What Are Red Potatoes?

Carol Luther

Red potatoes are a type of potato with a red skin and, typically, a smaller size than many potatoes. Sometimes called summer potatoes, red potatoes have a skin that is thinner than that found on many potato varieties and a white flesh that is firm and waxy. The main varieties in the red potato family are well suited to baking, roasting and boiling.

Red potatoes have red skins and are sometimes called summer potatoes.
Red potatoes have red skins and are sometimes called summer potatoes.

Most varieties of red potatoes never go to commercial long-term storage facilities. The potato industry considers a potato that has never been in storage to be a new potato. Consumers also frequently refer to red potatoes as new potatoes, because the tubers commonly arrive in markets soon after they are harvested.

There are red potato farmers in several different states in the US.
There are red potato farmers in several different states in the US.

Low in fat and high in potassium, red potatoes also have a good amount of vitamins B6 and C. They are a good source of fiber, particularly when eaten with the skin on. They are filling and can be a nutritious addition to a meal — or be a meal — as long as one refrains from adding large quantities of fat- and salt-laden toppings. This type of potato may not be used in mashed potatoes as frequently as some other varieties are, though it is popular as a boiled, seasoned potato and in many types of potato salad.

Red potato varieties have similar characteristics but different origins and growing times. This versatile potato grows in many regions of the world, though some red potatoes cultivated in the U.S. are best suited for specific regions of the country. The Red La Soda potato was first cultivated in 1953 in the state of Louisiana, where milder weather allows growers to harvest it in the winter and sell it fresh. This potato is a popular crop variety in southeastern states. Louisiana also cultivated the LaDonna red potato, which has been available as seed stock and as a table potato since 1962 and also prefers the climate of the southeastern U.S.

Norland is the second oldest variety of red potato cultivated successfully in the U.S. Introduced in 1957 in North Dakota, it is oblong, much like a Russet potato, though with medium red skin. It adapts to many growing environments. North Dakota also introduced the Viking in 1963, developing it by combining Nordak and Redskin varieties. Viking potatoes can be round or oblong.

Chieftan red potatoes hail from Iowa, where they were developed in 1966. These potatoes are easy to cultivate and thrive in many regions of the U.S. In 1982, Colorado began producing the Sangre red potato, which is larger than the average red potato, matures later in the year and has a fall harvest time. The Red Pontiac is a red potato first cultivated in 1983 in Michigan. The long potatoes also grow in Canada, where producers export them for seed stock.

Minnesota’s Red Ruby debuted in 1994 with a shape that varies from round to the oval shape more common to potatoes. This potato can have netting on its dark red skin. Nordonnas, developed in North Dakota and available since 1995, have dark red skin, tend to be oval in shape, and are larger than other red potatoes.

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