Recipes to put Cheesy Grin on growers
By Alan Barker
NOVEL recipes to help lift the potato industry and the need for communication were key messages to emerge from a Potato Revival Festival held last week.
Consumption of potatoes in British homes fell last year by an average of 20kg, reflecting high 1995/96 prices and a switch to cheaper alternatives such as rice and pasta.
In a bid to reverse that decline students at Sheffield Hallam University last week demonstrated new ways of serving potatoes as starters, main dishes and desserts.
Working in conjunction with Innovative Supply Chains and Networks in Yorkshire and Humberside and the Food Technopole (an advisory service to the food industry), the students set out to demonstrate the versatility, flexibility, nutritional value and all-round usefulness of the potato.
They first consulted Sheffield catering establishments, including hotels, pubs, hospitals and schools, then spent six weeks devising novel potato dishes.
Their efforts were widely acclaimed at last weeks festival at the uiniversity, where invited representatives from the distribution chain sampled the new dishes.
Efforts to increase consumption of potatoes must be good for the grower, especially if it leads to a greater uptake of outgrades, giving extra return to the grower, said Lincs producer, Michael Gagg of Lawns Farm, Epworth.
He suggested that World Trade talks would see commodity prices slip. As supported crops became less profitable, farmers would look to alternatives, particularly potatoes and vegetables. "We should be able to grow potatoes at around 20p/lb for the consumer, a figure which will leave a profit for everyone," he said.
Nigel Jenney, managing director of East Riding Farm Produce, stressed the need for different sectors to talk to each other to ensure they could provide what the consumer wanted.
Jane Eastham, lecturer directing the students, said there was a huge range of varieties not getting on to supermarket shelves. "It is a shame people cannot pick and choose by variety." *
Theres more to tatties than chips alone, says Michael Holmes of ISCAN (right), backer of the Potato Revival Festival at Sheffield Hallam University. A host of novel potato recipes designed to give the market a lift were displayed.
• Household consumption down 20kg last year.
• Novel dishes aim to attract extra catering interest.
• Over 40 dishes, including Cheesey Grins (mashed Desiree potatoes with vegetables); Rainbow Pots (puréed veg steamed); potato, cheddar and onion burgers; potato flapjack and rhubarb and potato crumble.