Who knew? Definitely not me. I didn’t know that potatoes had grades, or even which potato was better than the other. Growing up, my mom only bought one kind of potato, a red one. I never had a “new” potato or a “yukon gold” potato. It wasn’t until I began cooking for my own family that I started buying the yellow potatoes, not because they tasted better, but simply because they were bigger and that meant there was less to peel; less little eyes to have to dig out.
Fast forward 45 years and I am still learning. I often shop at some of the discount markets, such as Aldis, Save-a-Lot and Ruler because there really is a lot of savings to be had. I’ve often wondered if the potatoes I buy are the same quality that I would buy at the more expensive chain stores. It does seem I have noticed a taste difference. But looking at a recent recipe on Pinterest, I saw, for the first time, the word “creamer potato.” I had no idea what that was, so, on to the source of all knowledge, Google.
I found a “creamer” potato was
“varieties of potatoes that are harvested in the early stages of its growth, before it matures, in order to keep it small and tender. Creamer potatoes will generally be a gold Yukon or a Red potato that is harvested at a young age, measuring approximately 1 inch in diameter. The yellow or red skin of this potato is waxy and high in moisture while the sweet, tender white flesh contains a lower level of starch, making it an excellent boiling potato. Creamer potatoes can be boiled, baked, fried, or roasted and are excellent as side dishes or for use in potato salads, soups, stews, and casseroles. The common use is for the potato dish known as creamed potatoes, which cooks the potatoes in a cream sauce with peas and onions. A larger version of this potato that usually measures 2 inches in diameter is referred to as a new potato, which is basically the same, except harvested later and thus, larger in size. It is common for creamer potatoes to have small holes or indentations due to their young skin being tender and easily bruised.
But, it doesn’t stop there. In another article it referenced potato grades. I did not know potatoes had grades. But the USDA does grade potatoes.
Grades of Potatoes
- U.S. No. 1 consists of potatoes which meet the following requirements:a. Similar varietal characteristics, except when designated as a mixed or specialty pack;b. Firm;c. Fairly clean;d. Fairly well shaped;e. Free from:1. Freezing;2. Blackheart;3. Late blight, southern bacterial wilt and ring rot; and,4. Soft rot and wet breakdown.f. Free from damage by any other cause. See §§51.1564 and 51.1565.g. Size. Not less than 1-7/8 inches in diameter, unless otherwise specified in connection with the grade.h. For tolerances see §51.1546.
- U.S. Commercial consists of potatoes which meet the requirements of U.S. No. 1 grade except for the following:a. Free from serious damage caused by:1. Dirt or other foreign matter;2. Russet scab; and,3. Rhizoctonia.b. Increased tolerances for defects specified in §51.1546.
- U.S. No. 2 consists of potatoes which meet the following requirements:a. Similar varietal characteristics, except when designated as a mixed or specialty pack;b. Not seriously misshapen;c. Free from:1. Freezing;2. Blackheart;3. Late blight, southern bacterial wilt and ring rot; and,4. Soft rot and wet breakdown.d. Free from serious damage by any other cause. See §§51.1564 and 51.1565.e. Size. Not less than 1-1/2 inches in diameter, unless otherwise specified in connection with the grade.f. For tolerances see §51.1546.
Then I wanted to know if bags of potatoes were labeled with their grades and I couldn’t find an answer to that. So, who uses/sells the grade 2 potato? One site stated that some restaurants use the grade 2 potato when the recipe calls for peeled and cooked potatoes. There isn’t supposed to be any difference in flavor between the grade 1 and grade 2 potatoes, only their appearance.
For just a little more knowledge, I found the site the cooking dish.com with a great little article about the difference between the red and the russet potato. It’s a short read, but basically, red potatoes are sweeter and have less starch than russet potatoes. the starchier russet potatoes are lighter and fluffier.
To answer my main question, “do my potatoes make the grade”, I still don’t know. I only know what I like (red over white) and instant when I’ve lazy!