pale yellow skin and flesh. Availability: Early season
Ideal Use: Salads, mashing, roasting
Oval shape, red skin with white eyes, yellow flesh
Ideal Use: Mashing, baking
About 1/3 of all potatoes on the market, which is worrying because it is tasteless compared to other varieties. Short or large, oval to elongated shape, smooth creamy white skin, firm cream to white flesh. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Boiling, salads, microwaving. Not suitable for frying.
“New” Potatoes (Baby Potatoes, Chats)
Baby freshly harvested potatoes (usually Nandine variety) with thin, whispy white skin and firm white flesh. They are small and sweet.
Ideal Use: All rounder – boiling, steaming, pan frying, poaching, roasting, salads
Chat potatoes might indicate small potatoes, not necessarily new, recently harvested potatoes.
Small to medium oblong/oval shape, light brown to rich yellow rough skin with large light brown spots , yellow buttery flesh with firm texture after cooking. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Salads, mashing, baking, gratin, boiling, gnocchi. Not recommended for frying.
Oval shape, red smooth skin, cream flesh. Availability: June to August
Ideal Use: All rounders. Mashing, roasting, frying.
Firm, light yellow skin and flesh, firm waxy texture. Availability: Mid to late seasons
Ideal Use: Roasting, baking, salads. The ultimate potato salad potato. Not suitable for mashing.
Pink Eye (Southern Gold)
Creamy yellow flesh that tends to be waxy, with a nutty taste. Available mid to late season.
Ideal Use: Salads, boiling, steaming, baking
Pink Fir Apple
Elongated and knobly shape, pale pink skin, firm, waxy. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Salads, boiling. Another ultimate potato salad potato. Not recommended for roasting. Cook them in the skin as they are hard to peel.
Round shape, red skin, white flesh
Ideal Use: Reliable all rounder – boiling, chipping, baking, roasting, microwave, mashing. Some say it is not suitable for frying.
Purple Congo (Congo, Blue Congo, and other names)
Irregular long oval shaped with a distinctive dark purple colour. Dark pink/purple skin. Dark purple waxy flesh with light purple flecks. A long storage life. Available all year.
Ideal Use: Mash, steaming, baking, boiling, microwave, salads. Can have a dry texture when cooked. Some say it is not suitable for roasting/baking.
Oval shape, dark red skin, clean white flesh with a full flavour.
Ideal Use: Boiling, baking, mashing, roasting, frying
Long, oval, flattened shape, rough textured dark pink to blue/purple skin, golden yellow flesh with dark rays radiating from the centre. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: All purpose – roasting, mashing, chipping, salads
Oval shape, dark pink skin, white flesh. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Roasting, boiling, frying
Large, elongated shape, white flesh, deep eyes. Availability: Late season
Ideal Use: Baking, roasting. Australia’s major variety for French fries and wedges
Oval, white skin, white flesh
Ideal Use: Boiling, Salad
Long oval shape, white skin, dry white flesh. Common in supermarkets and green grocers. Availability: Mid-season
Ideal Use: All Purpose – baking, roasting, boiling, frying, mashing. Used for crisping and French fries commercially.
Round shape, white smooth skin, creamy flesh
Availability: All year
Ideal Use: All purpose
Ideal Use: Good all rounder: boiled, steamed, salad
Deeply dimpled purple skin, white flesh. Availability: Mid to early season
Ideal Use: All rounder – mashing, baking, frying, gnocchi
Oval shape, red skin, pale yellow flesh. Availability: All year
Ideal Use: Mashing
Creamy white flesh and skin. Available Jan – Dec.
Ideal Use: Boiling, baking
Big oblong shape, cream smooth skin and flesh. Availability: September to November
Ideal Use: Mash, boil, roast, fry
Finely flaked yellow-white skin, light yellow flesh. Slightly sweet with a smooth slightly waxy texture and moist flesh.
Ideal Uses: Boiling, baking, french fries, grilling, pan frying and roasting.