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Subject: weird potatoes
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking

============================

From: Kate Connally 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 11:18:53 -0400
--------
I recently bought a 15 lb. bag of russets
which were on sale.  I usually buy only
loose potatoes and I pick through the bin
for the nicest ones.  However these potatoes
looked quite nice for bagged potatoes - large
and evenly shaped.  So I bought them.

I first used some for gado gado.  I boiled them
whole and then peeled and sliced them.  I thought
I had overcooked them because they were way softer
than they should have been.  They were almost mushy.
So I thought they were over cooked.

But then I cooked some more of them for my roasted
potato salad for Labor Day weekend.  I peeled and
cubed them and then tossed them with oil and spread
them out on a cookie sheet and salted them and then
roasted them until they were lightly browned and 
tender.  However, these potatoes also had a too 
soft interior.  I've made this potato salad before
and used the same technique and the potatoes had
a "normal" texture.  So I think it's just these
particular potatoes.  Has anyone else ever had
a batch of potatoes that did this?  I know I've
had potatoes in the past, on a few occasions that
stayed hard and would not cook properly, but this
is just the opposite and quite disconcerting.  Instead
of having that nice dry, crumbly-fluffy texture of
properly cooked russets they are mushy - not a wet
mushiness, but a drier mushiness.  I don't recall
ever experiencing this same texture in any kind of
potato before.

The funny thing is that after this happened I saw
the PBS documentary about potato blight.  That made
me wonder if some of the chemicals they use to fight
blight might be responsible for this sort of thing.
Probably not, but one can't help but think it.

============================

From: Reg 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 15:27:09 GMT
-------
Kate Connally wrote:
> However, these potatoes also had a too 
> soft interior.  

This fact alone disqualifies them from human consumption. They're no
good.

============================

From: Nancy Young 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 11:39:12 -0400
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
> The funny thing is that after this happened I saw
> the PBS documentary about potato blight.  That made
> me wonder if some of the chemicals they use to fight
> blight might be responsible for this sort of thing.
> Probably not, but one can't help but think it.

I think it's far more likely that this year's wacky weather has 
wreaked havoc with that crop just as it has with many crops.
No spring, and no summer, at least here.  Nothing but rain.
Didn't look much better in the midwest.

============================

From: Nightshade & Flat 
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 10:45:41 -0500
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
> The funny thing is that after this happened I saw
> the PBS documentary about potato blight.  That made
> me wonder if some of the chemicals they use to fight
> blight might be responsible for this sort of thing.
> Probably not, but one can't help but think it.

I heard on NPR about a year (or two?) ago about how industrial potato
farmers in Idaho won't eat the potatoes they were paid to grow, but instead
grew their own crop for family consumption.  Makes ya wonder.

I bought a bag like the one you're talking about recently -- at Winn-Dixie,
as I recall.  They weren't russets, though, rather some smooth-skinned
potato that was yellowish on the inside.  I made potato salad with them, and
the consistency of the potatoes was so dry and grainy that no one liked it.
Usually everyone devours my potato salad, but I ended up throwing away half
of it.  I didn't even chance making mashed potatoes with the rest, but
instead let the hubby fry them up.

That's what I get for not making a trip to the produce market, I guess.

Love & Laughter,
Nightshade

============================

From: Nancy Young 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 12:12:25 -0400
--------
Nightshade & Flat wrote:
> I bought a bag like the one you're talking about recently -- at Winn-Dixie,
> as I recall.  They weren't russets, though, rather some smooth-skinned
> potato that was yellowish on the inside.

Yukon Golds.  They are a waxy potato, not like russets at all.  
I like them as mashed potatoes.

============================

From: FLYINGEAGLECJH[at]webtv.net (CJ :-\))
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 10:55:24 -0500 (CDT)
--------
Hello this is what I do when cooking potatoes.  To see if they are cook
the way I like them I use a tooth pick and stick it in the potatoe  to
see if it is cook the way I like it.

Take Care,
CJ

============================

From: Synic 
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 23:58:16 +0800
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
> I recently bought a 15 lb. bag of russets
> which were on sale. 

