Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Choosing Potatoes in Germany

It wasn´t until I read this article on A Sausage Has Two (formerly Eating Wiesbaden) that I understood why my baked potatoes never came out right! If you are at all interested in seasonal eating and German recipes, it´s a fantastic blog. For more on the subject, she also has a rather comprehensive list of other blogs/websites that focus on food in Germany. 

Photo: www.potatoes.com
The following is reposted with permission from the author.    

A little while ago, I was asked for a recommendation for a good roasting potato; and then again, just this week, for advice on what sort of spud to use for soups and mash.  These may seem like daft questions to those of you in the "just buy a bag of potatoes and use them for everything" camp, but if you like your roasties fluffy and light and your mash whipped into peaks, picking the right potato is actually a very important task to complete.

There are are hundreds of different potato varieties in Germany, each offering their own individual combination of texture, flavour and cooking characteristics, so choosing the right one for the job can really make all the difference to your meal.  Luckily, potatoes can be broadly generalised into types, which means that despite there being so many different varieties to choose from, if you know what you want them for, you've got a good chance of ending up with the right sort.  Unfortunately, the way potatoes are classified differs around the globe: in the US, for example, it seems to be done by colour - russet, white, yellow, and so on - and in the UK they're categorised by how waxy they are.

In Germany, potatoes are classified in two ways.  Firstly, they can be grouped by when they're harvested: very early, early, medium-early, medium-late or late (specific, I know, but remember where we are).  Potatoes are available all year round, but those planted in winter and harvested early, in spring and early summer, are known as early potatoes (new potatoes) and can only be bought from around April to July.  Early potatoes have very thin skins and hold their shape well when cooked and cut, which makes them perfect for boiling or making salads.

Potatoes in Germany are also classified in terms of their cooking characteristics; whether they're floury and dry or waxy and firm or somewhere in between.  Floury spuds disintegrate when boiled but are the perfect for baking; waxy potatoes make great gratins but a mediocre mash.   So, these characteristics are the most important thing to consider when buying potatoes, and happily, this is how they're grouped in Germany, very broadly, into the three categories below.  From farm shop to supermarket they're even labeled as such, so despite there being countless different sorts of potatoes in each category, the good news is that if you stick within the right group, you can't go too far wrong.

1 comment:

Christie (A Sausage Has Two) said...

Thanks very much for sharing my article, Mandy! I hope your readers find it useful :) All the best!