The flavor of potatoes is influenced by the stage of development at which they are harvested. Potatoes dug while the vines are still green are termed "new potatoes", and have a special sweet flavor and texture. Because sugars are continuously being produced in the leaves and transported to the tubers, the special new potato flavor does not keep for more than a week or so after the potatoes are dug. It's better to dig small quantities of new potatoes each week than a large amount at one time.
We have new potatoes ready for creamed peas and new potatoes for the 4th of July each year. The round white variety, Superior, is the first to be ready. Red new potatoes available a little later in July.
The process of digging potatoes causes bruises, scrapes and sometimes cuts. Freshly dug potatoes require a period of ten days to two weeks at room temperature to allow the wounds to heal. After that, they can be successfully stored for several months at temperatures between about 40° F and 50° F. High humidity is desirable, but potatoes should never be allowed to get wet. Potatoes must be stored in the dark to keep them from turning green. (Green parts of potato tubers can be toxic and should not be eaten.) Covered cardboard or wooden containers work well. Tight plastic containers may not allow the potatoes sufficient opportunity to "breathe". Do not wash or scrub potatoes until you are ready to use them. Potatoes do not store well after washing.
In a meat, potatoes and gravy culture, many people don't realize that potatoes have much flavor. (That's what gravy, butter and sour cream are for.) However, some kinds of potatoes have a very nice flavor of their very own! We have selected the varieties of potatoes that we raise for flavor.
We raise Superior potatoes, an early round white variety with excellent flavor. Yukon Golds are good bakers with yellow flesh. Our red potatoes are sweet as new potatoes, and well flavored and fine textured when mature. Yellow Finn potatoes are Chris's favorite. Very fine texture and sweet flavor. These yellow fleshed potatoes are good microwaved or in casseroles.
And of course, for just plain great flavor we have the fingerling variety, Rose Finn Apple. These fingerling potatoes are great in potato salad, or microwaved and served as finger food - either warm or cold.
Pick your own potatoes really means dig your own potatoes. Kids just love the process. Start with a few vines coming out of bare ground, put the shovel in the ground, and all of a sudden a handful of potatoes appear. It's a real treasure hunt.
There are a few tricks that make digging potatoes more efficient and easier. Start with the blade of the shovel straight up and down about 5 inches away from where the vines enter the ground, and push it 8 to 10 inches into the ground. Then pull back on the handle a little, and push the shovel under the potatoes. Push back and down on the handle, and the potatoes are lifted to the surface. Watch the kids scramble to find all of the buried treasure!
To help all customers find the kind of potatoes that they want and to minimize wastefulness, we have a set of instructions that we ask all diggers to please follow. In the field you will find that the rows of the different varieties of potatoes are marked with different colored stakes. Once you know which kind of potato you want (white, red, yellow, fingerlings), find the row marked with the corresponding colored stake (this information is provided to you at the farm). We ask you to:
We appreciate cooperative diggers/pickers. Such customers are a tremendous help toward making harvesting veggies at The Tree Farm simple, fun, and enjoyable for all.