What Is An Heirloom Potato? (3 Things To Know & 15 Varieties)


Fresh potatoes from the garden are the best, and it’s fun to see how big you can grow them. Sometimes you will come across heirloom varieties, which may have interesting colors or shapes.

So, what is an heirloom potato? An heirloom potato is a variety that is at least 50 to 100 years old. Heirloom potato varieties include Atlantic, Burbank Russet, Canela Russet, French Fingerling, German Butterball, Kennebec, Nicola, Purple Majesty, Red LaSoda, Red Viola, Russian Banana, Sangre, Umatilla Russet, Viking, and Yellow Finn.

Some heirloom potato varieties came from outside the U.S., while others were developed by U.S. Universities at least half a century ago.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some heirloom potato varieties and what they look like.

Let’s get started.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

What Is An Heirloom Potato?

An heirloom potato is a variety that is at least 50 to 100 years old. Newer hybrid varieties may only be a few years old, and they do not count as heirloom potatoes.

potatoes
An heirloom potato variety is generally at least 50 to 100 years old. Many have interesting colors or shapes.

(You can learn more about organic and heirloom seeds here).

Many heirloom potatoes in the U.S. made their way here from other countries, such as Finland, France, Germany, or Russia. Others were developed right here in the U.S., and some by state universities (sometimes for disease resistance to help out farmers, and other times for different purposes).

Either way, heirloom potatoes vary quite a bit in their size, shape, color, origin, flavor, and so on. They also vary in how long they take to grow.

Some heirloom potatoes only take 80 days or less to mature, while others can take 130 days or more to mature.

Are Russet Potatoes Heirloom?

Some russet potatoes are heirloom potatoes, including Burbank Russet, Canela Russet, and Umatilla Russet. You can learn more about these types of heirloom potatoes later in this article.

russet potatoes
Some russet potatoes are heirloom varieties. It all depends how long the variety has been in existence.

15 Heirloom Potato Varieties

There are lots of heirloom potato varieties – some come from Germany or Finland, while others were developed by Universities in the U.S. and have stood the test of time.

Some are early or mid-season varieties, while others are late-season varieties, taking up to 130 days or more to fully mature.

In any case, here are 15 heirloom potato varieties of all shapes, sizes, and colors that you might like to try:

  • Atlantic
  • Burbank Russet
  • Canela Russet
  • French Fingerling
  • German Butterball
  • Kennebec
  • Nicola
  • Purple Majesty
  • Red LaSoda
  • Red Viola
  • Russian Banana
  • Sangre
  • Umatilla Russet
  • Viking
  • Yellow Finn

You can learn more about these heirloom potato varieties (and where to get heirloom potato seeds) below.

Atlantic Potato

This mid-season heirloom potato variety has tan to brown skin with creamy, white flesh that makes it ideal for making potato chips or for processing. Atlantic was developed by the USDA at Beltsville, Maryland.

Atlantic Potato
Atlantic Potatoes have tan to brown skin and creamy white flesh. Developed in Maryland, they take 100 to 110 days to mature. Image courtesy of: Breslin S, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atlantic_potato_SASA.jpg

It matures 100 to 110 days after planting. Atlantic Potato tolerates Pink Eye, but is susceptible to late blight, early blight, black leg, and leaf roll, among other diseases.

You can find Atlantic potatoes from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Burbank Russet

This thick-skinned heirloom potato variety has tan to brown skin with dry, white flesh that makes it ideal for baking, frying, or mashing.

(You can find a recipe for twice baked mashed potatoes here.)

It takes 120 days to mature, but it’s worth the wait, which is probably why it is one of the most popular in the U.S.

Russet Burbank potato
Burbank Russet potatoes have thick brown skin and dry, white flesh. It takes 120 days to mature.

Often called the Idaho Baking Potato, the tubers are large and oblong, storing well in the long term, even during the winter.

You can find Burbank Russet potatoes from Gurney’s.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

Canela Russet

This late season heirloom potato variety has tan to brown skin with bright white flesh. It is good for fries or baked potatoes.

Canela Russet is high-yielding and stores well. The tubers can grow up to 2 pounds, and harvest is 100 to 130 days after planting.

You can find Canela Russet potatoes from Gurney’s.

French Fingerling

This small heirloom potato variety has tender, rosy pink skin with yellow flesh with red streaks. The tubers are 3 to 4 inches long – a bit larger than Russian Banana potatoes.

