More than Maris Peer: a brief heritage potato guide

pots

Love potatoes? These South America native tubers have been growing and enjoyed in Britain since 1586. They’ve lifted Western Europe out of famine, allowing the populations to prosper well into the 20th century. This delicious tuber is positively a part of our heritage!

There are over 5,000 potato varieties worldwide, and 3,000 of which are only found in Peru. In the UK and across Europe, hundreds of years of enjoyment have led to an  incredible, array of beautiful and mouth-watering varieties. British supermarkets, however, may lead you to believe otherwise…

Ever been in a supermarket and only found Maris Peer? That’s definitely enough to kill your enthusiasm for a potato dinner…

So, what happened to heritage?

In the first half of the twentieth century, heritage potatoes were grown, loved and cooked in households across the UK. But after the second world war, a devastated country was pressured to bypass the growing of potatoes for delicious nuances. The goal was, instead, to feed a hungry country. Crops were prized for their yield rather than colour and flavour. As commercialism took over and supermarkets began their reign, profit over produce became the commercial mantra.

Why are heritage varieties so good?

With modern breeding practices aiming to make the potato as profitable and uniform as possible, the charm and palatability found in many heritage varieties is by-passed. Heritage potatoes, therefore, are often found with colours, shapes, sizes and textures  missing from their commercial cousins. Hmm, no wonder heritage potatoes are so prized! But, with their shorter growing seasons, enjoy heritage potatoes while they’re here…

 

POTAD
A 1960s potato advert – when there was still more variety commercially!

Waxy ←→ Floury

From waxy to floury, potatoes come in a spectrum of textures. These texture make certain varieties suited to particular dishes and styles of cooking, so it’s always good to know the texture of the variety your buying. Floury potatoes have a high starch content and low water content, with a dry texture that falls apart easily and soaks up flavour. Waxy potatoes are so for their low starch and high water content that can be intense in flavour but not soak up any additional flavours so well. All-purpose fall somewhere in-between.

But, waxy or floury, our heritage potatoes are always delicious. (Move over Maris Peer…)

A QUICK FIN & FARM POTATO A-V. 

Arran Victory 1918arranvic

Bred on Scotland’s seventh largest (and very beautiful) island, the Arran Victory 1918 was created to mark the end of World War One. Round in shape, and with deep blue-pink skin and white fluffy flesh, this potato makes the perfect mash, pie topping or a delicious bake.

Highland Burgundy Red 1936

This red skinned, red fleshed potato was bred to add a shock of colour to the meals of the Duke of Burgundy. Long oval in shape, sweet in flavour and floury in texture, Highland Burgundy Reds are excellent for striking roast potatoes, chips, crisps and baked potatoes. Keep the skin on to better retain colour!

Inca Belle 

INCABELLAFrom a variety of potato still popular today in the Andes, the Inca Belle is a beautifully golden, oval potato. It’s nutty flavour, smooth flesh and unique cooking properties (it’ll cook much quicker than the varieties you’re probably used to!) make it a cook’s favourite. Best for roasting – hands down as we did the heritage roast test ourselves!

Mayan Gold

The first potatoes in the UK bred from the indigenous Phureja potatoes of Peru, this beautiful variety is a real treat to experience. With golden flesh and skin, a wonderfully moreish flavour, and fluffy texture, this potato is perfect for roasting, mashing and baking. 

Mayan Twilight

With pink and white skin, firm waxy texture and moreish flavour, this quick to cook potato is a treat in the kitchen. Best for salads and stews with it’s slightly sweet, nutty flavour and smooth texture.

Pink Gypsy

With pink and white skins and fluffy white flesh, these beauties are ideal for roasting, baking and mashing. 

Red Duke of York

Originally found in a Dutch crop of classic Duke of Yorks, this potato quickly became popular. With fluffy, creamy flesh, sweet taste and gorgeously red-hued skin, this heritage potato is a fabulous all-rounder. However, these beauties are perfect for roasting as they get deliciously crispy skins.  

Shetland Black

With light buttery, sweet flesh and floury texture, this indigo skinned potato is a ktichen delight. While the origin of this particular variety is a mystery, it’s been grown in the Shetland Islands since at least the early 1900s. Bake the shetland black whole, in it’s skin, for warming, crisp potato deliciousness.

Violetta

violetta

These small, flavourful potatoes have a deep indigo skin and and intensely purple flesh. They are, visually, perhaps the most striking potato we’ve seen here at Fin and Farm. With a floury texture, it’s best to leave the skin on these potatoes to help retain colour when cooking (plus, it’s tasty and more nutritious!). Best for roasting, baking and mashing for an eye catching twist on some classics!

