Baked potato skins: Who eats them?
October 9, 2011 9:42 PM   Subscribe

baked potato skins: The Brits, by and large, eat them. The Italians and French (in my experience) do not. What about Germany, Russia? South Americans? US? Regional differences? Other parts of the world? Not looking for individual preferences, but country/regional ones.

I have a bet: One of us says more people eat them than don't. This mefi will define the answer.
posted by fatmouse to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you mean: taking the skins and putting cheese/bacon/whatever on them and baking them again? Or do you mean: baking a potato, eating the insides and then also consuming the skin?
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:53 PM on October 9, 2011

Oh. Forgot to add, in my experience it's totally normal to do both these things, but there are people who eat baked potatoes and don't eat the skins, and that seems to be personal preference. (US, Texas)
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:54 PM on October 9, 2011

In Canada we used to order 'potato skins' (which were baked and filled with things and delicious!). But fiercecupcake has a point, with a plain whole baked was an individual call.
posted by bquarters at 9:59 PM on October 9, 2011

Russia has a chain store called Kroshka Kartoshka that serves baked potatoes with the skin (add whatever toppings you want). Some people eat the skin, some don't. But it sure is served with the skin.
posted by vidur at 10:00 PM on October 9, 2011

Yeah in the U.S. it's personal preference. I always eat the skins, as to me they're the best part, but I know many people who just eat the potato. But I guess the "default" is with the skin because I've never been to a restaurant in the U.S. where you order a baked potato and they serve it to you without the skin. (US, NY and NC)
posted by katyggls at 10:02 PM on October 9, 2011

I think most people make a judgement call based on how confident they are that the skin was cleaned really well.

Also, in general, french and italian food isn't really about taking whole foods and eating it whole - things are sliced or sauced or peeled to look pretty, etc, and generally there's a lot of emphasis on aesthetics and complexity. Eating the skin on a baked potato seems like it would be more prevalent in cultures that tend to eat simpler foods?
posted by Kololo at 10:06 PM on October 9, 2011

Kololo has it. I only eat potato skins if I've done the cleaning. Otherwise I assume that the only safe part to eat is the scrumptious filling.

US native right hurr.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:07 PM on October 9, 2011

I'm not sure what kind of information you are seeking. Italians do not tend to "bake potatoes" in the US "steak-and-a-baked" sense. More commonly they are sliced into wedges, rubbed in oil and herbs and roasted, often along with other vegetables. But the skins are certainly consumed.
posted by trip and a half at 10:15 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

In the US it seems to be a total mixed bag.
posted by gregoryg at 10:15 PM on October 9, 2011

US here. It's funny, but when it's a baked potato I don't eat the skins. But if it's a potato skin appetizer (skin, little layer of potato, cheese, bacon, sour cream) I eat the thing whole.
posted by sbutler at 10:30 PM on October 9, 2011

I would say on the whole sbutler nailed it: in the US we generally don't eat the skin of a normal baked potato but will happily nosh on appetizers which are just the hollowed-out skins, filled with cheese (and, often, bacon).
posted by Deathalicious at 10:48 PM on October 9, 2011

In New Zealand the norm is to eat the skin. You clean the outside, chuck it into bake, maybe scoop a little of the innards out for butter or cheese, and then stuff the innards back in again, and away you go.

Personally I love cooking them until the skin goes hard and crispy, and then they taste like carb sausages, but I think I'm unusual in that...
posted by rodgerd at 12:03 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Deathalicious: "I would say on the whole sbutler nailed it: in the US we generally don't eat the skin of a normal baked potato but will happily nosh on appetizers which are just the hollowed-out skins, filled with cheese (and, often, bacon)."

I don't think that's true. Most people I know will eat the skin on a regular, plain jane, baked potato. They might put extra butter, salt, or sour cream on it to make it go down easier though.
posted by katyggls at 12:20 AM on October 10, 2011

Response by poster: Fiercecupcake I mean consuming a plain jane baked potato and then eating the skin.

Rodgerd you are not unusual at all.

Thanks all - it seems like a real mixed bag so far.

