Potato, pot-aht-to, however you say it, spuds are spectacular! As great as they are it’s important to choose the right potato for the right recipe in order to get the right result. We’ve talked about the difference between waxy and mealy potatoes (You can check that out here.) and I’ve given you a primer on the basic potato types (click here for a refresh). What we haven’t tackled is new potatoes vs potatoes.
New Potatoes vs Potatoes
Contrary to what you might think, new potatoes aren’t just small potatoes. (See what I did there?) They are small because they’re harvested early in the season before reaching maturity. Think of them as baby potatoes. Farmers may pull some potatoes early to make sure the bulk of the crop has enough room to grow and mature.
When most potatoes are harvested they’re usually stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space, or cured, for up to 2 weeks. Curing gives potatoes time for their skin to toughen up and to heal any cuts or breaks. Once those nicks or cuts are healed, the potatoes will have a longer shelf life so they can hang out in produce sections or in your pantry much longer without going bad. New potatoes are dug and sent to market right away without being cured, which explains why they don’t last as long as other potatoes.
Store your new potatoes at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate them – the cool temperature will turn the starch to sugar, giving them a slightly sweet, off taste.
New potatoes are waxy potatoes (low starch content), which gives them their creamy texture, making them a tasty choice for this Chive & New Potato Salad.
Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces that are all about the same size so they’ll cook in about the same time.
Use a fork, not a knife, to test the potatoes for doneness. A knife’s sharp tip will slide easily into an undercooked potato.
Your blanching water should be as salty as the ocean in order to season the potatoes well so don’t be stingy with the salt!
Be sure to let the potatoes cool completely before mixing in the dressing. If the potatoes are hot they will melt the dressing.
Large pot for blanching potatoes
- 2 pounds red or white (or both) new potatoes, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup chopped chives
- ¼ cup finely-chopped red onion
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Place potatoes in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add just enough cold water to cover them and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil, and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes, running them under cool water to stop the cooking. Place the cooled, dry potatoes in a large bowl.
- Stir the mayonnaise, chives, red onion, vinegar and mustard together in a small bowl. Add to the potatoes and toss until potatoes are evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover the potato salad and chill until ready to serve.