**not an extensive list of our potatoes! Explore varieties here.**

A Potato Experiment

While these potatoes have their ‘best for’ uses as determined by how floury or waxy they are – don’t be afraid to experiment! Small, waxy potatoes can be delicious roasted whole for intense, crisp flavour bites, thrown into stews, or crushed with oil, herbs and garlic. These wonderful potatoes deserve to be enjoyed any way you like – so let us know what you think each variety is best for and what you’ve been cooking with them!

Bonus! Did you know…?

The potato certainly caused a stir when first introduced to this part of the world, and was treated, at first, with a mix of love and fear. Over in North America, during the gold rush when nutritious food was scarce and gold abundant, there was a time when potatoes were worth more than gold!


Image 1: New Spuds  for Dinner by cskk/ Flickr (CC). Image 2: 1967 Food Ad, Campbell’s Potatoes by Classic Film/Flickr (CC).

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More than Maris Peer: a brief heritage potato guide

Purple Potatoes: What’s the Deal?

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Potatoes comes in many, many varieties – much more than a glance of a British supermarket would have you believe. But none could be more distinct than the Vitelotte. With it’s deep purple-black skin and bright blue-violet flesh, this potato has a stunning vivid colour, and distinctive, chestnutty taste.

What makes them purple?

Purple potatoes are packed full of anti-oxidants – and, primarily, the anti-oxidant ‘anthocyanin’, the flavinoid that gives red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables their distinctive colour. Revered for both it’s use as a dye and for it’s health promoting benefits, purple-hued plants have been cultivated for thousands of years for this wonderful antioxidant.

Did you know that purple produce was one of the predicted trends for 2017? With the health and wellness movement taking the world by storm – we’re not surprised! (Plus, purple foods are delicious…)

Why is this so good?

Antioxidants are essential to counter the effects of oxidants (i.e. ‘free-radicals’) in the body. In an antioxidant scarce diet, oxidants are free to cause cell damage, increase inflammation and contributing to disease progression. Purple potatoes, fortunately, have much more than antioxidants than their paler potato cousins – hence the vivid hue.

Anthocyanins are, in fact, antioxidant superheroes and are a potent force of health in the body, as demonstrated by a plethora of in-vitro and participant studies. For example, one study found that adding purple potatoes to the diets of overweight, middle aged subjects reduced their blood pressure by five points within a month. Just by adding potatoes! (And who doesn’t love the idea of eating more potatoes for health?) And, the purple cherry on top: despite the calorie increase, none of the subjects gained any weight. Purple potatoes truly are superior…

What to do with them?

Purple potatoes definitely taste different to your usual supermarket yellow and white varieties – and that’s a good thing! With their nutty taste and magnificent colour (even when cooked), you can use these delicious potatoes in any potato recipe you desire for a twist. Whip up a salad and add vitelottes for a striking visual element; slice, drizzle with olive oil and herbs and roast for some truly spectacular and flavoursome french fries, or how about this recipe for a striking autumn gratin?

Recipe:

You’ll need:
5 medium vitelotte potatoes, sliced
1 festival squash, peeled and cubed.
1 leek , sliced
A generous bunch of spinach
A handful of sage
A handful of thyme
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 good tsp black pepper
1 cup of Sussex cream
5 oz Sister Sarah cheese

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180c. In a baking dish, layer the leeks, spinach, squash and potatoes, finishing with a layer of purple potatoes for the top layer. Sprinkle each layer with garlic, herbs and pepper. When layered, pour over the cream and top with the Sister Sarah cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for about an hour and half – or until the potatoes and squash are cooked.

purp1

Want to try some interesting, unusual and downright delicious potato varieties, grown in Sussex? Take a look at our range now! 

Have you tried vitelotte potatoes? What do you think? What’s your favourite heritage potato? Let us know in the comments or on our social media! (@finandfarm)


Recipe inspired by Autumn Potato Gratin by Better Homes and Gardens.
Image 1: Luscious Potato Plant Flowers by Laura Ferreira/ Flickr (CC)
Image 2: Purple Peruvian Potatoes by Pim Techamuanvivit/ Flickr (CC)

Purple Potatoes: What’s the Deal?

Fingerling Potatoes – How to Store and Cook

Roasted-Fingerling-Poatoes-recipe

Picture of Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes from The Dish

After chatting with our aunt, she made a very good point that a meal without potato is missing a limb. That sums up how important potatoes are in all their gorgeous versatility.  Plus a good reason why we are excited that fingerlings are the potato of the month.  We can happily enjoy their sweet nutty flavour for the next four weeks…

Fingerlings appeared relatively late in potato history – both are Victorian varieties and specifically cultivated to create their unique texture and flavour.  La Rattes were Danish and Pink Fir Apples, British, but they rapidly emigrated across the channel to France where they became the chef’s darling.

