Russet potatoes (also called old potatoes, baking potatoes and, sometimes, Idaho potatoes — after the state leading in production) have an elliptical shape with a rough brown skin and numerous eyes. The russet’s white flesh is somewhat dry and mealy after cooking. This potato’s low moisture and high starch content make it excellent for baking, mashing and frying.
Background – A late-maturing, high-yielding russet potato cultivar with a high tuber specific gravity that was released in 2002 by the USDA/ARS and the Agricultural Experiment Stations of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. A high percentage of No. 1 potatoes is common with this variety. Appearance – Excellent conformation and an attractive medium-brown colour with an oblong shape. They tend to be short. Flavour – Culinary quality is high, with larger tubers suitable for fresh market if heavily russeted skin is not essential. Usage – Grown primarily for the processed market. Its resistance to the accumulation of sugars during long-term storage also makes it suitable for processing out of storage into french fries. Makes excellent mashed potatoes.
Background – Bannock Russet was released in 1999 by the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the Agricultural Experiment Stations of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It is a late-maturing, oblong russet variety with excellent fresh-pack and processing qualities. Appearance – It has an attractive russeted skin and short tuber length. Excellent culinary qualities also make it suitable for the fresh market. Bannock Russet, in comparison with Russet Burbank, has consistently produced greater U.S. No. 1 yields. Flavour – Similar to Russet Burbank. Usage – When stored at 7.2°C (45°F), the Bannock Russet produces a lighter fry colour and has a lower glucose concentration compared to a Russet Burbank. Medium to high solids.
Background – Named a variety in 2005, this is one of the newest graduates of the potato-breeding program of U.S. university research scientists in the Intermountain West and Pacific. It is ready to harvest earlier than other leading potatoes, meaning the Blazer Russet can replenish dwindling supplies of potatoes remaining in cold storage from the previous harvest. Appearance – The oblong, medium to large tubers average about 200 to 225 g (7 to 8 oz.) each. They have characteristic light russeting on their brown to tan skin, with firm, cream-white or white flesh inside. Flavour – Similar to Russet Burbank; yields dry and fluffy baked potatoes and golden fries with crisp outer flesh and dry mashed flavour centre. Usage – Well suited for fresh-market sale or for potato processors to make into frozen potato products.
Background – Released by the Tri-State Breeding Program in 2009, this early to medium variety is a possible replacement for popular Norkotah. It has excellent fresh-merit ratings and exceeds other leading potatoes in its overall score. Appearance – Classic has excellent tuber shape and appearance, and a high proportion of No. 1s, high solids, and good fry colour. Flavour – The Classic Russet has a higher protein content than many of the standard russet varieties (22–32 percent greater). It also has a high culinary rating, with qualities similar to Russet Burbank. It is light and fluffy in baking and produces light fries after harvest and shortly thereafter. Usage – Sold in fresh-pack markets and processed right out of the field or during the early storage season.
Background – Released by the Tri-State Program in 2009, this is a medium to late variety for both fresh and processing markets. It has a high protein content, measuring 38 percent greater than Russet Burbank. This variety has an exceptionally high yield average, specific gravity, and high solids. Appearance – It produces oblong tubers with brown, medium-heavy russet skin. The eyes are shallow in depth and intermediate in number and are evenly distributed. Tuber set is low, and tuber size averages medium. The flesh is white to creamy white and firm. Flavor – Qualities similar to Russet Burbank. A light and fluffy baker with excellent fry characteristics and taste, often outperforming Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank in tests. Usage – Its excellent fry colour out of storage and its attractiveness make this variety suitable for both processing and fresh-market usage. It has a high specific gravity and is resistant to sugar ends, as well as most internal and external tuber defects.
