POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 23, 2011
Potatoes are making their way into farmers markets right now, a treat since we don't often see fresh, island-grown spuds. The potato harvest is under way at Twin Bridge Farms in Waialua, known for their slender stalks of asparagus. It's also a farm that often grows research trial crops; once the potato crop is grown and the data recorded, we get to eat the potatoes!
Potatoes are the fourth-largest food crop in the world, following rice, wheat and corn. They originated in Peru where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Thousands of varieties exist; we see only a handful in our markets.
Farmer Milton Agader is harvesting Norland and Chieftain varieties with red skins, yellow flesh Yukon Gold, Satina and Bintje varieties and a Russet variety. All of these are being harvested and sold fresh. The potatoes are available now at the Nalo Farms booth at Hawaii Farm Bureau farmers markets and are slated for Foodland and Whole Foods next week. These potatoes should be available for a couple of months.
Buy fresh potatoes as you need them; they are perishable. They should be stored in a cool place (not in the refrigerator) and away from light; otherwise, they will darken and develop sugar rather than maintain their starch.
What to do with potatoes? Not much, if they're fresh. Boil, steam or bake and eat them with a little butter, salt and pepper. Relish their freshness and sweetness, a far cry from potatoes that are harvested and held in cold storage for months.
Of course, there's mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, french fries, scalloped potatoes, hash browns and an array of ethnic preparations. Don't forget potatoes for St. Patrick's Day.
By all means, get some of these North Shore-grown fresh potatoes!
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.