Thanksgiving has come and gone, but we’re still celebrating fall harvest by bringing in a spectacular variety of spuds! But do you go with red? White? Yellow? Purple? Blue? And what is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato anyway? Don’t worry, we’ll break it all down so you can choose the best tater for your table.
We’re talking good ol’ red, white, yellow and russet potatoes here. Red potatoes are your standard salad potato because of their slightly sweet flavour and the fact that they don’t fall apart when cooked. Plus their red skin adds a nice colour to dishes like soups and stews. White potatoes have a milder flavour and medium starch level which makes them good all-purpose potatoes. They’ll be fluffy enough to mash but firm enough to fry. Yellow potatoes have a little more oomph than white potatoes, with a buttery flavour that means you can cut back on actual butter to make your dish a little lighter. Also all-purpose potatoes, you can roast, bake and even mash yellow potatoes. (Yukon golds are our favourite.) Russet potatoes are very starchy so they won’t hold their shape like red potatoes will. But they are fabulous for making baked potatoes and fries – their hearty skin crisps up nicely while the inside gets light and fluffy.
Creamer potatoes are sometimes called petite potatoes and no, they’re not just regular potatoes harvested early. Just like cherry tomatoes, creamer potatoes are bred to be small and flavourful. Plus they cook faster than larger potatoes, and the ones we sell (The Little Potato Company) are pre-washed with no peeling required. Look for red, yellow and blue creamer potatoes in our markets this month. The red and yellow potatoes have similar qualities as their bigger counterparts, while the blue creamer potatoes have yellow flesh with some purple streaks and are good for roasting or even grilling on the barbeque.
These finger-shaped tubers are waxy potatoes, meaning they have a firm, smooth texture and thin, smooth skin. There are different varieties of fingerlings, but we’re bringing in Russian Banana (yellow) fingerling potatoes, Amarosa (red) fingerling potatoes and Fiesta (purple) fingerling potatoes. All three types will be quick-cooking and good for roasting or frying. There are not many farmers growing purple or red fingerlings so they are something of a rare find – make sure you try them while we’ve got them!
Okay here’s where things get tricky. Most “yams” sold in North America are not actually yams. True yams are starchy tubers native to Africa and seldom found here. The orange sweet potatoes we call yams (Which are technically root vegetables, not tubers!) were originally labelled as such to differentiate them from white sweet potatoes. So, when we say yam, we mean orange or red sweet potato. Still with us? Good.
Names aside, here are yams/sweet potatoes we have lined up for you this month: orange yams, red yams, white sweet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes. Orange yams have orange skin and flesh while red yams have reddish-maroon skin and orange flesh. Both varieties are great for baking and mashing as the flesh will be soft and fluffy. White sweet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes have firmer, starchier flesh that works better for frying and roasting. Tip – you can tell Japanese and purple sweet potatoes apart by their shape; Japanese sweet potatoes are fairly round while purple sweet potatoes are elongated. Or of course you can slice into them – purple sweet potatoes are purple all the way through, Japanese sweet potatoes have white flesh that turns a lovely golden colour when cooked.