Tasty reception for an Andean snack
NEW flavoursome potatoes could soon be gracing consumers plates thanks to developments at the Scottish Crop Research Institute.
Using a wild South American species, researchers led by Mike De,Maine, have produced a range of tuber types, which have been well received in initial tastings, and are said to be attracting supermarket interest.
The novelties come from Solanum phureja which is sold fried as a delicacy, "papa criolla", in parts of the Andes. Unlike the common potato, Solanum tuberosum, it does not normally produce tubers under UK conditions because it is adapted to short equatorial days. But prolonged selection and interbreeding of seedlings from the Commonwealth Potato Collection held at SCRI have allowed the researchers to create strains giving up to 60% of conventional output.
"One of the problems with it is that it tends to sprout and so doesnt store well," says Mr De,Maine. Neither does it boil particularly well – its soft flesh soon breaks down. That means it is more suited to immediate processing or being sold as a novelty punnet potato for baby roasts or salads if steamed carefully, he says. A wide range of skin and flesh colours have been developed.
Tests at Dundee University show the new potato makes good french fries and chips and also bakes well, both in conventional and microwave ovens. A survey of visitors to Jordanstone College training restaurant found most preferred the new chips to a standard frozen brand, says lecturer Frank Hoskins.
"Dalgety was very interested in the Andean potato but dropped it five years ago," says Mr De,Maine. "But we have kept it going and now have 2t of seed ready to go commercial any time."
The problem of comparatively low output could be partly overcome by growing two crops a year under polythene in the south, he believes.
Punnet potential…supermarkets are showing a keen interest in the South American novelty potato, says SCRIs Mike De, Maine.
• Andean relative of potato.
• Usually gives no tubers.
• Bred for 60% of normal yield.
• Various skin/flesh colours.
• Good taste.
• Supermarkets interested.