Waxy vs Floury
BY NICK MACMAHON | 9 MAY 2019
“They” always say floury makes the best roast potatoes, “you must only use floury potatoes” when you are making roast potatoes. Not true. Waxy potatoes are excellent when roasted. No doubt about it though, a roasted waxy vs a roasted floury is a totally different end-product.
What makes a potato waxy or floury comes down to the levels of starch in them. High levels of starch make a potato floury and low levels, waxy. As potatoes grow, sugars in the potato group together and turn into starch. This means, any young potato (often labelled as New Potatoes) will not have converted its sugars into starch and can safely be assumed to be waxy. Different varieties produce different amounts of starch so it’s important to work out what kind of potatoes you need for whatever you’re cooking.
Want your potatoes to hold together and have a solid bite to them? you need waxy.
Want super soft potatoes that a baby could eat? you want floury.
It’s hard remembering which varieties are waxy and which are floury, so I won't begin listing potato varieties. If you do want a list, there are many resources available online to help.
Without having to remember a list of potato variety names, here are some tips for working out what kind of potatoes
Anything labelled, ideal for mashing - Floury
Anything labelled salad potatoes- Waxy
Small, little potatoes - Waxy
Long potatoes - Waxy
Huge potatoes - Floury
Thick, rough skin - Floury
Thin, smooth skin - Waxy
Caution, these two have a similar name but are not
Maris Piper - Floury
Maris Peer - Waxy
When it comes to cooking them, you can do whatever you want with your potatoes but different types of potatoes will behave differently. Waxy potatoes will hold together well, so can be cooked in any way. They hold together well so are good for salads or soups/curries. Floury potatoes will lose structural integrity so they can easily fall apart when cooked. These are perfect for mashing or pureeing.
But for this article, let us focus on roasting potatoes. The Sunday dinner staple. The side dish that everyone claims they can make better than anyone. For this article, I have cooked one waxy variety and one floury variety of potatoes using the same cooking method and then compared the results. A small waxy variety called ‘Vivaldi’ and a floury variety called ‘Rooster’. Note: Vivaldi are waxy when harvested young but are floury when mature.
The roasting method is simple;
-Simmer the potatoes in water until easily pierced with a fork
-Drain and add to mixing bowl with olive oil and salt
-Place on a baking paper-lined roasting tray and roast in a hot oven until golden brown, 220˚c for a conventional oven or 200˚c if with a fan.
The end results are quite different. The roasted waxy have a thick but still crispy skin with a creamy, moist and slightly sweet interior. These potatoes hold up fantastically on their own, a great tasting potato requiring little extra fat to taste great.
The classic roasted floury potatoes have as expected, the crispiest exterior but are sadly a bit dry and bland on the inside. An issue that could easily be fixed with lashings of gravy. A great potato to serve alongside a Sunday roast but probably too dry to eat by themselves.
Whenever I make roast potatoes, I always make more than I will eat. Leftover roast potatoes are so versatile and great for bulking up meals. Add them to a salad to make it more substantial. Got eggs? Make a Spanish potato tortilla. Put them in a pan with oil and fry them up, you can then be fancy and call them “Triple cooked chips”.
Here are some of our recipes that include roasted potatoes.