Potatoes 101

Potatoes in retail

How to select the best potatoes

  • Look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes with no cuts, bruises, or discoloration.

How to store and handle potatoes

  • Store potatoes in a well-ventilated place, optimally at a temperature between 45ºF and 55ºF.
  • Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf life.
  • Colder temperatures (as in a refrigerator) cause a potato's starches to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked. If you refrigerate, let the potato gradually warm to room temperature before cooking.
  • Avoid areas with varying temperatures (like beneath a sink or close to large appliances) or that receive a lot of sunlight, such as on a countertop near a window.
  • Don't wash potatoes (or any produce for that matter) before storing. Dampness promotes early spoilage.
  • Green on the skin of a potato is the build-up of a naturally occurring compound called solanine. Solanine produces a bitter taste and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause illness. If there is slight greening, cut away the green portions of the potato skin before cooking and eating.
  • Sprouts are a sign that the potato is trying to grow. Cut the sprouts away before cooking or eating the potato.

Types of Potatoes


Russet Potatoes

Russet potatoes are characterized by a brown, netted skin and white flesh. Many delicious results can be had from this variety. Russets are perfect for light and fluffy mashed potatoes or traditional crispy, pan-fried potatoes.


Yellow Potatoes

Yellow Potatoes have a golden color which means that less oil or butter needs to be added making them great for lighter dishes. Their flesh has a buttery flavor and they are used for baking, boiling, roasting, and mashing.


Red Potatoes

Red potatoes have skin that is ruby to deep red and is smooth with light brown speckling. The flesh is crisp, white, and firm. When cooked, Red potatoes have a waxy dense texture and a mild, buttery, and earthy flavor that is can be brought out by roasting or grilling.


White Potatoes

White potatoes have thin skin that does not need to be peeled before cooking and are often referred to as the all-purpose potato. White potatoes are best suited for frying, mashing, steaming and boiling, and for making potato salads.

Potatoes in Michigan

  • Michigan ranks eighth in the nation for potato production with more than 45,000 acres dedicated to growing potatoes. 
  • Approximately 1.9 billion pounds of potatoes are harvested in Michigan annually.
  • Michigan is home to more than 80 potato growers, most of which are multi-generational family farms.
  • Michigan is the largest producer of potatoes for potato chips production in the country. In fact, Michigan potatoes fill 1 out of every 4 bags of potato chips made in the U.S.
  • The Michigan potato industry contributes about $2.53 billion to Michigan’s economy, including supporting more than 21,000 jobs in agriculture, food production, and beyond. 

Learn more at mipotato.com/NoSmallPotatoes 

No Small Potatoes