BDN interviews Porter, Camire about variety in potatoes

The Bangor Daily News interviewed University of Maine faculty members Greg Porter, a professor of agronomy, and Mary Camire, a professor of food science and human nutrition, for the article, “The science behind why one potato is good for mashing and another is better for soups.” “A lot of things affect the flavor of individual potato varieties,” Porter said. “Climate, temperatures, moisture and day length all affect the physiology of the plant and the type of materials that end up in the tuber, but the most important factor in taste is variety.” The amounts of sugars and starches in a potato influence the unique flavor and texture of each variety, the article states. “Potatoes that are low in moisture but with high sugar and starch contents like russets or Yukon Golds are better baked, mashed, fried or roasted. More waxy potatoes like round reds have a higher moisture content but less starch and will hold their shape better when cooked, so work better in salads or soups,” Camire said. And at the cellular level, phenolic compounds primarily found in a potato’s skin also influence its flavor, as well as protect the potato from some pests, according to the BDN. This growing season began cool and dry before switching to a long, hot stretch followed by rain. “That combination probably resulted in delayed tuber growth and the development of more sugars,” Porter said. “There are a high number of phenolic compounds in the potatoes [and] they are affected by the conditions, [and] if people are saying potatoes taste different this year from last year, that could by why.” Fiddlehead Focus published an excerpt of the BDN article.