How long should you boil potatoes to cook them properly?

There are waxy potatoes, and then there are starchy potatoes — both used for different potato combinations.

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Different types of potatoes require different boiling times.

Different types of potatoes require different boiling times.

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Did you know that when you are devouring your potato salad and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner, you are eating two different types of potatoes?

There are waxy potatoes, and then there are starchy potatoes — both used for different potato combinations.

Starchy potatoes are typically used for baked, mashed, fried or roasted potatoes because they have low moisture and sugar levels, but a high starch content, according to the Maine Potato Board. The low sugar content helps the potatoes collapse better.

Waxy potatoes have high moisture levels and low starch levels, which helps them hold their shape while cooking, according to the Maine Potato Board. They are used for salads or casseroles.

How long to boil potatoes

Starchy potatoes take about 45 minutes to cook, including the boiling start time and simmering finish, according to the Food Network. Potatoes like russets or Idahos are considered starchy. These are the types of potatoes that break down easily and are ideal for mashed potatoes.

Waxy potatoes take around 20 to 25 minutes to cook, including the boiling start time, according to the Food Network. New potatoes, red potatoes and fingerlings are all considered waxy potatoes. These potatoes will keep their shape in the pot, as long as they are not overcooked.

While there is no exact time measurement on how long to boil potatoes, there are estimates you can make based on the potatoes’ size, according to Bon Appetit.

  • Baby potatoes: 10–12 minutes
  • Small potatoes: 15–20 minutes
  • Larger cubed potatoes: 30–40 minutes

If you want to check the doneness of your potatoes, slide a fork or butter knife into the potato. If your potato is meant to stay intact, like for a salad, you want the utensil to slide easily into the potato. If your potato is meant for something like mashed potatoes, then the utensil should easily slide in and out of the potato, according to Bon Appetit.

How long to boil spuds if you’re making mashed potatoes

Rather than boiling “mashed potatoes,” you are boiling a starchy potato — to make mashed potatoes.

It is important to do everything you can to minimize the amount of water starchy potatoes absorb during boiling, so be very careful not to overcook them.

To prevent overcooking, cook the potato whole with the skin on. Once the potato is fork-tender, remove it immediately from the boiling water, according to the Food Network. Once the potato is cooled off you can peel the skins off and begin to make your meal.

If your potatoes are already cut and you need to boil them, make sure that as soon as the water comes to a boil, you reduce it to a simmer. If not, the potatoes will bump one another and release more starch, making them gummy, according to the Food Network. After they finish cooking lay them on a sheet pan so the steam evaporates and they dry out a bit.

Read more at usatoday.com

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