While we're on the subject of potatoes, here's a good table of potato
varieties for Australians (originally sourced from the Western Potatoes
website at http://www.westernpotatoes.com.au/):

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  Variety   |  Skin  | Flesh  |   Shape   | Boil/ | Mash | Nuke | Roast | Fry
            |        |        |           | Salad |      |      |       |    
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Carlingford | White  | White  | Oval      | 3     | 2    | 2    | 2     | 1  
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Delaware    | Cream  | White  | Oval      | 2     | 1    | 2    | 2     | 1  
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Desiree     | Pink   | Yellow | Long Oval | 2     | 2    | 2    | 2     | 0  
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Eureka      | Cream  | White  | Oval      | 2     | 1    | 2    | 1     | 3  
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
            | White, |        |           |       |      |      |       |    
Kestrel     | Blue   | Cream  | Long Oval | 2     | 2    | 2    | 3     | 3  
            | Eyes   |        |           |       |      |      |       |    
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Kipfler     | Pale   | Yellow | Elongated | 3     | 1    | 2    | 3     | 0  
            | Yellow |        |           |       |      |      |       |    
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Mondial     | Pale   | Pale   | Oval      | 3     | 3    | 2    | 2     | 0  
            | Yellow | Yellow |           |       |      |      |       |    
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Nadine      | Cream  | White  | Short     | 3     | 2    | 2    | 2     | 0  
            |        |        | Oval      |       |      |      |       |    
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Royal Blue  | Purple | Yellow | Long Oval | 3     | 3    | 3    | 3     | 3   
------------+--------+--------+-----------+-------+------+------+-------+-----
Ruby Lou    | Dark   | White  | Oval      | 3     | 2    | 3    | 3     | 2 
            | Pink   |        |           |       |      |      |       |   
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Royal Blue is apparently the best all-round spud in Australia, 
which may account for it being rarely seen in supermarkets around in 
my local area. Sigh ;-).

============================

From: jen 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 11:37:30 -0500
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
>   Instead
> of having that nice dry, crumbly-fluffy texture of
> properly cooked russets they are mushy - not a wet
> mushiness, but a drier mushiness. 

i've had it happen (also with russets) but i don't know what causes it. i 
never did hear back from the Potato Board about those failure-to-cook 
potatoes either.

============================

From: Melba's Jammin' 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 12:47:15 -0500
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
>   Instead
> of having that nice dry, crumbly-fluffy texture of
> properly cooked russets they are mushy - not a wet
> mushiness, but a drier mushiness. 

I don't see cruymbly-fluffy texture working with potato salad.  I use 
russets only for baking or boiling and mashing.  I think you had the 
wrong spud for the recipe.  JMO.

============================

From: penmart01[at]aol.como (Sheldon)
Date: 03 Sep 2003 18:40:54 GMT
--------
Melba's Jammin'  writes:
>I don't see cruymbly-fluffy texture working with potato salad.  I use 
>russets only for baking or boiling and mashing.  I think you had the 
>wrong spud for the recipe.  JMO.

Yes, for salads choose a waxy spud... far more forgiving of overcooking.

============================

From: Kate Connally 
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 16:43:24 -0400
--------
Melba's Jammin' wrote:
> I don't see cruymbly-fluffy texture working with potato salad.  I use
> russets only for baking or boiling and mashing.  I think you had the
> wrong spud for the recipe.  JMO.

No, I always use russets.  I will eat the waxy
varieties but don't care for them all that much.
I use russets for everything.  Once in a while
I will use Yukon Gold or small red potatoes although
lately the red potatoes often have a weird grassy
taste to them so I'm now put off by the taste and
am afraid to buy them.  I have a couple of recipes
where I would prefer to use red potatoes but I'm
not gonna trust them any more.  Anyway, I've used
russets for potato salad my whole life.  They make
the best potato salad, imo.

============================

From: Janet Bostwick 
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 20:56:29 -0600
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
>    Once in a while
> I will use Yukon Gold or small red potatoes although
> lately the red potatoes often have a weird grassy
> taste to them so I'm now put off by the taste and
> am afraid to buy them.  I have a couple of recipes
> where I would prefer to use red potatoes but I'm
> not gonna trust them any more.  Anyway, I've used
> russets for potato salad my whole life.  They make
> the best potato salad, imo.

