Foil-wrapped potatoes are most popular for foodservice, he says.
However, the Idaho Potato Commission encourages foodservice operators not to bake potatoes in foil because it traps the water in the potato and turns it soft and mushy, says Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice.
“People think it cooks faster (in foil), but we did a study five or six years ago that shows the foil has to heat before the potato will bake. You lose about 10 minutes. Once the foil heats, it closes the gap, but it still takes longer,” he says.
He recognizes that some operators use foil to keep the potato hot. In that case, he suggests foil-wrapping the potato after baking it.
Idaho, the leading potato-producing state, is popular for its russet (burbank and norkotah) varieties with the optimum 21% ratio of starch or solids to water. “It’s the magic number. At 21% you get a dry and fluffy (baked potato). At 18% or 19%, it’s waxier like red or yukon gold. If you go over 21%, the potato may be too dry and fall or break apart so it’s not well-suited to french fries,” he says.
The russet’s starch-to-water ratio keeps mashed potatoes from becoming gummy, Odiorne says.
The commission offers an Idaho potato how-to kit, which gives menu ideas and preparation tips for fries, mashed, baked (including twice baked), hash brown and scalloped potatoes.