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What's new in the potato field.

There was a time, and not too long ago, when a potato was a potato. They came in red, white, and brown, and could be boiled, fried, or baked, but there wasn't very much that was any simpler or more common than the ubiquitous potato.

Those days are past, according to David Ronniger, of Ronniger's Seed Potatoes. Based on about 18,000 orders a year, he's seeing major changes in potato preferences.

There is much more awareness of, and interest in, potato varieties. The old tans, reds and russets offered by the local feed store at planting time have given way to literally hundreds of varieties. Ronniger's alone has over 150, and there are significant differences among most of them, David Ronniger says.

Hot potatoes

Yellow-fleshed potatoes are hot items, David reports. "Following the lead of Europeans, who have always preferred yellow-fleshed potatoes to white, our customers are buying yellow more and more."

There's probably a good reason for this, he notes. Most taste tests show that yellows are generally--but not always--tastier than those with white flesh. They also tend to be creamier or more "buttery," which appeals to cholesterol-conscious grower-eaters. "If you can serve a potato that seems buttery without the addition of butter, why not?" David asks.

His best-selling yellow-fleshed potato is Yukon Gold.

Heirloom varieties are also booming. "People want to try the potatoes their grandparents grew and spoke so fondly of," David says.

Fingerlings are becoming increasingly popular. A rarity a few years ago, these are now common in gourmet markets and restaurants... and on the tables of discriminating homesteaders as well.

Consumers are becoming more aware of the nutritional value--as well as the taste and texture--of potato skins. David surmises that skins used to be routinely discarded out of fear of unknown pesticide residues. This is of no concern to people who grow their own without pesticides.

For more information

For more potato growing information and a catalog listing more than 150 varieties, send $2 to Ronniger's Seed Potatoes, Star Rt. C, Moyie Springs ID 83845.
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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