Monday, October 3, 2011

Pomme De Terre - Apples Of The Earth

Potatoes are one of my favourite crops to grow and they are generally pretty foolproof.



The above picture shows the six varieties of potatoes that I grew this year (varies from year to year).
Top Row, left to right: German Fingerling, Caribe, Granola
Bottom Row, left to right: All Red, Spunta, Chieftan

Each variety has their particular merits.  German Fingerlings are just a wonderful tasting little potato, different from mainstream varieties.  These were grown just from store bought eating variety (definitely not the best practice, but it worked for me). Caribe have an attractive purple skin and are oblong - a good baking potato.  Granola, was a new variety that I bought at the local feed store last spring.  They are yellow fleshed, oblong, but I found far too many had a brown spot at the root end, which I fear may turn to rot - will probably not keep any for seed because of this.

All Red's are a novelty variety, but I am impressed with them.  They are bright red skinned, with pink flesh that stays pink when cooked.  I have yet to bake them, but they are fine as a boiled potato.  Spunta is another new variety I bought last spring.  It was advertised as yellow fleshed, but they look pretty white to me.  Unfortunately, I grew them in my poorest soil, and the yield was abysmal, 2 or 3 tubers per plant, but they were all perfectly shaped specimens -- will try next year in better soil.  Red Chieftans are our mainstay and have been for decades.  They are just a wonderful, consistent producer, regardless of conditions, smooth skinned and great keepers.

When I was younger, I used to exhibit a lot of vegetables, flowers and artwork in several local fairs.  One particular fall, one of the fairs went all out with their potato exhibits.  There were the usual catalogue entries, but that year there were also many specials (must have been a centennial fair).  I determined to win as many of these categories as possible.

Now those of you have exhibited potatoes, will know there is a definite knack to preparing a show potato.  Water must never sully their skins.  They must be laid out to dry (in a location devoid of light which will sunburn them).  Then they are lightly brushed with a soft bristle brush to just quickly remove the clumps of adhering dirt.  Each tuber, is then individually burnished to a soft glow, with a soft cloth.

But perhaps I should back up a step or two.  Show potatoes must be all carefully dug by hand - literally by hand - you will spear and mar too many with a manure or potato fork.  Then they have to be carefully selected for size, shape and freedom from skin blemishes (either scab, insect or mechanical damage).  A show potato is just fits nicely in the palm of your hand, size-wise, I'm guessing 4-6 ounces or so.

Anyway, back to my story of the fair fiasco.  I had hand dug, selected, dried and polished several bushel baskets of potates, in addition to four quart baskets.  And yes, I did pretty well clean up at the fair, first on most entries.  What I didn't realize was that all the specials winners, were donated to the donors of the prizes.  Thus I when I went to collect my entries after the fair, all my potatoes were gone, and all I had left was the ribbons.  Some folks ate some pretty fancy potatoes that winter, while we dined on the rough, scabby cast offs that didn't make fair grade.

I dug my crop the other day, amid the raindrops - these muddy specimens would never have been fair worthy, but still pretty edible.
Blue caribe - a nice blue skinned winter keeper - good yield

All Red - another high yielder.  This was a new variety for me last year.

Fingerlings - wonderful buttery flavour, waxy texture and this year they were very high yielders as well.


Here they are cross sectioned to give you a better idea of flesh colour, sorry the All Reds are usually more vibrant pink, but you get the idea.  Top: Fingerling, Chieftan.  Middle: All Red, Spunta.  Bottom: Caribe, Granola.

And there you have my winter supply, not anywhere near what I used to grow, but the family is down to three, and two of them are very carbohydrate conscious -- I still like my taties though!

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

5 comments:

  1. Wohoo!!! Did anybody day 'french fries'??? Heeehehehe!

    Here I done gone thought I'd see it all but I've never seen that banana shaped potato!

    Hey man, I just wanted to thank ya for hoppin' on my humble old blog. I sure hope ya'll enjoy the ride!

    In the words of that wild and crazy Granny Clampett, "ya'll come back now...ya hear!!!:

    God bless and have a spectacular day fella!!! :o)

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  2. You got a good crop of tators! Ours didn't do so well. We are just now enjoying summer squash though. I'm glad that blasted heat is over with!

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  3. I am so impressed on just how precise and organised you are
    food for thought

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  4. I like potatoes too..any shape or form. Those long Fingerling potatoes look very interesting:)

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  5. thanks for sharing.

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