French Fingerling was first imported from France in the 1950’s. It is high-yielding and stores well. The late season tubers are ready to harvest 95 to 125 days after planting.

You can find French Fingerling potatoes from Renee’s Garden.

German Butterball

This potato has light brown or yellow skin and yellow flesh. True to its name, the flesh is buttery and smooth, yet dry – perfect for roasting or frying in the winter.

This variety boasts high yields and it stores well. It has resistance to scab, but is susceptible to Rhizoctonia.

You can find German Butterball potatoes from Fedco Seeds.

Kennebec

This potato variety is quite productive, with thin tan skin and smooth white flesh. It is good for frying, baking, or boiling. One downside is their thin skin, which  makes them bruise easily.

Kennebec potatoes
Kennebec potatoes are productive, and their tubers have thin tan skin with smooth white flesh. It also resists late blight.

Kennebec boasts high yields and disease resistance (including late blight). It matures in 80 to 100 days.

You can find Kennebec potatoes from Renee’s Garden.

Nicola

This German early season heirloom potato variety was developed in the 1960s. It has tender tan to brown skin with waxy, yellow flesh, an oval shape.

Nicola’s nutty flavor that makes it good for both new potatoes or regular potatoes. It has resistance to both scab and drought.

You can find Nicola potatoes from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Purple Majesty

This mid-season heirloom potato is a show-stopper with deep purple skin and purple flesh. The flavor is better than other blue potato varieties.

They stay purple when cooked, due to the high levels of antioxidants, which are good for your health. Purple Majesty matures 85 to 95 days after planting.

You can find Purple Majesty potatoes from Renee’s Garden.

Red LaSoda

This main crop heirloom potato variety has rosy pink skin with waxy white flesh. It is good for boiling, baking, or frying.

Red LaSoda is adapted to many soil types and climate conditions. It is a good choice for gardeners in the Southern U.S..

It withstands cold, heat, and drought, and it also stores well. Harvest is 80 to 100 days after planting.

You can find Red LaSoda potatoes from Gurney’s.

Red Viola

This mid-season heirloom potato variety has red skin with white flesh and a round shape. It offers high yields and it is easy to grow.

Red Viola is good for baking and boiling. You can find Red Viola potatoes from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Russian Banana

This heirloom potato has tan skin and moist, buttery, yellow flesh. The tubers are small and oblong, perfect for boiling, baking, or roasting.

Russian Banana Fingerling potatoes
Russian Banana potatoes are a small fingerling type with tan skin and moist, buttery flesh.

It is easy to grow, stores well, and has high resistance to scab. It was first grown by Russians who settled in the U.S.

You can find Russian Banana Fingering potatoes from High Mowing Seeds.

Sangre

This mid-season heirloom potato variety has red skin with creamy white flesh and a round shape. It was released by Colorado State University in 1982.

The plants are slow to emerge above ground, but once they do, they grow fast. Sangre is good for digging early potatoes.

You can find Sangre potatoes from Renee’s Garden.

Umatilla Russet

This mid/late season heirloom potato variety has tan skin with creamy yellowish-white flesh and an oblong shape. It has a good flavor and it is excellent for making French fries.

Umatilla is disease resistant. You can find Umatilla Russet potatoes from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Viking

This early season heirloom potato variety has dark purple skin with pink flashes with creamy white flesh and a round shape. It was released by North Dakota State University.

Viking has good scab resistance, and the tubers store well.

You can find Viking potatoes from Renee’s Garden.

Yellow Finn

This mid/late season heirloom potato variety has yellow skin with yellow flesh and a round to oblong shape with a sweet, rich flavor. It was brought from Finland in the 1950s.

Yellow Finn tubers are often harvested early as new potatoes. It also resists scab.

You can find Yellow Finn potatoes from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes Cover

The Complete Guide To Growing Potatoes


A complete reference and an ultimate guide that teaches you everything you need to know about potato selection, planting, care, harvest, and storage.

Conclusion

Now you know some heirloom potato varieties. You also know how to get a better harvest once you have chosen the type of potato to grow.

You can learn about which potatoes keep the longest here.

You can get an idea of how many potatoes to expect per plant here.

You can learn how to store potatoes here.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

To find gardening books, courses, and more, check out The Shop at Greenupside!

Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

Recent Posts