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New potatoes. The flavor of potatoes is influenced by the stage of development at which they are harvested. Potatoes dug while the vines are still green are termed "new potatoes", and have a special sweet flavor and texture. Because sugars are continuously being produced in the leaves and transported to the tubers, the special new potato flavor does not keep for more than a week or so after the potatoes are dug. It's better to dig small quantities of new potatoes each week than a large amount at one time.

We have new potatoes ready for creamed peas and new potatoes for the 4th of July each year. The round white variety, Superior, is the first to be ready. Red La Sodas are available a little later in July. Yellow Finn potatoes, blue potatoes and other varieties are available as new potatoes as the season progresses.

Mature potatoes. When potatoes are mature, the vines die, and the skins are said to "set". At this stage potatoes have the familiar flavor of "ripe" potatoes and the tubers will store well throughout the winter with proper care.

Storing potatoes. The process of digging potatoes causes bruises, scrapes and sometimes cuts. Freshly dug potatoes require a period of ten days to two weeks at room temperature to allow the wounds to heal. After that, they can be successfully stored for several months at temperatures between about 40 F and 50 F. High humidity is desirable, but potatoes should never be allowed to get wet. Potatoes must be stored in the dark to keep them from turning green. (Green parts of potato tubers can be toxic and should not be eaten.) Covered cardboard or wooden containers work well. Tight plastic containers may not allow the potatoes sufficient opportunity to "breathe". Do not wash or scrub potatoes until you are ready to use them. Potatoes do not store well after washing.

Potato varieties. In a meat, potatoes and gravy culture, many people don't realize that potatoes have much flavor. (That's what gravy, butter and sour cream are for.) However, some kinds of potatoes have a very nice flavor of their very own! We have selected the varieties of potatoes that we raise for flavor. Karen's long term favorite is Red La Soda. These are probably the best flavored of the red potatoes available in this country. They are also rather hard to find, because they aren't as smooth and pretty as some of the other red potatoes that are produced to catch the consumer with "eye appeal".

We raise Superior potatoes, an early round white variety with excellent flavor. Yukon Golds are good bakers with yellow flesh. For a little extra color, we have Purple Viking potatoes.

And of course, for just plain great flavor we have the fingerling variety, Rose Finn Apple. These fingerling potatoes are great in potato salad, or microwaved and served as finger food - either warm or cold.

Digging potatoes. Pick your own potatoes really means dig your own potatoes. Kids just love the process. Start with a few vines coming out of bare ground, put the shovel in the ground, and all of a sudden a handful of potatoes appear. It's a real treasure hunt.

There are a few tricks that make digging potatoes more efficient and easier. Start with the blade of the shovel straight up and down about 5 inches away from where the vines enter the ground, and push it 8 to 10 inches into the ground. Then pull back on the handle a little, and push the shovel under the potatoes. Push back and down on the handle, and the potatoes are lifted to the surface. Watch the kids scramble to find all of the buried treasure!

The Tree Farm
The Pick Your Own Vegetables Place
Cut your own Christmas Trees on December Weekends
In Northwestern Dane County, Wisconsin
8454 Highway 19
Cross Plains, WI 53528

Updated May 8, 2009

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