Monday, August 13, 2012

Seed potatoes

They're here. 

Heaps and heaps of certified seed potatoes. 

Even though they're only spuds, and even though they arrive every year (and involve a fair bit of digging...) I found myself racing down the drive to peer into their hessian sacks, and imagine their potential, when they turned up today.

We've spent a lot of time hunting down unusual seed potatoes, and for the last three years we've grown many different varieties. Some have fallen by the wayside because they don't taste that great or yield well, and many others have been revelations in what the flavour and texture of a potato can be. This year we want to share that pleasure with you.

The ten varieties below have earned their stripes, both in the garden and, most importantly, in the kitchen. Look for them on our stall at Farm Gate Market on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

Cranberry Red: Seriously delicious. Pale pink flesh, creamy texture, large round potatoes.

Sapphire: This one has deep, purple flesh, if you tried and hated Purple Congo, as I did, give this one a try. Lovely, fine textured flesh, great roasted or in salads, or makes an ugly, purple mash that kids adore.
Banana: We love this one! High yielding, with small tubers from 5 to 10cm. Said to have been developed in Russia and introduced to cultivation in North America by Russian fur traders. Seriously delicious with firm, golden flesh. We love to pull these fresh from the ground just before dinner. 
Pink fir Apple: Another fingerling that is a winner in the kitchen. Sweet, white flesh, knobbly shape and pink skin. We eat them steamed, roasted and in salads. French origin. And who doesn't love a potato baby?

Tasman: Australian bred variety, all rounder. We found this one performed really well here, big, healthy plants and delicious tubers.
King Edward: Delicious, multi purpose potato. One year I was running late (like most years...) and these didn't get planted until January, and they performed beautifully. Fantastic yield, delicate skin, good keeper. Really reliable cropper and all rounder in the kitchen.
Up-To-Date: Scottish heirloom, fantastic baking potato.

Kennebec: Traditional, grandmotherly spud. These big, blocky shaped tubers were bred for their long keeping qualities. These are my favourite to nestle beside a leg of lamb in a roasting tray, they seem to soak up pan juices and become beautifully fluffy texture inside, while being crispy on the outside. They have a tendency to grow big, so it is recommended that you plant them close together to check their growth and keep them a reasonable size.

Dutch Cream:  Sweet, waxy, golden fleshed, multi purpose spud.
Pinkeye: The earliest. In a frost free garden, or with a sneaky pot on the veranda, you'll be eating potatoes in early summer. This beautiful spud, for me, brings with it memories of childhood feasts with my mum buying a 'half case' of the first South Arm pinkeyes she could get her hands on. After rubbing off their thin, sandy skin under the tap, they would be boiled with handfuls of mint from the garden, and served with butter, salt and pepper. So good. She now laments seeing them year round, for her, and for me, they are best enjoyed straight from the earth as a as a seasonal treat. I must've eaten these too quickly last season to take any pictures... Maggie Beer has a wonderful discussion of these, and the idea of what constitutes a 'proper' pinkeye in her book 'Maggie's Harvest'. We're running low on Pinkeyes, leave a comment here if you'd like to reserve a kg or two to collect on Sunday. 

Rainbow chips. With spuds like these who needs chemicals to make food fun for kids? 

A little note; we are still eating the King Edwards, Cranberry Reds and Sapphire we harvested last season. A friend stores her potatoes in an old chest of drawers covered with a heavy blanket, ours are in sacks in the shed and are only just starting to shoot. It feels wonderful to be self sufficient in such a nutritious, tasty form of carbohydrates!