The Humble Potato

Hi Everyone! After many years in Germany, I finally took it upon myself to figure out what was the difference between the many types of potatoes in the supermarket here. In the States, the potatoes usually just come in a few varieties, without information on where or how they were grown (unless Idaho), and are usually labeled with something generic like “red” or “yellow.” Although I asked at my local shop, the explanation was still not so clear to me, so I looked it up and found the following information from The Spruce Eats website. Follow the links below to their delicious recipes including Kartoffelpuffer, always a hit with the kids (and adults!):

“German stores do label a potato as to whether it is festkochend, vorwiegend festkochend, or mehlig kochend, which we describe in order as waxy, medium or primarily waxy and floury, or starchy.

Festkochend (Waxy)—These are potatoes with a low starch content, which hold up well after cooking. They are good for salads, salt potatoes, bratkartoffeln or fried potatoes, and casseroles and soups.

In Germany, the varieties you might see are named Cilena, Linda, Nicola, etc. In the US, the waxy types are mostly red potatoes, including Chieftain, Red La Sota, and Klondike Rose. Fingerlings also are waxy. Try waxy varieties in hot German potato salad with bacon or Schwaebische potato salad.

Mehlig Kochend (Floury or starchy) —These potatoes bake up light and fluffy, mash and puree easily, and break down in soups to give a broth body. The quintessential potato in the US is the Russet and its offspring. Blue potatoes also are starchy and can be baked or microwaved with success. In Germany, these potatoes are also used in potato dumplings and include varieties like Adretta and Likaria. Try starchy types in homemade German potato dumplings or himmel und erde.

Frühkartoffeln (New Potatoes)—These can be any one of the three types of cooking potatoes. They are harvested and sold without curing the skin for storage. They are considered a great delicacy in Germany, served boiled in their jackets with butter and dill. They are available from May until August and are mostly grown in warm countries like Egypt and Spain. You don’t usually peel new potatoes but scrub them instead and eat the skin.

Vorwiegend Festkochend (Primarily waxy) or middle levels of starch—These are your all-around workhorses and do well in mashed dishes as well as gratins or potato salad. In the U.S., these include the yellow and white-fleshed varieties, such as Yukon Gold, Cascade, White Rose, and Yellow Finn. In Germany, you might see Christa, Granola, or Laura. Experimentation will lead you to your favorite varieties for each recipe. This is the most popular variety in Germany, as you can use them in almost any recipe. such as in roasted potatoes or German potato pancakes.”

Check back later this week for more the history of the potato in Germany, potato crafts/activities, and science projects! Please send us a message if you have favorite potato recipe to share!

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