Jeff Cox of The Organic Cook’s Bible says that ‘real new potatoes are harvested from the plant’s trailing underground roots while the plant is still growing. They tend to be small and their skins are thin and flaky. They are prized for their fine, delicate flavor, so if you find them — usually when the first early summer crop is still weeks from harvest … nab them. I’ve never seen them sold anywhere but at the farmers’ markets and roadside stands, but they may start appearing in specialty markets.’
Sometimes, small waxy potatoes are also being termed “new potatoes”. But the fact is, new potatoes are immature potatoes harvested in the spring and early summer. In Germany, you can find new potatoes in the Pfalz, where they start reaping them up at least 2-3 weeks even before the rest of the regions would be harvesting their own new potatoes.
How can you find out if your potato is really new? By its skin - it would be flimsy, and parchment-like. The skin would be so thin, you can readily peel them off with your fingers. You need to use them within a few days after buying them, as they are perish faster.
Although new potatoes have a normal shelf life of several weeks, storage facilities are crucial. The storage area should be cool, dark, and well ventilated. Exposing the potatoes to direct sunlight can build up green areas, which would turn them bitter. And don’t forget to trim the sprouts as they might contain a mildly toxic compound called solanine. Potatoes may be kept in the high-humidity drawer of a refrigerator, but should be taken out and left in a warm place a few days before use. This is to allow the sugar to convert back to starch.
These new potatoes are much loved due to their creamy texture and high moisture content. Since they can be cooked whole, they are mostly roasted or steamed. If they are to be cooked with the skin, scrub the exterior gently. But peeled or unpeeled, they can also be enjoyed stewed, pureed, boiled, baked, fried and microwaved. New potatoes can either be teamed up with butter, salt, sour cream, curd cheese, onions, parsley, chives, paprika or oil.
Our kids top the new potatoes with butter and salt, and they have their full meal. Other cooking styles can be done and exotic spices and veggie combinations can be created too — simply experiment!
Here is a home favorite:
Steamed New Potato with Curd Cheese
a dozen new potatoes
a pinch of salt
a pot half filled with water
Add the pinch of salt in the pot and let the water boil. Then steam the freshly scrubbed new potatoes. Turn down the heat. Let cook until potatoes are soft.
For Curd Cheese:
500 g curd cheese
2 tbsp. milk
1 cup sour cream
a pinch of salt
Mix the ingredients together except the chopped chives. When done, sprinkle with the chives.
This is my first article published at PMN: Food and Cooking.