It’s harvest time for potatoes. For those of you who missed the previous entry about our potato growing project this year, click here to read all about it. We continue here with part 2: potato harvesting.
It begins with a glance. Just as one tries to avoid looking at roadkill while driving along the highway, a gardener tries to avert her eyes from dying potato foliage in the garden. The anticipation is too great. The promise of comfort food is too palpable to stave off the desire to investigate withering branches. “Just a little longer,” we say to ourselves, trying to keep from eyeing the mounds of soil surrounding the plants.
Then it happens – the snap, the point at which one can no longer stand it. When curiosity gets the better of us and we must see what’s going on down there. We dig, ever so gently, to reveal buried treasure nestled cozily in the earth. Careful not to bruise any of the tubers or blemish their skins, we brush away the soil like archaeologists to discover the living history of the last six months.
Fine roots connect the new potatoes to their host. For a moment we wonder if we should leave them to grow even further, but that thought quickly dashes away with the promise of dinner in the forefront of our minds. We grab the withered foliage and pull, revealing a cluster of round tubers of bright red, cream and blue. Then the fun begins. We dive in for the true scavenger hunt. There’s something about getting elbow-deep in the soil looking for any trace of a potato. How rewarding it is to uncover one after the other, to brush off the soil and place them in a basket.
Afterward, we place the potatoes on newspaper, continue to brush off loose soil and arrange them on the counter with space in between to cure for a few days. Here are a few that are being prepared for a meal.
Devotees will agree that preparing the harvest in a way that highlights the flavor of the potatoes is best kept simple. A little butter, salt, pepper and herbs are all you need to bring the flavors to light. If you haven’t tried the recipe in the July issue of the Gardenerd Gazette, hop to it and experience bliss on a plate.