Anyway, our potatoes, as you will have seen from previous blogs, come from the beautiful Morghew Park in Tenterden, the specialist potato farm which sits on the Kent and Sussex border, who manage to produce such a stunning collection of heritage potatoes.


 

Mixed Bags or Available Singly

The special offer potatoes this month are available as either single kilo bags, mixed 2kg bags if you like a selection or single 5kg boxes.


 

La Ratte Potatoes

La Ratte, also known as Asparge potato or La Reine du Touquet.  Even though they’re Danish, their legacy is definitely French as Rattes are the chef’s choice for famous French dishes and rich potato purees.  Equally they are delicious as salad potatoes or in casseroles and stews, as they keep their shape in cooking.  They have a pale cream skin and flesh and a slightly hazelnutty flavour.

laratte

Pink Fir Apple Potatoes

Pink Fir Apple potatoes are long and knobbly with a wonderful nutty, earthy flavour.  They boil and steam well, keeping their shape and are extremely delicious roasted.  They have a pinkish skin and creamy yellow flesh, which after cooking is satisfyingly waxy, soft and buttery.

pinkfir


 

How to store

Fingerling potatoes are less tough than other varieties as their skins are more delicate, so keeping them in the fridge can actually encourage them to absorb the damp and go off more quickly.  Ideally, keep them in a brown paper bag in a dark cool cupboard and they should stay fresher for a bit longer.


 

How to cook

These are absolutely perfect boiled or steamed as they hold their shape well.  Their nuttiness pairs smoothly with a smoked salt or in a salad.  Equally, they are delicious roasted. Either way, no need to peel as they are delicious in their skins.

Fingerlings are firm and waxy, which is why they have been so popular in French dishes where they are slow roasted with cream or butter and still keep their shape well.

Here are some more ways to use – plus a really interesting chocolate pastry recipe.  Some call for a Jersey Royal but La Ratte would work just as well.


Some ways to use Fingerling Potatoes

Don’t know about you but we can’t resist a roast potato.  Fingerlings are sublime roasted and this recipe with chive pesto is a glorious combination of colours. However, til local chives are through we would probably use a delicious spicy rocket or wild garlic, shoudl that still be available.

roasted-fingerlings-chive-pesto

The Secret Recipe Club has a delicious and healthy protein rich recipe which would make a quick midweek supper with her Roasted Broccoli and Fingerling Gribiche

Pizza and potatoes sounds like a step too far, but the waxy texture of fingerlings actually seems like it should work and provide that smooth creamy base for the blue cheese in this Gorgonzola and Fingerling Potatoes, Radicchio and Rosemary Pizza

As a side dish to a roast, fingerlings can cope with some robust flavours so don’t be put off by combining with strong flavours such as mustard, paprika, pancetta, bacon or other cured meats.  Roasted with a mustard crust here.

Or, there are a couple of stunning Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipes here which take the flavours one step further with the spicy Italian Devil potatoes and a rich Pan Haggerty, which is a Northumbrian dish of pan-fried potatoes, onion and cheese (we love this version!).

Or, and this one is intriguing and will be on our cooking list next weekend are waxy potato and chocolate pastries – we will keep you updated on that one.  This calls for Jersey Royals but La Ratte are perfect (and local) and our feeling is that the potato will be a creamy moist base for buttery pastry.

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www.finandfarm.co.uk

Fingerling Potatoes – How to Store and Cook

The Triple Heritage Potatoes

mashed-potatoes-2

Picture from Veggie on a Penny

What could be a lovelier sight than a fluffy mound of mashed potato?  But to do it right is still an art form and everyone has their own preferred routine.

But…one thing that everyone must agree on is that the right potato is key.

For our potato of the month, we have three heritage varieties for you to try – and all make spectacular mash.

All three of these are floury potatoes with a low water content so are pretty good keepers if kept cool and dry.

All these glorious potatoes are grown on the fertile Morghew Estate which sits on the Kent/Sussex border.

Continue reading “The Triple Heritage Potatoes”

The Triple Heritage Potatoes

Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most

leeks

Leeks when they are freshly picked have a sweetness that they lose after they’ve been sitting in a supermarket chiller.  The biodynamic leeks that Toos grows in Cuckfield are so tender and have a real potency of flavour that lifts any dish they’re added to. Continue reading “Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most”

Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most

Guide to Fin and Farm Potatoes

Roastpotatoes

If you didn’t know better, then a glance at what we are offered commercially, you would imagine that we only have a few varieties of potato growing in the UK.  Many have fallen by the wayside as they are too delicate and prone to blight and the hardiest now make up pretty much 90% of what we are familiar with…which, to be honest, can be just dull.

Continue reading “Guide to Fin and Farm Potatoes”

Guide to Fin and Farm Potatoes