It’s spring, it’s spring! And with the season comes the harvesting of the spring produce in our growing zone, which fortuitously includes the earliest of potato crops, new potatoes!
New potatoes, or baby potatoes, are vegetable tubers that are harvested in late spring or early summer when they are small and immature; if they were to continue to be allowed to grow they would grow into the standard larger versions. The reason for harvesting when they are still young is due to the creamy, sweet flavour of their tender interior, whereas their larger siblings have much firmer flesh.
The most common and available new potatoes at least for our region, are either red- or yellow-skinned. As with all spuds, choose firm, well-shaped new potatoes without significant sprouts or a greenish cast to them; it’s especially important about making sure they are not at all green, as you don’t typically peel new potatoes (unless you are a masochist), and green potato skin is toxic. Please not to be with the eating, kthanx.
New potatoes should be available in all growing zones that would normally harvest their bigger siblings in the following growing season (ex. in my growing zone, new potatoes are available late spring/early summer, and regular/full-sized potatoes are harvested late summer/early fall).
In Scandinavia, especially Sweden and Finland, newly harvested, early ripening varieties are considered a special delicacy. Cooked and served with dill, they are traditionally consumed together with pickled Baltic herring, such as this simple recipe for New Potatoes with Dill from website SwedishFood.com.
According to the Idaho Potato Museum (yes they have a museum dedicated to potatoes!):
- The potato is about 80% water and 20% solids.
- An 8 ounce baked or boiled potato has only about 100 calories.
- The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year while Germans eat about twice as much.
- In 1974, an Englishman named Eric Jenkins grew 370 pounds of potatoes from one plant.
- Today potatoes are grown in all 50 states of the USA and in about 125 countries throughout the world.
Speaking of America, the inimitable Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, via food website powerhouse The Food Network has a fantastic, flag-waving, GBA style traditional New Potato Salad recipe that is simply scrumptious. Regardless of political ideology, this potato salad transcends borders, cultures and languages and brings people together (typically in BBQ picnic type settings, but that’s neither here nor there).
Did you know: the sweet potato actually belongs to the same family as morning glories, while the white potato is of the nightshade family which also includes tomatoes, tobacco, chili peppers, eggplant and the petunia?
Another interesting potato fact from the Potato Museum: In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.
POTATOES IN SPAAAAACE!
I’ll bet those astronauts wished they had access to some wicked-yummy Roasted Salt and Vinegar Smashed New Potatoes or Chorizo and New Potato Hash with Poached Eggs and Salsa Verde, or these Braised New Potatoes from the article 10 best new potato recipes, in the food section of online UK newspaper The Guardian.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest potato grown was 7 pounds 1 ounce by J. East (1953) and J. Busby (1982) of Great Britain. I can respect that, though that’s a lot of potato even for me, a potato-loving maniac. But to be honest, as much as I love those big bois baked and piled high with butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon bits and chives (*drool*), I will always state my first love is a simple roasted new potato, such as this ridiculously easy recipe for Air Fryer Roasted New Potatoes. Try it; you’ll understand why they are magnifique.
Air Fryer New Potatoes
YIELD: 4 servings | PREP: 5 mins | ROAST: 20 mins
- 1-2 lbs of new potatoes (red or yellow flesh), washed and trimmed of any eyes or damage, halved
- 1 tbsp/15mL olive oil
- 1 tsp/3g garlic powder
- 1 tsp/2g onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat air fryer with basket inside to 400°F/205°C.
- Meanwhile, toss halved potatoes with oil and seasonings until well-coated.
- Add to preheated basket and cook at temp above for 20 minutes, stirring and shaking potatoes at the halfway mark. Potatoes are ready when they are golden and crispy, and easily pierced with a fork.
- Serve hot. Regret you didn’t make double this amount because they will be inhaled to the last crumb immediately.