Spud Specs: Spotting, Storing and Serving the Perfect Potato

Potatoes in Colander with Burlap Sack and Paring Knife. Horizontal format shot from high angle.

When it comes to potatoes, there is more than meets the eye. Luckily, the Idaho Potato Commission has compiled the perfect list of dos and don’ts when it comes to purchasing, storing and serving the perfect spud.

Spotting the Perfect Spud

No, it might not be rocket science, but here are two tips.

  • Look for clean, smooth, firm textured skin that has neither bruises nor discolorations.
  • To ensure you’re buying genuine Idaho® potatoes, look for the “Grown in Idaho®” seal. While russets are the most famous, the state also grows Yukon Gold, Reds and Fingerlings. Only potatoes with this seal are the real deal.

Storing the Perfect Spud

Once you’re home, proper storage is key for keeping potatoes nutrient rich and fresh as long as possible.

  • Store in a cool, dry place but NEVER in the refrigerator. Refrigeration converts potato starch into sugar, creating a sweet taste and causing potatoes to darken prematurely when fried.
  • Don’t wash spuds until just before you use them. Washing them shortens their shelf life.
  • Avoid onions. Storing potatoes near onions can cause the potatoes to rot quicker due to the interaction of the gasses that both vegetables produce.
  • Remove potatoes from plastic bags and store in brown paper bags or on trays in a cool dark place where air can circulate around them.
  • For more tips and tricks on storage, watch this episode of Potato 101.

Serving the Perfect Spud

Since you followed all of these storage tips, you now are ready to serve your spotless spud!

  • When possible, steam or bake rather than boil your potatoes to help retain nutrients.
  • For those of you who have ever gone camping, this may come as a surprise. Never bake your potato in aluminum foil. It traps steam and actually boils instead of bakes your potato. Who knew?
  • Bake the perfect potato every time! Scrub it, pierce the skin two or three times with a fork and place the potato directly on the oven rack at 450⁰F for 50 to 60 minutes.
  • For a crispier skin on your baked potato, rub the skin with a light coating of vegetable oil, olive oil, margarine or butter.
  • The best way to open a baked potato is with a fork not a knife! A knife will flatten the surface and alter the normally fluffy texture of a baked Idaho spud. Instead, pierce the potato with a fork once lengthwise and crosswise. Press the potato at both ends and it will “blossom!”
  • Click here for a great video on making the perfect baked potato.
  • When cooking mashed potatoes, add a bouillon cube to the boiling water. Save the liquid and add as needed when mashing. This trick enhances the flavor of the potato and eliminates the need for cream or butter.
  • It’s very important to keep your mashed potatoes hot while mixing them. This is why milk should be heated and the butter at room temperature before adding.
  • Don’t over beat. Over beating causes starchy, sticky mashed potatoes.



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