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'Spunta' potato

Paul West’s favourite spuds

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Spuds are one of the most productive crops you can grow, so with a little bit of judicious planting in late winter and early spring, you can experience the full breadth that is the wonderful world of potatoes, writes Paul West

It can be hard to choose what heirloom varieties of potatoes to plant, but a good starting point is what you want to use them for in the kitchen. Different varieties are suited for different uses and can be broken up into three rough categories:

  • Starchy: High in starch, low in moisture and floury in texture. The ultimate spud for roasting or making chips.
  • Waxy: Less starch, higher moisture and sugar than starchy varieties. They hold their shape really well and are perfect for salads and things such as soups and stews
  • All-rounders: These are the jack of all trades. They hold together better than starchy potatoes when boiled and have a fluffier texture than waxy potatoes when roasted.

These are the all rounders of choice in my kitchen:

‘Spunta’ (pictured above)

‘Spunta’ originated in the Netherlands in the 1960s and has since been widely adopted around the world – it’s even one of the most popular potatoes in Italy. The tuber is large and long, with some growing up to 500g! The skin is pale yellow/white, smooth and has few eyes, making it very easy to peel. In the garden, it produces prolifically and can be harvested early as new potatoes or left in the ground to swell. In the kitchen, the large oblong tubers are perfect for cutting up into chips and frying, but is well-suited to roasting, mashing and salads. 

‘Royal Blue’

Another spud with Dutch roots, this striking potato has dusky purple/blue skin and creamy, yellow flesh. The tuber is oval and appears to be flattened on the broad sides. The flavour is slightly sweet and nutty and is very versatile in the kitchen – great for roasting, chips, mash and salads.

‘Otway Red’

Developed by the Bone family in the Otway Ranges of Victoria, ‘Otway Red’ is a popular Australian variety. It’s oval, with smooth, dark-red skin, and white, creamy flesh. In the patch, these spuds are high-yielding. Their thick skin makes them a great storage potato. It has an excellent earthy flavour and suits all preparations.


Another stunning purple potato, ‘Sapphire’ is a gem of a spud both in the kitchen and the garden. It’s a medium-sized, oval-shaped tuber with marbled purple/white flesh, including a distinctive white margin just under the skin. In the garden, ‘Sapphire’ is reasonably hardy, able to withstand short periods of drought and growing well in colder climates. In the kitchen, it has a more balanced starch content than waxy ‘Purple Congo’, making it a more versatile choice. Colour is maintained during cooking. It can turn a little greyish when just cooked, but returns to purple as it cools.

Paul West’s article with his favourite spuds and tips for growing first appeared in our Winter 2022 issue (OG 134). There’s a selection of back issues available here — you can also subscribe and get the most recent issues delivered to your door!

OG 134 Cover