Select loose potatoes that are well formed, smooth, firm, with eyes, and no discoloration, cracks, bruises or soft spots. Red potatoes and some whites are sometimes treated with colored or clear wax to make them appear fresher than they are. Also avoid “green” potatoes. They have been exposed to light and have a bitter taste.
Potatoes are classified by shape, skin color and use. The long brownish ones are good for a variety of uses but are best for baking. Rounded or long whites are preferred for boiling and baking, and the small red ones are ideal for boiling. “New” potatoes, the small ones that are dug early before the skins have set, are best boiled or steamed.
Do not wash your potato before storing. Washing speeds decay. Potatoes can be safely stored in a dry, dark place for three months at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Buy only a week’s supply if you must store them at higher temperatures, which cause sprouting and shriveling. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator. Below 40 degrees, potato starch turns to sugar, making the potato too sweet. Too cold of storage also darkens potatoes during cooking.
Bake, boil or steam them in their skins. Some nutrients close to the skin are lost when potatoes are peeled before cooking. If you must peel them, use a vegetable parer and peel as thinly as possible. Do not soak peeled potatoes in cold water to crisp them, since some nutrients will dissolve in the water. For some great potato recipes, check out the Idaho Potato Commission. Check out Sproutabl for a guide on growing potatoes.