Red potatoes: varieties, cultivation & uses

Regina
Regina
Regina
Regina

I studied horticultural sciences at university and in my free time you can find me in my own patch of land, growing anything with roots. I am particularly passionate about self-sufficiency and seasonal food.

Favourite fruit: quince, cornelian cherry and blueberries
Favourite vegetables: peas, tomatoes and garlic

Red potatoes can add a splash of colour to the garden and dinner table. Here is a breakdown of the most beautiful red potato varieties, as well as some tips on cultivating and harvesting these wonderful, colourful tubers!

Harvested ripe red skin potatoes
Red potato varieties bring variety to your garden and to your plate [Photo: Leon P/ Shutterstock.com]

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are increasingly popular amongst hobby gardeners, and red-skinned varieties in particular are sparking a lot of enthusiasm. Red skin potatoes come in many shapes and shades, and new cultivars are competing with the traditional, yellow tubers. Here is everything you need to know about the 10 most beautiful red potato varieties!

The best red potato varieties

Red potato varieties can be split into two categories: those with red skin and those with red skin and red flesh.

‘Ciclamen’: Hungarian potato variety with beautiful red skin and white flesh. Oval-round and waxy to floury, Ciclamen is ideal for dumplings, mash or soup.

‘Desiree’: Waxy, red-skinned potato from the Netherlands, with light yellow flesh. Desiree is an early maincrop variety and has a fruity, juicy flavour that is best served boiled or baked.

‘Franceline’: French, waxy variety developed in 1993 with an elongated body, red-skin and light yellow, aromatic flesh. An early maincrop variety, Franceline is perfect as a roast and jacket potato, or used in gratin.

‘Heiderot’: Long, oval shaped, red-fleshed potato with an aromatic, slightly buttery taste. The skin and flesh of this waxy tuber is deep red to magenta. Heiderot is an ideal roast potato or jacket potato, and creates a colourful potato salad.

‘Laura’: Popular German variety that produces long, oval tubers with red skin and yellow flesh. This variety is an early maincrop, and makes for delicious wedges. Laura is also great boiled or baked.

Desiree red skin potatoes harvest
The red-skinned potato variety ‘Desiree’ has a juicy, fruity flavour [Photo: Thinglass/ Shutterstock.com]

‘Nemo’: Red and yellow patterned, Dutch variety with bold, yellow flesh. These long, oval, floury tubers have a mild, fruity flavour that is perfect mashed or roasted.

‘Red Emmalie’: Waxy, elongated potato with magenta skin and flesh. Red Emmalie’s tangy taste is perfect served as pink gnocchi.

‘Red Duke of York’: Round-oval potato with striking red skin. The waxy, yellow flesh of the Red duke of York is perfect boiled or mashed.

‘Rosara’: Early potato variety with red skin and waxy, yellow flesh. Rosara can taste creamy and delicate, or aromatic and tangy.

‘Rosemarie’: Developed in 2012, this waxy tuber is pink throughout. It has a long, oval shape and ripens early to mid-early. Rosemarie’s creamy taste is best enjoyed in gratin or a potato salad.

Tip: To add even more colour to your veggie patch, have a look at the best varieties of purple potatoes!

Cut open red skin and flesh of emmalie potato
The red-fleshed ‘Red Emmalie’ is a versatile variety that ripens mid-early [Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/ Shutterstock.com]

Planting and care

To cultivate red potatoes, do as you would for any other potato. That means: chitting (pre-sprouting) the potatoes indoors on a sunny windowsill at around 15°C for four weeks; and then planting the sprouts outside between the end of March and the beginning of May, when the soil has warmed to 8 to 10°C. By chitting the potatoes, you shorten the growing period and bring the harvest forward. This is particularly worthwhile for late-ripening potatoes, who might otherwise suffer from late blight.

Tip: Alternatively, grow your potatoes in pots on your patio, balcony or terrace. A high-quality, nutrient-rich potting soil works best for cultivating nutritious tubers.

Harvesting and cooking red potatoes

Depending on the variety, when you planted it and the weather conditions, you will have to harvest your red potato crop sometime between July and October, before the first frost. For late potato varieties, wait until their foliage has died and tipped over. This will allow the tubers and their skin to ripen properly, and ensure they store well. For early varieties, it is best not to wait this long. Our article on harvesting potatoes describes what you should look out for when harvesting potatoes.

In general, red potatoes can be cooked in the same way as any other potato. They need no special treatment or even peeling – unless inedible green spots are visible on the skin!

Digging up ripe red skinned potatoes
Depending on the ripening period, red potatoes can be harvested as early as July [Photo: Jean Faucett/ Shutterstock.com]

There are a wide range of potato varieties, each with different colours, shapes and characteristics. Why not see what you like!

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