There’s a reason why Idaho is known for its potato crop but with its significant size, many people wonder, where Idaho potatoes are grown?
The majority of Idaho’s potatoes are grown on the south-eastern side of the state. The favorable conditions in this area of the state make it ideal for growing a large crop of potatoes. There may be other parts of the state that also grow potatoes but they may not produce the same yield.
Why the South-Eastern Side?
There are three reasons why the majority of potatoes in Idaho are grown in the south-eastern area of the state: climate, water, and soil. The climate on the eastern side is at an elevation of about 5000′.
This is a high altitude and allows the temperatures to reach up to the 80s during the day while evenings are much cooler around 40 degrees. This large temperature variation is great for growing potatoes. The water availability in the area is also ideal.
The potato-growing region in Eastern Idaho is located at the base of the Teton Mountains. These mountains will collect snow which gathers during the winter months. During the spring, the runoff fills reservoirs and fills the underground aquafer. This water is then used for potato irrigation throughout the season.
Finally, the soil makes for good conditions as well. The Snake River Plain in Idaho was once covered in volcanic dust a few thousand years ago. This dust created a light soil that’s perfect for potatoes. Instead of hard, compact soil, the potatoes can expand and reach farther. The ash also contributed to the nutrient levels in the soil, contributing to optimal growth.
Potatoes Grown in Idaho
Idaho grows four main types of potato and each has its own characteristics and flavor profile. The four main types that are grown here include russet, red, fingerling, and gold.
1. Russet Potatoes
Russet potatoes refer to two types of potatoes: Burbank and Norkotah. These are potatoes that have relatively thin and lighter-brown skin. They tend to be oval and flattened in shape.
The inside of the potato is dense and it has a distinctive earthy potato flavor. The starch flavor is high. These varieties of potatoes are preferred for baking and frying.
They will cook up dry and fluffy or crisp up to turn a golden brown. They’re often used for mashed potatoes as well and are great both fresh and frozen.
2. Red Potatoes
Red potatoes refer to California Red, Red La Soda, and Norland. Regardless of the specific type though, all three varieties can be distinguished by their red skin. They tend to be round or slightly oval-shaped and have a slightly waxy texture. They’re used for baking and boiling but rarely fried.
They tend to be optimal in dishes such as potato salads and retain their shape better than other varieties. They have a high taste-test ranking and are best used fresh and not frozen.
Fingerling potatoes come in three main varieties: Russian Banana, French fingerling, and Purple Peruvian. The three colors of these potatoes are yellow, red, and purple.
They tend to be very small as their name suggests. Their flavor profile varies slightly from potato to potato but they tend to have a buttery or nutty flavor. These potatoes are best enjoyed fresh and not frozen.
4. Gold Potatoes
The two types of gold potatoes grown in Idaho are the Yukon gold and the Yukon gem. They are relatively light-yellow skinned potatoes with a moist, flesh interior. They have a buttery flavor and are one of the most versatile of the potato varieties. They can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, dehydrated, and are also known for being good in chips. Yukon gold potatoes can be used in almost any potato recipe and with good results.
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What is so special about Idaho potatoes?
Idaho potatoes are a type of potato that is grown in the state of Idaho in the United States. Idaho potatoes are known for their Idaho-grown, russet-skinned potatoes. They are starchy, high-density potatoes and have a medium to high glycemic index. Idaho potatoes are predominately used for baking and frying.
When fried, they result in a light and fluffy french fry. Baked Idaho potatoes have golden crispy skin on the outside with a moist and fluffy inside. Some say that the Idaho potato is the perfect all-purpose potato due to its versatility in recipes.
Whether you are baking, boiling, mashing, roasting, or even grilling, Idaho potatoes are the perfect fit. So what makes Idaho potatoes so
Frequently Asked Questions
While most of Idaho is well known for its potatoes, that is by no means what Northern Idaho is known for. North Idaho is well known for lakes, mountains, and scenic views. However, the colder climate, shorter growing season, and more mountainous terrain are not well suited for the mass growing of potatoes.
That would be Bingham County, where potato farming is a major industry. While potatoes are not the only crop grown in Bingham County, they are a major part of the local economy. So next time you’re enjoying some Idaho fries, be sure to thank the farmers of Bingham County for their hard work.
Enjoying Idaho Potatoes
While not all of Idaho is going to grow potatoes, the location where they grow then ensures that they end up with high-quality products which is then shipped around the world.
Idaho farmers also have generations of experience and knowledge growing this root vegetable. They also dedicate research into potato growth and development so understanding how to optimize this crop is an ongoing process.