Know your potatoes

Published Jul 6, 2011


Some supermarkets and vegetable shops are now labelling potatoes with the name of the variety. This is proving helpful when deciding what type to buy for a specific dish.

Potatoes South Africa has classified spuds into three categories, each suitable for a specific cooking method.


(Cultivars include Mondial, Fabula and BP13)

Waxy potatoes have a high moisture content and a low starch content. During boiling, they stay firm and keep their shape, which makes them ideal for any dish where you don’t want the potato to break up, such as a potato salad.

They are not suitable for cooking in a microwave and not at all suitable for mashing. They can be used for chips but will make a “slap” chip and not a crisp chip.


(Cultivars include BP1, VDP, Fianna, Valor, and Sifra aka Bianca)

These potatoes are somewhat moist with a slightly floury feel. They retain their shape during cooking and can be used for all cooking methods. These are the variety most commonly available in supermarkets.


(UTD – Up to Date, Caren, Darius and Avalanche)

This variety has a low moisture content and a high starch content. They do not retain their shape when boiled and are excellent for making mash. They also make the best chips and roast potatoes, which are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.



Serves 4

4-6 Mediterranean potatoes

125ml Greek yoghurt

30ml lemon juice

20ml honey

30ml tahini

salt and pepper

45ml chopped mint

15ml toasted sesame seeds

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks.

Combine the yoghurt, lemon juice, honey and tahini and mix well.

Season the potatoes well and add the dressing and mint. Mix to combine.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.


(Waxy/ floury)

Makes 18-20


500ml flour

3ml salt

100g butter

125ml sour cream

1 egg

ice water to mix


1-2 potatoes – waxy/floury

30ml olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5ml chopped garlic

250ml grated cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

60g butter

Put the flour and the salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine sour cream and egg and add to the flour with enough water to make the mixture come together to form a dough. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth.

Wrap in cling film and set aside for 20 minutes.

Filling: Peel and chop the potatoes and boil until soft. Mash well.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until soft. Add to the mashed potato together with the cheese and seasoning. Mix well.

Divide the dough in half and roll out one portion on a lightly floured surface. Cut out discs with 10-12cm cutter.

Put a spoonful of potato mixture on half of the disc then fold over the other side so that the filling is completely contained. Seal the edges by pressing down with a fork.

Repeat until all the dough and filling have been used.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Add the pies a few at a time and cook until they float to the top. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a tray.

Heat half of the butter in a large frying pan and add half the pies, cooking until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Repeat with remaining butter and pies.

Serve warm.



Serves 4-6

4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

water to boil

chicken stock

5ml curry powder

30ml olive oil

salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in water with some chicken stock added, until just tender. Drain.

Combine the curry powder and olive oil and toss the potatoes in this mixture, coating them well.

Put the potatoes into a roasting pan and roast at 200°C for 30-40 minutes until golden and crispy.

Season well with salt and pepper before serving.


(Waxy/ floury)

A Danish speciality served on Christmas Eve but ideal for a Highveld winter meal.

Serves 4-6

1kg baby potatoes

250ml sugar

30g butter

80ml potato cooking liquid

salt to taste

Put the potatoes into a saucepan and boil until tender. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Cool potatoes slightly, then peel.

Put the sugar into a large frying pan over a low heat and leave until it melts. Take care not to let it turn too dark as it will become bitter.

Add the butter and stir well.

Gradually add the water, stirring until smooth.

Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, until the potatoes are well coated with the mixture.

Season with salt before serving.

* Instead of using baby potatoes, you can use large potatoes and cut them into chunks after boiling and peeling.


(Waxy/ floury)

375ml self raising flour

2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated

1 onion, peeled and grated

5ml salt

a good grinding of black pepper

15ml chopped rosemary

100g goat’s cheese, crumbled

100g olives, pitted and chopped

1 egg

10ml wholegrain mustard

30-40 ml milk

Combine flour, potato, onion salt, pepper and rosemary in a mixing bowl. Mix in most of the cheese and olives, reserving some for the top.

Combine egg and mustard and add, together with enough milk, to the flour mix to make a stiff dough.

Shape the dough into a round on a floured baking tray and press the remaining olives and cheese on to the top.

Add a few sprigs of rosemary.

Bake at 200°C for 40-50 minutes. Serve warm.


(Waxy/ floury)

Serves 4-6

4-5 potatoes, peeled and quartered

10ml lemon rind

125ml lemon juice

80ml olive oil

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper

15ml chopped fresh oregano

Put the potatoes into an oven-proof casserole dish. Combine the lemon rind, juice, olive oil and stock and mix well. Pour over the potatoes.

Add seasoning and oregano and roast at 200°C for 40-50 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the potatoes are soft. Stir frequently during the cooking time.

These potatoes are delicious served as an accompaniment to a roast. - The Star

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