December 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

If it weren’t for the seemingly infinite variety of potatoes, we would surely get sick of them.  The first “new potatoes” are dug around the 4th of July and the last potatoes leave the ground in late fall. The best storage varieties among those late potatoes are kept in root cellars through the winter, remaining firm and crisp for our enjoyment.  Some will keep until March or April, which means that here in Maine we’re eating local potatoes 9-10 months out of the year. That’s a lot of spuds.

Given the potato’s long season, we’re lucky to have dozens, even hundreds, of varieties to keep us on our toes. Maine prides itself as a potato state (have you ever seen the potato farms in The County?) and the small farms we source from grow a stunning variety of potatoes.  There are yellow, red, white, blue and purple skinned potatoes with flesh in just as many colors. Some are good for mashing, others for baking, roasting, frying or chips. Even small farms commonly grow a dozen or more varieties.  Classics like Yukon Gold, Katahdin, Red Gold and Kennebec are perennial favorites and new varieties are trialed every year.  

At Horsepower Farm in Penobscot, one of our favorite suppliers, their favorite potato is Onaway.  This round white potato originated many decades ago at Aroostock Farm in Presque Isle, a research farm run by the University of Maine.  The folks at Horsepower have saved the seed for this potato every year maintaining strong seed stock for a variety that has thrived at their farm.  We’ve distributed Onaway potatoes several times in our vegetable shares.  Its moist texture and tender skin make it perfect for boiling and baking, but the possibilities are pretty much endless. A few years ago, Horsepower Farm nearly lost their seed stock when deer decimated the crop.  They managed to save just enough to plant a small crop the next year and a larger one the year after that.  This year, Horsepower Farm was able to return to full production of the Onaway potato and we’re thrilled!

The potato is a remarkably well-rounded package of nutrition. Potatoes are high in Potassium and vitamins C & B and contain trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. They’re a great source of healthy carbohydrates and their skins (which are often delicious!) provide a good dose of fiber.

In the Kitchen
The great diversity of potatoes translates directly to a great diversity of options in the kitchen.  Not all potatoes can be treated alike, however.  Wood Prairie Farm, an organic seed potato farm in Bridgewater has created a little chart that will help you decide what to do with potatoes based on their texture.  View the chart HERE.

Many people have been taught to peel potatoes, but it’s often an unnecessary step.  The large russet potatoes available in the grocery store are certainly best peeled, but the skins of many of the potatoes we source are beautiful and flavorful, even in mashed potatoes where they can add a nice bit of color and texture.

A week or so ago we made our own version of  “chips” with Horsepower Farm’s Onaway potatoes.  Slice them as thin as you can (carefully!), skins on, toss with salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil and lay them out in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast at 425F for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

It seems everyone has a favorite recipe for potatoes and we’d love to hear yours – email us at freerangefarmtruck@live.com to share your potato secrets.




Entry filed under: Vegetable Profiles.

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