Potatoes

Potatoes get a bad rap in today’s nutritional press.  Far from the flavorless packages of starch devoid of all nutrient value, they instead come in a wide variety of flavors and colors, and pack a great deal of vitamins C and B6, thiamin, and folate; a good supply of important minerals, including potassium  manganese,  magnesium, and phosphorus; a surprising amount of protein and almost no fat (and most of what there is being polyunsaturated, with a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids).  Contrary to their reputation, potatoes actually beat most other “healthy” foods when it comes to the amount of nutrition per calorie.

We love the different flavors, colors, and textures potatoes can provide, and grow a lot of rare, gourmet varieties.  Rather than only producing one huge crop of fall potatoes to store through the winter, we have fresh, much tastier and much more nutritious, potatoes harvested throughout the summer and fall.  There is usually overlap, so we usually have several varieties of potato available at the market and in CSA shares at a time.  The following list is roughly in the order that they become available.

Early Potatoes

Red Gold New Potatoes

We begin our season with freshly-dug little new potatoes.  New potatoes aren’t allowed to grow to maturity, but are rather harvested young and tender.  Because they haven’t matured and been cured for storage, they have little shelf life and should be eaten as quickly as possible after harvest.

Rather than “rob” potatoes early in the season for new potatoes, we grow a row of Red Gold specifically for new potatoes.  These are small to medium red-skinned potatoes with yellow flesh that is semi-moist.  Great prepared in a variety of ways, including steamed, boiled, baked, fried, mashed, roasted, or scalloped.  However, it is so flavorful, we prefer simple preparations, such as slicing thin and roasting with a touch of butter, some black pepper, and an herb such as marjoram.

Dark Red Norland

Our second-to-harvest variety (or, first to harvest at the mature stage), Dark Red Norland is a medium sized potato that has smooth red skin and white flesh.  Great boiled or in potato salad.  Unlike most red potatoes, it fries well.  We usually harvest a few weeks’ worth of Dark Red Norland for new potatoes as well, and they work quite well for roasted new potatoes.

Purple Viking

Purple skin with pink splashes, can be almost iridescent at times.  White, sweet flavored flesh.  Fairly large, a good keeper, and a unique flavor that folks fall in love with regardless of their mode of preparation.  Great mashed, but also good baked, boiled, or in salads.  We like to saute them with onions and chives. They supposedly become even sweeter and more flavorful in storage, but we tend to eat them too quickly to verify that claim.

Red Thumb Fingerling

A fingerling potato, shaped (and sized)  like a thumb.  Cut it in half long-ways, and you’ll see the flesh looks like a red thumb surrounded by a white halo, in turn surrounded by bright  red skin.

The first fingerling of the year to be ready, beautiful and delicious, sought after by gourmet chefs and foodies alike.

Yukon Gold

Tasty, buttery flavored baker, the classic potato, and the most popular organic potato.  Smooth, thin yellow skin, yellow flesh, and long storage life.  If you’ve had really great mashed potatoes with a golden color at a restaurant, they were probably made with Yukon Golds.

Everyone grows these, so we haven’t grown them before.  But we’ve had many customers asking for them by name, so in 2013 we’ll give them a shot!

Mid-Season Potatoes

Yellow Finn

We first grew Yellow Finn in the disastrous drought year of 2012, expecting them to be a small round potato that would provide a nice contrast to our fingerlings.  Instead, it turned out to be about the only potato variety that produced well!

“Little yellow balls of buttery goodness” would be the best description.  A fairly moist and sweet flesh that makes good mashed potatoes, but doesn’t hold up well in soup or braising applications.  Good fried potatoes as well, great for hash browns.  We’ve been told they make the best gnocchi, but haven’t tried that yet…

Rose Finn Apple Fingerling

A pink-skinned, knobby, knuckled fingerling potato that is quite waxy.  Great for soups and salads where you want to the potatoes to hold their shape.  Also great roasted, particularly with other fingerlings, where their odd shapes and color, as well as different texture, can provide a nice contrast.

Interestingly, they also work well as a soup or sauce thickener.  Boil, then puree.  Add the the puree to make a watery soup thick and rich.

Desiree

Our farrier calls these “fuzzy potatoes,” and we bartered many of these away to her!  Silky rose pink skin with yellow, creamy flesh, with a unique, but delicate flavor and texture when cooked.  Very versatile, excellent results however you choose to cook them.

Kenebec

Our favorite choice for making potato soup, by a large margin.  One of the best french fry choices as well.  Rugged, buff skin, fleshy, delicious white flesh.  Exceptionally good storage potato.  Also great boiled and mashed, and known to be great for baked potato bar night.

Late-Season Potatoes

Icon of Slow Food USAOzette Fingerling

An Ark of Taste member, the Ozette is as interesting as a story as it is a food.  And it’s very interesting as a food!  Most potatoes on North American plates began in Peru, and were brought to Europe by the conquistadors.  They were then brought back to the Americas via European settlers.

By contrast, genetic testing confirms the Ozette traveled from South America to the Pacific NorthWest via Spanish missionaries.  The missionaries had to abandon their mission when the Spanish left, and the Ozette potato was believed to be lost.  However, the Makah Indians discovered them in an abandoned garden, and began growing them for themselves, naming them after one of their villages.

In the 1980s, David Ronniger found them an introduced them back into the seed trade.  Still quite rare, they are mostly grown in home gardens, where they are loved for their slightly earthy, nutty flavor.  Gold skinned with pale cream colored flesh, classic fingerling shape, best when steamed or sauteed.

La Ratte Fingerling

A French heirloom fingerling potato favored by gourmet chefs.  A bit of a chameleon in texture – it maintains a firm texture when it’s cooked, but if you mash or puree it, it becomes smooth and creamy.  Yellow skin and flesh, with a rich, chestnut-y flavor.  Great when prepared together with Purple Peruvians, making a wonderfully flavored, and visually interesting, dish.

Purple Peruvian Fingerling

Chad’s favorite anything that we grow!  Small purple skinned, purple fleshed  fingerling potatoes that can be hard to distinguish from rocks and dirt at harvest time, become mealy, meaty-tasting bits of bliss when roasted, and make great purple fries!   Like most purple foods, very high in antioxidants.

Carola

A unique storage potato, in that it has the flavor and moisture of a new potato, even after months in storage.  Great boiled, bashed, mashed, and hashed, and renowned for scalloped potatoes.  Smooth yellow skin and yellow flesh.

German Butterball

We grew German Butterball in 2010, with miserable results.  It seemed to be a magnet to the Colorado Potato Beetle, and suffered far more than other varieties.  We ended up with stunted little spuds that were crinkly and poor flavored.

Nonetheless, it continues to win taste tests all over the place, as people rave over its buttery flavor and texture, great roasted or baked, and just dry enough to fry or hash.  Combine that with reported large yields and good storage ability, and we decided to give it another shot in 2013.