How to Tell if Your Potato is New
Eat Seasonal Food
In our latest installment of “What’s in Season“, we mention that now is the time of year to get new potatoes. It’s also the time of year when we admonish you over what really is a “new” potato. See, for years now, we’ve been overwhelmed with the use of “new potato” to be a potato that’s small, round, waxy, and red (often the Norland varietal). That’s not a new potato. That’s a small, round, waxy, red potato. A new potato is one that’s freshly dug or newly harvested. It can be red. It can be a Norland, but it does not have to be. See, any potato can be a “new” potato if it’s freshly dug and sold soon there after. The opposite of a new potato is one “cured” for long term storage and use.
As I mentioned in What’s in Season, the way to tell a true new potato is not the color but, really, the lack of color. Curing hardens the potato’s skin. Newly harvested, the skin easily rubbed off, and just the process of getting the dirt off a new potato will cause bits of the skin to peel back. It’s those gaps that let you know it’s a new potato. See above.
I don’t know about you, but intuition suggests to me that these delicate potatoes would be sweet. Turns out the opposite, as the sugars in the tubers have not fully formed. Instead, you get a very true expression of potato flavor. Thus, you don’t really want potato salad, where the dressing dominates. Instead, think simple dishes, like steaming with a drizzle of good oil.
Luckily, the season for real new potatoes is not fleeting as farmer’s dig up different varieties of potatoes all the time. There will be new potatoes into the fall. Not later. You cannot wait too long to know what a new potato really is. At least now you can say you know what it looks like.