Background – A product of the cooperative USDA/ARS/University of Idaho breeding program in Aberdeen. From a 1993 cross between two varieties. It has been evaluated for several years in public and industry trials throughout the western United States. Appearance – A mid- to late-season variety notable for its high yield of oblong to long, medium-russet-colour tubers, high specific gravity, excellent fry colour from cold storage, and resistance to sugar ends. Brown skin colour and white flesh interior. Flavour – Culinary quality is high, with larger tubers suitable for fresh market. Usage – Good yields of larger-size 340 grams (12 oz.) and larger tubers versus the Russet Burbank. Its resistance to the accumulation of sugars during long-term storage also makes it suitable for processing out of storage into french fries. Makes excellent mashed potatoes and dry, fluffy baked potatoes.
Background – Ranger Russet is a medium- to late-maturing russet potato jointly released by the USDA and the University of Idaho in 1991. It has high solids and is used mostly for frozen processing and occasionally for fresh pack. Appearance – Long and slightly flattened shape with a medium-russet-colour skin and white flesh. Eyes are numerous and medium to deep. Produces a consistently long shape and high percentage of U.S. No. 1 potatoes. Flavour – Culinary traits: bakes up dry and fluffy with outstanding potato flavour. Fries crisp and light golden in colour. Usage – Grown primarily for the processed market. Because of the high specific gravity (averaging 1.095 in Idaho) with low sugars, this variety processes well for lightly coloured fries with good texture.
Background – Developed in 1914 by Lou Sweet, a previous president of the Potato Association of America. Scientist Luther Burbank is credited with the discovery of the original seeds. While Idaho growers have successfully produced many varieties over the years, the Russet Burbank is their greatest commercial success and has established a strong brand equity for the state. A late-maturing variety that requires a 140- to 150-day growing season. Appearance – The exterior skin is relatively thin and light brown in colour. The exterior shape is oval and slightly flattened, with few shallow eyes. The interior is off-white to ivory and moderately dense. Flavour – A distinctive, earthy potato flavour. The high solid (starch) yields a grainy texture and slightly chewy skin. Bakes up dry and fluffy; fries crisp and golden brown. Usage – Fresh, frozen, or dehydrated, this variety is ideal to all preparation styles.
Background – Released in 1987 by North Dakota State University, this variety now ranks second in popularity for fresh-market use. Attractive type (refers to consistent oval shape); a high percentage of No. 1 potatoes is common with this early-maturing variety. Appearance – Excellent conformation; attractive medium-brown colour with a long to oblong shape. Flavour – A mild potato flavour with a soft texture and moderate density. Tends to bake up creamy and moist, not grainy. Moderately chewy skin. White to pale yellow interior. Medium specific gravity for most; newer generations have higher starch content. Usage – Grown primarily for the fresh market. Because of the uniform appearance, has had good success in the retail grocery segment and food-service. Well suited to all preparation types.
Background – Umatilla Russet was jointly released by Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and the ARS/USDA in 1998. This cultivar has attributes that make it an excellent choice for frozen processing. Appearance – Attributes include a high specific gravity, good fry colour, uniform tuber shape, and good resistance to internal physiological disorders. Umatilla produces significantly more U.S. No. 1 tubers 12 oz. or larger than the Russet Burbank typically does. Flavour – Taste test panels have rated the flavour and texture of Umatilla to be at least as good as, or better than, Russet Burbank. Usage – Grown for fresh and frozen french fry processing, with fry colours lighter than the Russet Burbank. In general, Umatilla Russet has less glucose and sucrose accumulation in storage compared to that of Russet Burbank.
Background – Western Russet is a product of the USDA/ARS and University of Idaho, originally crossed in 1979 and released in 2004. Appearance – Good external appearance and processing qualities. Oblong tubers with russet-brown skin. High percentage of U.S. No. 1 potatoes. Tuber size is moderate to large with a slightly flattened shape, shallow eyes, and white flesh colour. Flavour – A moderately high specific gravity allows potatoes to bake up relatively dry and fluffy, slightly more moist than the Russet Burbank. Very good potato flavour. Usage – Grown for fresh and frozen french fry processing, with fry colours comparable to the Russet Burbank.
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