Our ability to grow and harvest potatoes is one of the many perks of being a farmer. After planting, they are extremely low-maintenance, only requiring occasional hilling, weeding, and watering so the plants have space to develop their tuberous roots in the beds provided for them. As far as harvesting is concerned, they all come out at once and can be stored for many months afterward. All-in-all, you spend a few mornings planting, a few mornings digging them up, and you have a couple thousand pounds to eat and sell for the rest of the year. We had a fantastic yield this year, and ended up harvesting a metric ton of potatoes after planting about 125 pounds of seed. A lot of folk would be happy to get a ratio of 12:1, so we were very pleased with our yield of 17:1.
There are also a lot of reasons we love cooking with potatoes. These little balls of slightly sweet starch fried up in a pan or roasted in the oven are the perfect accompaniment to any breakfast, lunch, or dinner. At our most recent farm-to-table dinner, we served all four varieties of potatoes we grow here as their own course. Roasted in a wood-fired oven with beef tallow and garnished with peppery arugula flowers, they were an instant hit. Having multiple varieties of these simple tubers makes cooking with them all the more enjoyable, as you compare and contrast flavor, texture, and appearance. Here’s the basic run-down of our usual suspects:
These are similar to Yukon gold, and are perfect for frying and making potatoes au gratin. They have an exceptional sweet flavor when caramelized in a pan or roasted in the oven, and also possess a superior creamy texture. If you’re making chips, fries, or anything in between, this is the potato for you. When making fries, remember to soak them in salty water overnight to remove some of the starch (this burns in the fryer). The other most important step when doing this is the initial oil “blanche” where the potatoes are cooked in moderately hot oil (about 300-350). This gelatinizes the outer layer of starch and makes for a crispier fry or chip. It also cooks the inner portion of the potato so you aren’t waiting for it to cook through while your tubers burn. The final fry should be at around 400-450 degrees in vegetable oil. If you soaked them in salty water, the fries shouldn’t need much seasoning, which ultimately makes them soggy - salt is hydroscopic and pulls moisture out of crisp and crunchy things.
Red-skinned and white-fleshed, these are the perfect potato salad potatoes. They have a great starchy texture that absorbs sauce and vinaigrette well, so we recommend going with german potato salad. This is a great alternative to the mayo-saturated dish we are accustom to in NC and very easy to make. Roast off a pound or two of potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees, and when they are done allow them to cool on your counter. In the meantime, make a vinaigrette using chopped green onions, minced garlic, chopped dill, whole grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, and bacon fat (it is acceptable to use vegetable oil, but the Germans will judge you). Combine everything together, season with salt and enjoy.
If we’re going to be completely honest, these vary very little from Colorado Rose in flavor, but their appearance is very dramatic. A deep-purple skin gives way to a milky-white flesh that makes for beautiful presentation in dishes. We would discourage you from peeling these so as to showcase their unique look.
These are a farm-favorite, because we love the purple skin AND purple flesh combination. Anytime you use these, your potato dishes will have a much more exciting hue to them. You can make purple gnocchi, purple latkes, purple chips, purple hashbrowns, purple au gratin...the list goes on. These guys mash really well, so consider that next time you need to make a side of whipped taters for meat and vegetable dishes.