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Finally, plenty of colored-flesh potatoes | New World Seeds & Tubers


In case you’re wondering, no, it’s not photoshopped. If it were, I probably would have shifted the yellow to green on the leaves while I was at it so they didn’t look a bit chlorotic. I don’t remember them being chlorotic; more likely it’s the light and the fact you’re looking at the undersides of the leaves. Oddly, potato plants that bear tubers with intense yellow flesh look that way normally. Anyway, the tubers are about as red on the inside too.

Last spring while we still had potato sampler packs available for sale, we got a lot of special requests for specific colored-flesh potatoes.

Unfortunately, our stocks were low due to a fiasco the previous year. Tom lost a lot of Negro y Azuls and other potatoes that had been mentioned by name in Carol Deppe’s book The Resilient Gardener.

Subject to harvest, this year we expect plenty of not only the colored-flesh potatoes that customers have read about and asked for, but newer varieties fresh out of Tom’s breeding program.

Personally I wonder why there are not as many inquiries for the beautiful violets (more of a reddish shade of purple than the blues, and a little lighter colored) or the beet-red reds as there are for the “blues”. My best guess is that most folks just don’t know about them yet.

We’ve been so busy growing them that I haven’t had the chance to eat any yet. Unlike some of the competing blues out in the market, which tend to have an unpleasantly crumbly texture, Tom has blues with textures anywhere from waxy for making perfect cubes for potato salad, through starchier Russet types, to more “primitive types. Medium to high specific gravity, which means that if you don’t rush harvesting they won’t be watery and shrivel up after cooking like many store-bought potatoes do.

Once I have extras I’m going to experiment with them. I want to know how to best preserve the colors. The pigment is anthrocyanin, the same one as in blueberries. Some of Tom’s potatoes have about as much anthrocyanin as a blueberry! From what I’ve found on the internet, microwaving is the top choice for preserving the color, followed by steaming and baking. I’m wondering if lower temperature would help. The yellows are tough carotenoids; it’s the blues and reds that need some TLC.

What do you think? Any cooks out there who have figured out the best way to preserve the colors in colored-flesh potatoes? We’d love to hear from you.

Additional reading:

A lot of customers asked us about specific potato varieties mentioned in Carol Deppe’s book The Resilient Gardener. There are reasons she mentioned specific varieties, and also specific purposes for them, but Tom has more varieties than she would have had access to, and many of them are very similar.

While Tom appreciates the publicity, the real reason we like the book is because it’s about a topic near and dear to our hearts, and that is, food self-sufficiency. This is one of the few books on the subject that really gets into the heart of the matter. For one thing, she keeps it simple by recommending just 4 strategically-chosen core crops, plus eggs. With just these 4 staple crops, you can get all of the macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrate) you need. Most people in most parts of the USA, and much of Europe, can grow them.

Dr. Deppe likes corn because she is sensitive to wheat gluten. Corn has another advantage though: as is true of most Amerindian crops (there’s a reason we like them), it is very convenient for manual planting, cultivation, and harvesting. The scale of the plant makes it easy. Contrast to wheat, which is backbreaking work to harvest with a cradle scythe.

This is the only book I have read on the topic that is practical instead of purely theoretical. If you are serious about growing your own food, this is a good book to start with. Only $19.77 new, which is a bargain for one of those “keeper” books you’re likely to save for future reference and re-reading.

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2 Responses to “Finally, plenty of colored-flesh potatoes”

  1. The mini tubers look fascinating! I look forward to see what will be offered in the Fall and Spring.
    My wife is Greek and came here in 2002 and until then she had never seen let alone cooked a red potato! There is simply one type of potato to buy in Greece and that is thick skinned whites of some type, that is at least as of 2002. So, she is now experimenting with all the flesh and skin colors we find. We don’t have any secrets for cooked flesh color retention yet but she is looking for the perfect roasting potatoes. Greek cooking has many recipes for potatoes to be cut up drizzled with olive oil and oregano and baked / roasted in a pan in the oven. Through New World Seeds and Tubers, I have opened a new culinary door to her and her wonderful cooking.

    • Good to hear from you, Al. You must be spoiled with that Greek cooking! A lot of folks must envy you.

      Potatoes make surprisingly good shish-kebab material, if you choose the right kind and a good size, and partially cook them before roasting on the grill. I would also try roasting or grilling them with other vegetables as either a side-dish to other things, and in salads and cold pastas. Some sort of sour-oily marinade might go well with them.

      We’ll be posting more recipes from now on. We also invite our friends and guests to do the same.

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