Purple potatoes are a type of potato that are incredibly high in anthocyanin and great for incorporating into your diet. In this detailed guide, we’re breaking down why they’re so healthy, and different types of purple potatoes to try!
Why are Purple Potatoes Purple?
Like other purple and blue fruits and vegetables, purple potatoes get their distinct color because they contain anthocyanins. These are the compounds that give them their unique and aesthetic purple hue, but it isn’t just a pigment!
Anthocyanins are nutritious antioxidants that give purple and blue potatoes a nutritional boost over their yellow and white cousins.
What do purple potatoes taste like?
Purple potatoes tend to have a slightly nuttier and earthier flavor compared to the more neutral taste of white potatoes.
In terms of texture, there can be subtle differences between purple and white potatoes, but it often depends on the specific variety rather than the color itself. Generally, both types of potatoes have a starchy texture, but some purple potato varieties might have a denser and waxier texture compared to certain types of white potatoes.
The Incas revered the purple potato among all varieties, and used them in ceremonies to worship one of their gods. Any idea who she was and what she was goddess for? Answer at the end of this post!
Purple Potato Health Benefits
Purple potatoes aren’t just a feast for the eyes with their vibrant color – they’re also packed with health benefits. These spuds are rich in antioxidant activity, particularly anthocyanins, which give them their distinctive hue and offer potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Plus, they’re a great source of vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B6, along with minerals like potassium and fiber.
The antioxidants in purple potatoes can help support heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease, regulating blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. With their unique taste and nutritional punch, incorporating these colorful tubers into your meals can be a delicious way to boost your health.
Origin of Purple Potatoes
Purple potatoes, originating in the Andean region of South America, have a history dating back over 7,000 years in Peru and Bolivia.
Initially prized for their taste and nutrition, Spanish conquistadors introduced these potatoes to Europe in the 16th century, despite initial resistance. Eventually, they became a crucial crop across Europe.
Later, brought to North America by European settlers, potatoes, including the purple varieties, became a staple crop, adapting to different climates. Recently, purple potatoes have surged in popularity due to their distinct look and health advantages.
Varieties of Purple Potatoes
There are over 5,000 potato varieties worldwide, and something like 100 varieties of purple and blue Potatoes. We will cover five of the most common, popular, and importantly available purple potatoes and purple sweet potatoes.
ALL BLUE POTATOES
All Blue Potatoes are, as their name suggests, blue inside and out. They are an all-purpose potato but lean toward the starchy side and are thus recognized as good for baking, and if you want to be sure to keep their unique color boil or bake them. The advantage to boiling is the water will turn blue and have be usable as a mild dye for Easter eggs or cloth.
PURPLE MAJESTY POTATOES
Purple majesty potatoes have wonderfully dark purple skin and flesh. They are considered an All-purpose potato, so use these in any recipe that you want to leverage that wonderful color. They were developed at Colorado State University not just to be stunning, but multi-use like the best all-purpose potatoes. The drawback to these spuds is that they are known to not last as long stored in your pantry as others, so keep an eye on them.
PURPLE PERUVIAN POTATOES
These are a starchy fingerling variety. They have a purple skin and blue to purple flesh with the customary slim fingerling potato shape. Most fingerlings are waxy spuds, but not the Peruvian purples which are great mashed, baked, fried, or in chips. Use these when you want a starchy potato (baked, mashed, fried), but also want a unique blue presentation.
STOKES PURPLE SWEET POTATO
The Stokes Purple is a sweet potato with brown-purple skin and purple flesh. They were developed in Stokes County NC thus their name. The Stokes is not as sweet as most orange fleshed sweet potatoes, but is an all-purpose moderately starchy and moist variety. They are good roasted, steamed, or baked and of course their purple color is unusual for a sweet potato. If you want to leverage the purple flesh for an unusual and decadent treat, use them in this Sweet Potato Smoothie recipe.
The Vitelotte is a very old waxy potato brought to Europe from Peru hundreds of years ago. They are cultivated mostly in France and the United Kingdom, but you can find them at specialty markets in the USA. They are small potatoes with a dark purple skin and flesh. They maintain their color when cooked making them good for uses in which you want to showcase their color.
How to Cook Purple Potatoes
The primary thing to keep in mind is that you can cook purple or blue potatoes in all the same ways you cook white or yellow potatoes. The key is how to cook them to best show off their delightful color! Before we look at cooking methods it is important to review the three types of potatoes. Starchy and waxy potatoes have different super powers, and it is important to use the right type for your recipe.
- Starchy Potatoes: Having more starch, they tend to be dry, fluffy, and absorbent (hello butter!) These are the best option for baking, frying, and french fries. The dry flesh makes them crumble easily and thus ideal as baked potatoes. The starch also absorbs oil making them great for frying. They are best for french fries because the interior of the fries stays fluffy during cooking while the exterior becomes crispy.
- Waxy Potatoes: These have very little starch and a moist flesh. Waxy potatoes generally have a thinner skin, hold their shape well, and don’t crumble when cooked like their starchy cousins. They are the best bet for use in soups, salads, casseroles, and layered dishes like scalloped potatoes.
- All Purpose Potatoes: These fall somewhere between starch and waxy.
Purple Potato Recipes
If you are looking for purple potato recipes, you generally have to search no further than your favorite recipes for white potatoes. They’re often cooked until tender, seasoned with salt, and served as a side dish. Here are some suggestions:
Baked Purple Potatoes: This is a great option for the starchy potato varieties. When you cut them open the purple hue will remain largely intact and make a wonderful contrast with sour cream
Purple Potatoes Roasted in the Air Fryer. This is a great way to roast purple potatoes. They will really show off their color if coined or cubed with a light coating of olive oil and roasted in the air fryer. It is also much faster than roasting them in the oven
Purple Potato Wedges: Just follow our Oven baked potato wedges recipe for uniquely colored potato wedges. These are a great option for an Independence Day cookout served with red catchup and white ranch dressing to dip them in.
Mashed Purple Potatoes: Use them like you would any other potato, but some of your guests may not think the purple hue is as charming in such a culinary icon such as mashed potatoes. Kids will love them!
Purple Sweet Potato Noodles: Okay, work with us here, but Sweet Potatoes can be used as a delicious and super healthy faux pasta in this Sweet Potato Fettuccine recipe. They are much healthier than conventional pasta with about half the calories and a lot more nutrients.
Purple Potato Fries: Use either purple potatoes or purple sweet potatoes for baked sweet potato fries.
Casseroles: You can use waxy purple potatoes in pretty much any recipe calling for yellow or white potatoes, and there is no reason you can’t use purple sweet potatoes in your traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole, well except for the grumbling from Uncle George.
The Incas used purple potatoes in worship of Axomamma, the goddess of potatoes. Yep, potatoes were so important to the Incas they had a whole goddess for them.
This concludes deep dive into purple potatoes and purple sweet potatoes. We hope you found information you can use here, and as always happy cooking!