Farm Day in the City is just around the corner and we’re beyond delighted to welcome Prince Edward Island Potato Growers back as our presenting sponsor. Do you ‘dig’ PEI potatoes as much as we do?! We thought you’d say ‘yes’, so with the help of our potato friends, we put together a list of answers to all the burning questions you’ve ever had about PEI potatoes (you’re welcome!).
Growing potatoes has been a way of life for PEI farmers since 1790. That’s right, the Island’s got over 200 years of experience growing spuds, with each generation passing down valuable knowledge to the next. That explains why today’s PEI potatoes are perfect!
PEI’s red, iron-rich soil is perfectly suited for potatoes as it retains just the right amount of moisture during the growing season. Warm summers, cold winters, and adequate rainfall result in just the right balance of heat, light, and water to maximize yields and tuber quality.
Additionally, being an island provides a distinct advantage for growing high-quality potatoes as the ocean acts as a natural barrier against airborne and insect-borne diseases.
Approximately 2.5 BILLION pounds of potatoes are harvested and shipped to destinations around the country and beyond. In fact, PEI produces more potatoes for Canada than any other province, despite being the smallest in size.
PEI has the highest adoption rate in Canada for completion of Enhanced Environmental Farm Plans. This planning helps farmers develop practical farm operation plans in a way that is environmentally sustainable, socially acceptable, and economically viable. The potato industry also works in partnership with the provincial government to educate growers on best management practices, including managing pests responsibly, improving soil fertility, eliminating soil erosion, and improving plant health.
You can find PEI potatoes across The Great White North (aka Canada), of course, but PEI seed and table potatoes are also shipped to over 20 countries around the world including the United States, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, Italy, Thailand, and others.
A favourite for their versatility, Russet potatoes are medium to large in size and oval or oblong in shape. They are ideal for French fries, mashed potatoes, dry baked potatoes, and scalloped potatoes. Popular varieties of russets include Goldrush, Ranger Russet and Russet Norkotah.
Research has shown that potatoes can help improve children’s overall diet quality and intake, as well as potentially help promote satiety and caloric intake. Loaded with potassium, fibre, complex carbohydrates, and other nutrients, potatoes are ideal for infants starting solid foods and toddlers as an essential part of a healthy diet.
Store your PEI potatoes in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator. The best place is a dark, well-ventilated area at temperatures between 7-10°C . Your kitchen cupboard could be too warm and will cause the potatoes to sprout, shrivel, or lose nutrients and moisture. An outside wall, dark closet or the basement are good for potato storage. Be sure to avoid storing onions and potatoes together, it will speed up the deterioration of both. Also, if you purchase potatoes in a plastic bag, transfer them to a heavy paper bag to protect them from light and prevent greening, plus to let them breathe.
First, start with new white PEI potatoes for the creamiest texture. Instead of dairy, you can use olive oil, a broth, or full-flavoured, fat-free ingredients like wasabi or chilies to finish off the dish.
First, slice into even medium-size pieces to allow for them to cook consistently. Try boiling them first until just getting soft and then allow for them to dry (use a paper towel to remove moisture) as this will allow for a crispy exterior and soft and fluffy interior when fried. Use enough oil to ensure the spuds don’t stick to the hot pan or skillet. Or finish them in the oven with some cooking spray for a ‘skinny fry’ option.
The potato is SO versatile, there are almost infinite ways you can prepare it in the kitchen. A favourite amongst Islanders that want to wow visitors is PEI potato chocolate cake. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly main, you can’t go wrong with a potato pizza, or for something a little fancier, try Sichuan Style PEI Potato Roses. The PEI Potato Growers have an extensive collection of recipes to satisfy your potato cravings at every meal and during every season.
If you’ve got more questions about the humble spud that has made PEI famous internationally, the PEI Potato Growers have loads more information on their website OR you can head to Farm Day in the City on Oct 6th, 2019 to meet and speak with some of our Island’s potato growers in person!