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Common Grades of Potatoes

Q:

What are the most common grades of potatoes? Do No. 2 potatoes taste different than No. 1 potatoes?

A:

I’ll answer your second question first. There is no difference in tastes between the grades of potatoes. Think back to the harvest, all the potatoes get scooped up and placed into storage. It is not until they arrive at a potato shipper that the potatoes get sorted into different sizes and humans look at the visual imperfections or defects and route those that have knobs or pointed ends, non oval shapes and cuts or bruises into areas that eventually become processing potatoes or No. 2 potatoes.

Nature does not provide all perfect potatoes to reward the grower’s efforts. Field run lots have a wide range of sizes and shapes. The flavor, texture and food value of the misshapen spuds are as good as their more beautiful siblings, but they will not satisfy No. 1 grade requirements.

When field run lots are sorted in Idaho shipper’s warehouses, the workers on the sorting tables clip off knobs or ends and route the tubers into the U.S. No. 2 channels. Although the skin heals where the knobs are cut off, the “duces” will not bring the number one price, but have their fans nevertheless. A foodservice operator who is preparing French fries, mashed or hash browns from fresh potatoes may prefer No. 2’s for their lower price, while not compromising quality or taste. A special state grade called “The Idaho Standard” is another specification which may satisfy the needs for cost. No clipped ends are allowed, but shape and cosmetic requirements are not as strict as U.S. No. 1 grade.