My judgements on Italians/French are on those friends of mine from there that I've serve regular jacket spuds to and then tutted over them leaving the best bit.
posted by fatmouse at 12:26 AM on October 10, 2011

Yeah, my experience in France (have lived here for 12 years all told) is that they don't eat the skins. Quite a few will chuckle in curiosity and ask (kindly) why I'm eating the skin, while a rarer few may snicker and make "silly American" remarks. Of course, the proper reaction to the latter, rude reaction is to ask them whether they've ever eaten snails, frogs, horse meat or rabbit, then continue to munch on the now-benign potato skin as they puff and grumble.
posted by fraula at 12:41 AM on October 10, 2011

I've been known to make a batch of mashed potatoes using the skins.

Nobody has ever complained.
posted by bardic at 12:41 AM on October 10, 2011

The Spanish just don't do baked potatoes, when I've served them for friends here they were treated as some kind of exotic dish. But then they do have tortilla de patata.
posted by itsjustanalias at 12:41 AM on October 10, 2011

In France, the dish is called Pomme de terre en robe des champs ("potatoes in their field dress"). As the French wiki says, skins may be eaten when the potatoes are from "primeur" varieties that have very thin ones.
posted by elgilito at 1:23 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Dutch, big potato eaters, don't eat skins.
posted by ouke at 1:36 AM on October 10, 2011

I (lifetime New Englander) eat the skins. My wife (born and raised in Brazil) does not.
posted by jozxyqk at 2:35 AM on October 10, 2011

In the UK, most people seem to eat the skins, though it isn't uncommon for someone to say "I don't like them", this seems to be about the taste and/or texture. In France, about 20 years ago, I started to eat the skins from a baked potato and someone across the table shouted at me "spit it out" as if I was about to eat something indigestible or poisonous.
posted by Jabberwocky at 4:15 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Italian here, we don't eat the skins, but we also don't generally make baked potatoes. Roasted potatoes, steamed potatoes, sautéed potatoes, boiled potatoes, yes, baked potatoes, no. I didn't even know you could safely eat potato skins until I moved to the US.
posted by lydhre at 4:50 AM on October 10, 2011

In Poland, called by the Germans "Kartoffelland" for a reason, people don't eat potato skins. OTOH, we seldom eat baked potatoes.
posted by hat_eater at 5:16 AM on October 10, 2011

FWIW, my Nonna was born in Italy and was the one who encouraged me to eat the skin left over from my baked potato, telling me "that's where all the vitamins are". She also left the skins on in her potatoes that she would dice up and make with this YUMMY chicken dish in the oven. YMMV
posted by NoraCharles at 5:32 AM on October 10, 2011

I am surprised (and a little disappointed) to hear that there are entire societies where people think it is proper to not eat the skins. I always understood that they were to be eaten, and that not eating them would mark you as effete and excessively picky.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:37 AM on October 10, 2011

In the UK, when someone talks about eating potato skins they don't mean the stuffed things you can get now in the 'American' section of your local supermarket's ready meal aisle, but literally skins from the baked potato. I LOVE the skins. Crispy and yum.

I don't peel potatoes for mashing or making wedges (I don't make chips at home) either, partly because it tastes nicer and partly because I am absolutely terrible at peeling things without destroying the vegetable or my fingers.
posted by mippy at 5:43 AM on October 10, 2011

Here in the southern US I eat the skins of my baked potatoes, something I learned from my Oklahoma-born mother. This is why it is important to bake potatoes properly so they have nice crisp skins, not the soggy, foil-wrapped abominations you so often see.
posted by TedW at 6:41 AM on October 10, 2011

Growing up in Russia, we never ate the skins, regardless of the recipe. It really weirded me out when we came to American and I noticed people eating potato skins, mainly because it seemed so unsanitary.
posted by griphus at 6:43 AM on October 10, 2011

(NB: I fuckin' love me some potato skins now, though.)
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on October 10, 2011

I'm in the midwestern U.S., and my mother used to always nag me that all the vitamins were in the skin so I'd better eat it! (It's okay, I like the skin.)