There are many varieties of red potatoes and many varieties of russets and
they can have different characteristics, probably slightly different flavors
as well.  Try again, maybe at another store that may not be carrying
potatoes from the same area or grower.  But, as someone else pointed out,
the growing season can change the taste and texture of fruits and
vegetables.

============================

From: blake murphy 
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2003 01:15:55 GMT
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
>No, I always use russets.  I will eat the waxy
>varieties but don't care for them all that much.
>I use russets for everything. 

i use russets for stew, though you're not supposed to do that either.
i don't cook them for hours, though.

============================

From: someone 
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 00:29:00 +0100
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
> I recently bought a 15 lb. bag of russets
> which were on sale. 

There are well over 200 varieties of potatoes, and Alan Romans' excellent
little booklet tells you a lot about each variety.  He allocates a value of
1 (e.g. Belle de Fontenay) for French salad potatoes, which remain as firm
as little bullets and are excellent in potato salad.  At the other end are
the No. 10's, which fall to bits when cooking and are best for mashing only,
e.g. Midas (Dry Matter 9, good for floury mashing). In the middle are the
6's and 7's which can be used for chips, fries and so on.

Skin colour is irrelevant, sounds like you had a No. 9    ;-)  Yukon Golds
are classifed as Dry Matter 6, good for baking and frying.

You can get his booklet here:  look for Alan Romans' 30-page guide to seed
potatoes.

http://www.btinternet.com/~richard.wiltshire/allnl13.htm

============================

From: thenightfly27[at]webtv.net (Chad)
Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 18:15:46 -0700 (PDT)
--------
What might have happened is thet the pototoes were old, or stored in
the refrigerator. Which is such the case when supermarkets put them on
sale. I would always check to see if the potatoes have any sort of
sprouts on them before you buy them. (That's a sure sign of age)

============================

From: Kate Connally 
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 2003 15:35:28 -0400
--------
Chad wrote:
> What might have happened is thet the pototoes were old, or stored in
> the refrigerator. Which is such the case when supermarkets put them on
> sale. I would always check to see if the potatoes have any sort of
> sprouts on them before you buy them. (That's a sure sign of age)

No, these were perfect-looking beautiful potatoes.
Not even a hint of a sprout.  Totally smooth skin
and nice even shapes, not all lumpy and bumpy.  Nary
a bad spot to be found.  In fact I have almost never
seen potatoes so free of eyes!  It was amazing.
And I don't know about the supermarket keeping them
in the refrigerator but I do.  I've been doing it 
for years.  Keeps them from sprouting and also keeps
them from the light so they don't turn green.  It
has never affected the texture before so I'm sure that's
not the reason.  Nothing wrong with keeping them in
the fridge - about the same temp as the root cellar
in the winter in them olden days.

============================

From: peecee 
Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 22:48:13 +1000
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
> I first used some for gado gado.  I boiled them

I am interested to know why potatoes were in gado gado? Gado gado the way 
I know of it, is an Indonesian dish involving noodles, crisp greens and 
peanut sauce, not a potato dish?

============================

From: Kate Connally 
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 2003 15:53:29 -0400
--------
peecee wrote:
> I am interested to know why potatoes were in gado gado? Gado gado the way
> I know of it, is an Indonesian dish involving noodles, crisp greens and
> peanut sauce, not a potato dish?

Gado gado the way I know it is an Indonesian dish
involving potatoes, par-boiled green beans, par-boiled
cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, fried tofu, hot peppers, 
and hard-boiled eggs, etc.  I've had it in a number 
of different Indonesian restaurants in California 
and a couple of other places.  There were variations 
on a theme.  There used to be a really lousy,
but authentic Indonesian restaurant in Pittsburgh.  They
made it with nothing but soggy, watery cabbage and green
beans.  The kacang saus (peanut sauce) got all diluted
by the water and it was totally disgusting.  A place
in Chambersburg, PA made it with shredded lettuce as
a base and topped with the other veggies such as cucumbers,
tomato, green peas (par-boiled I think), shredded carrot,
etc.

