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Red Potatoes Vs. Russet

Updated July 19, 2017

Potatoes are a very popular vegetable in the United States. In fact, the average American eats 56.7kg. a year.The russet potato has long been the primary potato for diners, due to its versatility. In recent years, however, the red potato has rapidly grown in popularity because of its good looks and flavour.

Appearance

A russet potato is brown on the outside, with white flesh on the inside. A red potato has red skin and white flesh. Red potatoes are often harvested in a younger state than russets, resulting in a smaller, more rounded potato. The skin of the russet potato is much thicker than that of the red potato.

Nutrition

Health website Fat Secret notes that there is an estimated 154 calories in a red potato versus 168 calories in a russet. This difference in calories, however, could be related to the larger size of the russet.

Charles Brown, a research geneticist at the USDA, says that, "The antioxidant powers of the coloured potatoes now on the market haven't been measured." For this reason, it is impossible to know if the red potato has more nutritional value than the standard russet.

Cooking

Russet potatoes are higher in starch than red potatoes. This makes them more versatile than the red potato. The low starch content of the red potato makes them more lumpy when used as mashed potatoes. Red potatoes hold together well when boiled.

The thicker skin of the russet may be peeled for some dishes, like mashed potatoes.The thinner skin of the red potato allows it to be left on without sacrificing, and in some cases enhancing, flavour.

Gardening

Red potatoes and russet potatoes grow in the same manner. Neither variety requires more care than the other. Both varieties can be grown in hardiness zones 3 to 10, although russets may not reach their full maturity in zones 9 and 10. Red potatoes are often harvested as "new" potatoes, when the plants are blossoming, instead of waiting until the plants die back to harvest.

Selection

Follow the same procedure when shopping for red and russet potatoes. Select a potato that is heavy and firm. Check to make sure there are no blemishes or dark spots on the potato.

Cost and Availability

Russets are generally priced lower than red potatoes. While red potatoes are very popular, such varieties may not be available at smaller grocery outlets.

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About the Author

Jamie Aramini has been writing professionally since 2006 and is the author of Eat Your Way Around the World, Geography Through Art with Sharon Jeffus, and the Adventures of Munford series.