It's mostly little kids who don't eat the skin around here, but a lot of people eat the guts first and leave the skin for last and might not finish the whole skin, especially if the potato was very large. That's normal too.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:16 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the OP is talking more generally. For example, in France even fingerlings and teensy lil spuds are peeled. Ditto for Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands. Roasting giant rudders in their jackets is a particular preparation, but here in the states it's pretty rare to peel creamers or fingerlings.
posted by Lisitasan at 7:17 AM on October 10, 2011

Whoops. Roasting giant rudders probably ain't " done" anywhere and I meant to type spuds.
posted by Lisitasan at 7:19 AM on October 10, 2011

The Dutch, big potato eaters, don't eat skins.

I came here to say that in my experience with my Dutch in-laws, mashed potatoes are made with the bits of skin. It could be my mother-in-law uses a more 'nouvelle cuisine' approach, I can't be sure.

In Serbia where I'm from larger potatoes with thicker skin are peeled for consumption. The little new potatoes, though, are fried in their skin and considered a delicacy.
posted by Dragonness at 7:37 AM on October 10, 2011

Eastern seaboard and Southern US, I have seen more people not eat the skin on a regular baked potato, although "skins on" mashed potatoes as sides and "potato skins" as appetizers are both consumed by people who like potatoes. Little potatoes that are roasted always seem to have the skin and I've never seen anyone not eat the skin on those (like new potatoes, finger potatoes, etc).

If you asked me to make a generalization, I'd say Eastern and Southern US more people do not eat the skins.
posted by mrs. taters at 7:47 AM on October 10, 2011

Eastern US individual datapoint -- as far as I'm concerned, TedW has it: if the potato was wrapped in tinfoil, I generally will only eat the skin incidentally, because it is soggy and not delicious. If it was just baked plain in the oven, the skin is the best part, and saved to eat last.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:30 AM on October 10, 2011

In India we generally don't eat the skins of potatoes, though I'm sure it occasionally happens. We don't usually eat baked potatoes either though, as most people don't have ovens. The most common way to eat potatoes is fried or sauteed.
posted by peacheater at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2011

In fact the Indian attitude to potato skins is exemplified by this (hilarious) aloo gobi video (an extra from Bend it Like Beckham).
posted by peacheater at 10:34 AM on October 10, 2011

Blame the microwaved spud for any decline in this, as it leaves an anaemic, wet, papery skin (in technically a steamed potato, I guess).

The crispy skin of an oven-baked potato is, of course, the best bit. I'm not even too bothered about the cleanliness - it has, after all been in a 400 degree oven for an hour.
posted by nicktf at 10:48 AM on October 10, 2011

Southern US: I grew up being told to eat them, that they were good for me. But then mostly not eating them. I still sort of can't be bothered. Though this thread is making me crave a baked potato.

Agree with others who've noted a contrast between a big baked potato and thinner skinned varieties like fingerlings. While I'll typically skip the skin on a baked potato, I prefer my mashed potatoes to be skin-on.
posted by Sara C. at 11:28 AM on October 10, 2011

Back in the late 80s, long before the food truck craze of today I (American) went to high school on an American Air Force base in England. We had "open lunch" and were allowed to roam the base foraging for food. There was always a baked potato truck parked in front of the BX with a guy inside who would sell you a hot, delicious baked potato with your choice of toppings for a couple pounds. Nothing better, in my opinion, than a baked potato stuffed with cheddar (in England it was white and not orange), bacon bits, maybe a little broccoli, and lashings of butter. I ate the whole thing, including the skin. But I grew up eating the skins of my potatoes and they're the best part.

I just made myself hungry.
posted by bendy at 8:46 PM on October 10, 2011

Response by poster: Right thanks everyone. In this totally scientific survey the results are:



Which under the terms of the bet means I lose*.

But surely there's a PhD thesis in this for someone? And I am sure it will find that people who refuse to eat the skin of a delicious crispy baked spud have severe personality and nutritional deficiencies.

*not gracefully
posted by fatmouse at 9:42 PM on October 10, 2011

Wait, wait, wait...add Canada to the Yes's. We eat jacket potatoes here, jackets and all. If someone doesn't, it's a matter of personal preference rather than a culturally Canadian thing. I didn't eat the skins of baked potatoes when I was a child, but started later when my palate refined.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:03 PM on October 10, 2011

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