Baked potatoes

Best potatoes for baking

A BBC Gardeners' World Magazine trial tested 10 varieties to find the best jacket potato – find out how they ranked for yield and taste.

Which variety of potato makes the best jacket potatoes? BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine recently decided to find out, by running a trial. After consulting breeders, growers, suppliers and chefs, 10 varieties of potato were grown, including old favourite ‘King Edward’ and the blight-resistant ‘Sarpo Mira’.

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Discover how to grow great jacket potatoes.

Five tubers of each variety were planted in mid-April. They were earthed up regularly and received a thorough twice-weekly watering during dry periods.

One of the challenges of growing potatoes is potato blight. Despite preventative spraying with Bordeaux mixture, plants were infected in late summer. First to succumb were ‘Estima’ and ‘King Edward’, followed by all except ‘Sarpo Mira’ and ‘Carolus’.

The potatoes were assessed for yield and the number of potatoes that grew to ‘jacket’ size. Colleagues at BBC Good Food Magazine then cooked them and assessed them for texture and taste.

Here the results, ranked in order – the best first.

'Vivaldi' was the overall winner and the outstanding favourite with taste testers.

1 – ‘Vivaldi’

‘Vivaldi’ was the overall winner and the outstanding favourite with taste testers. It has a great flavour, creamy texture and delicious skin. An excellent garden performer, too, producing a heavy crop of large, evenly shaped tubers. 

Type: second early
Yield from five tubers: 5.7kg (17 jacket-size)
Taste: 10/10

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2 – ‘Sante’

Second in terms of taste, but by far the best overall yield, which included a high proportion of large, well-shaped tubers. Described by our tasters as having a good flavour and good skin, but the texture wasn’t as fluffy as ‘Vivaldi’.

Type: maincrop
Yield from five tubers: 8kg (16 jacket-size)
T

aste:
8/10

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3 – ‘Sarpo Mira’

‘Sarpo’ varieties have been bred by the Savari Trust for blight resistance, and this one certainly performed well. Heavy cropping, although slightly irregularly shaped with a small amount of scab. It was described as middling for taste – it had a decent flavour, but a poor texture.

Type: maincrop
Yield: 6kg (15 jacket-size)
Taste: 6/10

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4 – ‘Innovator’

A new variety with rough, ‘russet’ skin; attractive in appearance and high-yielding, with a substantial proportion of good-sized and well-shaped tubers. However it was a low scorer on taste, it was also deemed too waxy and not fluffy enough.

Type: second early
Yield: 5.9kg (18 jacket-size)
Taste: 4/10

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5 – Carolus

A new variety from 2015, this showed outstanding blight resistance with healthy growth throughout. The pink-eyed tubers looked very attractive, although a bit irregular in shape, but ranked low for taste thanks to their waxy, dense texture.

Type: maincrop
Yield: 5.4kg (11 jacket-size)
Taste: 4/10

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6 – ‘Melody’

Rated third for taste, with very good flavour, although not that floury in texture. The overall yield was reasonable with evenly shaped tubers, but while these were produced in quantity, relatively few were big enough for baking.

Type: second early
Yield: 5kg (8 jacket-size)
Taste: 7/10

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7 – ‘Marfona’

While our tasters thought this variety was bland and the skin not crispy, and the yield was lower than the majority, it produced a very high proportion of tubers that were jacket-sized, smooth and evenly shaped.

Type: second early
Yield: 4.4kg (16 jacket-size)
Taste: 4/10

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8 – ‘Estima’

One of the first to succumb to blight, so some of the tubers had to be discarded – hence the low yield. But our tasters liked the flavour, which resembled that of a creamy, new potato.

Type: second early
Yield: 3.4kg (8 jacket-size)
Taste: 5/10

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9 – ‘King Edward’

An old favourite with gardeners and good looking with red ‘eyes’, but a disappointing harvest in terms of weight and size – none of the potatoes were really good enough for baking. It was susceptible to blight and also had some slug damage. It was middle-ranked for taste and texture.

Type: maincrop
Yield: 4kg (none jacket-size)
Taste: 6/10

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10 – ‘Isle of Jura’

A poor performer on most counts, with the low yield partly due to it being a favourite with the slugs – some tubers had to be discarded due to damage. Bland and flavourless, but reasonable in texture.

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Type: maincrop
Yield: 3kg (6 jacket-size)
Taste: 5/10

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Cook the best jacket potato

Dry well after washing, then pierce the skins. Rub with olive oil and salt and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes and two hours at a temperature of 190°C.