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I often make French fries by cutting potatoes into long strips, adding a bit of oil and spices, then baking them in the oven. Sometimes, this tastes very good. Unfortunately, most of the time, it tastes terrible. After baking the potatoes, I often discover that the potatoes have a very strange flavor and texture. They are somewhat sweet and the color after baking is bright yellow. I have tried baking without spices, and have found they are not to blame for the strange flavor.

  • Am I encountering a different variety of potato or a different kind of vegetable that on the outside looks like a potato?
  • Is it possible these potatoes were harvested at the wrong time, but the outside color is nearly the same?
  • How can I identify which potatoes make French fries?
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It depends where you live. Around the world there are hundreds of varieties of potatoes. Some share the same name, but are actually different. Most varieties of potatoes are NOT good for chips (fries). It's probably best to ask your local fruit and vegetable shop owner which are the best type from what's available and in season. Or source direct from a potato grower –  TFD Mar 16 '12 at 2:30
    
How are you storing your potatoes? Refrigeration can lead to sweetness, I've heard. –  derobert Mar 16 '12 at 17:00
    
@derobert, not just refrigeration. Potatos convert the starch to sugar over time so older potatos will generally be sweeter then when it was first dug out of the dirt. I had an older potato that tasted almost like sweet potato one time. –  Jay Mar 16 '12 at 17:13
    
related : cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/575/… –  Joe Aug 1 '12 at 22:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Good Eats(Alton Brown) has some good descriptions of the various difference's between potatos. He has an episode dedicated to potatoes. Main thing is the starch content in them. He has an example of each of the three groups (High, Medium, Low), includign a brief description and sample application. He mentions mentions frying in the High Starch content group, specifically Russets. He then has another episode simply about frying, where he actually talks about French Fries and again mentions the Russet (High Starch).

While you can make fries out of different types of potatoes (some of the more "all purpose" potatoes), if you want a really good classic french fry, you're going to want to look for a Russet, with a similar starch content.

Here's a page that lists some of the more common varieties. Maybe you can look to see what you bought? The age will probably affect it. A younger potato will in fact be sweeter

So, to answer your specific questions. I'm betting you did in fact buy a potato. It's probably just a sweeter variety. If it doesn't say at the market where you bought it what kind they are, I'd ask the people who work there. Also, look at the third link I have above, it does have a few pictures as well as good descriptions on what they look like.

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I guess these potatoes you are talking about are the ones suitable for boiling.

One good practice in my country is to check the potato's shell, if it was very thin they won't be good for fries, it has to be a little thick. (not too thick or dried)

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