I base my recipe on the gado gado I used to get at
my favorite Indonesian restaurant in Inglewood, CA
(unfortunately gone now) and modified by several
recipes I have collected over the years from Indonesian
cookbooks, magazines, and the internet.  The way I have
most often seen it done was as a make your own with all
the different ingredients put out and you take what you
like.

This particular time I was not feeling like cabbage so
I used torn romaine as the base.  I had cooked green
beans (cooled to room temp.), grape tomatoes, boiled
sliced potatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced jalapenos, hard-
boiled eggs, and strips of red bell pepper.  I didn't
bother with the fried tofu and it's a pain to make
and I'm not all that crazy about it.  I made krupuk 
(shrimp crackers) to go with it.  I have my own recipe for 
the peanut sauce which I have developed over the years
from a combination of different recipes.  My contains
natural peanut butter (sometimes I buy raw peanuts and
fry them and then grind them but in my old age I'm getting
too lazy to do that anymore), coconut milk, Indonesian
soy sauce (kecap manis), hot red pepper flakes, lime
juice, palm sugar or brown sugar.  (I think that's it -
doing this from memory.)

One of my favorite things to do with leftover potatoes
from gado gado is to fry them in some bacon fat until
they are nice and brown and crispy and then just eat
them with some of the peanut sauce on them.  Yum!
Maybe some of the hard-boiled eggs on the side with
peanut sauce.  Those are my two favorite things in
gado gado.  They taste the best with the peanut sauce.

============================

From: Bob Pastorio 
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2003 18:45:46 -0400
--------
Kate Connally wrote:
> I recently bought a 15 lb. bag of russets
> which were on sale.  I usually buy only
> loose potatoes and I pick through the bin
> for the nicest ones.  However these potatoes
> looked quite nice for bagged potatoes - large
> and evenly shaped.  So I bought them.
> 
> I first used some for gado gado.  I boiled them
> whole and then peeled and sliced them.  I thought
> I had overcooked them because they were way softer
> than they should have been.  They were almost mushy.
> So I thought they were over cooked.

Russets are baking potatoes, not very good for cooking in a moist 
method. Cutting them and roasting won't give you that fluffy russet 
finish, either. They need to be cooked at high temperature in their 
skins.

For the kind of recipes you were doing, you probably want a thin-skin 
potato.

============================

From: jblake3624[at]aol.com (Jblake3624)
Date: 04 Sep 2003 22:50:32 GMT
--------
Bob Pastorio wrote:
>Russets are baking potatoes, not very good for cooking 
>in a moist method. Cutting them and roasting won't give 
>you that fluffy russet finish, either. They need to be cooked 
>at high temperature in their 

Interesting. I use russets, red skins and Yukons for mashed
potatoes and salad all the time. When I use russets, they
turn out fine.

============================

From: Bob Pastorio 
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2003 22:35:43 -0400
--------
Jblake3624 wrote:
> Interesting. I use russets, red skins and Yukons for mashed
> potatoes and salad all the time. When I use russets, they
> turn out fine.

Generally, russets will be lighter and a bit fluffier than most others 
when baked. For mashed potatoes, they'll work well and seem able to 
hold more butter than the waxier ones. I did a recipe a while back 
that asked for equal weights of butter and potato whisked to 
incorporate air. They were wonderful. For a few minutes before they 
broke and separated into potatoes and butter. Recipe from Vongerichten.

Using them for potato salad can certainly, as your experience 
documents, work and the finished pieces of potato will usually be more 
tender than the waxy ones. They'll most often be smoother to the bite. 
Cook faster, too.

The age, moisture content and starch conversion will be significant 
determinants of mouthfeel of any potato dish.

Once sat through a lecture about spuds given by a guy from an Idaho 
potato growers group. Got a few facts and a good nap.

============================

From: Kate Connally 
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 2003 15:55:11 -0400
--------
Bob Pastorio wrote:
> Russets are baking potatoes, not very good for cooking in a moist
> method. Cutting them and roasting won't give you that fluffy russet
> finish, either. They need to be cooked at high temperature in their
> skins.

As I already told someone else, I use russets for
everything and they work just fine.  I like the flavor
and texture of russets better than any other potato
and they can be used anyway you want and they are just
fine.  These are some sort of alien mutant russets
I got this time.  They're totally weird.


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