Ask Dr. Potato

Number of Potatoes to Use When Only Given Pounds

Q: I have noticed that a lot more recipes do not state how many potatoes are needed, they only state the number of pounds needed. How do I figure out the number of potatoes to use in my recipe when only given pounds?
A: Good question. Here are some of the reasons we are not as specific about the number of potatoes to use. In foodservice, No. 1 Idaho potatoes are packed in a 50 lb carton and the sizes (which chefs often specify) vary by approximately how many potatoes fit into a box. So, a 50 count is about one pound for each potato. No. 2 potatoes sold in foodservice can vary too, some chefs order a 10 ounce and above size, especially if doing French fries. In retail, the produce manager may stock loose potatoes which they order from the same foodservice cartons. The loose ones are often purchased by consumers that want a baked potato, so they are bigger than what you find in a 5 lb bag. A retailer often orders a 70 or 80 count potato for their displays. The bags available at the grocery store can contain multiple sizes, from 2 ½ ounce and up. And finally, the USDA specs are based on a 5.3 ounce potato, about 100 calories. On average, if fixing the recipe at home you could buy about 5 loose potatoes from the grocery store for this recipe.Sorry I can’t be more exact.