How to Choose Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

by Food & Drink Editor

How to Choose Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes. With such a bewildering variety of potatoes and sweet potatoes around today, how do you know what to pick?

Make sure any potato or sweet potato feels heavy.

Avoid any potato with decayed areas (usually at the ends), blemishes or sunken spots.

Choose potatoes of comparable size for uniform cooking.

Pick russet potatoes (the normal brown kind) for baking or mashing. Russet potatoes turn mealy when cooked and start to fall apart when cut.

Select yellow, white or red potatoes for boiling, steaming, roasting or gratins. These potatoes have a firmer texture and won't fall apart when cut. Yellow and red potatoes can also be mashed, but they won't be as fluffy as russets.

Choose sweet potatoes with orange, moist flesh (often mislabeled as "yams" in supermarkets). These potatoes have a sweeter taste than those with yellow, dry flesh.


  • Store potatoes in a cool, dark place (but don't store them near onions). Potatoes can keep for weeks. Handle sweet potatoes with care, as their skin is delicate. Sweet potatoes don't keep as well as other potatoes; eat them within a week. If a potato appears green under the skin, peel it deeply to remove the green part. The rest of the potato should be fine, but the green portion can make you sick. Be sure to remove any sprouts or eyes. The "yams" you see at the supermarket are usually sweet potatoes. True yams are starchy rather than sweet.

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