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California New Potatoes

California New Potatoes are light-skinned potatoes that begin to arrive in May or June. They cook faster and are sweeter than Russets or Idaho Potatoes, and the tender skin is quite edible. They are fine baked, but because of their thin skin it's a good idea to wrap them in foil, piercing both the foil and the skin with a fork to release steam.

Look for unblemished white potatoes with no withering, cracking or sprouting of "eyes" store for up to 2 weeks in a cool dark, place. Greenish flesh means the potato was exposed to light too long. Just peel off the green which is bitter to taste. Refrigeration of new potatoes tends to sweeten and turn them dark when cooking.

Although most people think of small red potatoes as "new" potatoes, the terms aren't always synonymous. California potatoes dug early in the season have thin, tender, white skins. Other new potatoes are grown in Florida, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and in states in the Midwest and Northwest.

New red potatoes are harvested at the same time as the whites. They are usually a little sweeter than the whites, with a smooth skin that's a bit thicker (but edible) and flakier than the skins of regular white potatoes. They are best boiled with skins on, and can be eaten that way or peeled after cooking.

New red-skin potatoes range from the size of a golf ball to the size of a baseball. They are graded as A or B. Size B - the smaller of the two - usually costs more per pound than the larger ones.

Florida red potatoes are first shipped in April. They have a very short season, so grab them while they're available. They're at their best when fresh.

Red Bliss potatoes, which are grown in California, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, have a slightly different taste and texture than the Florida reds. The skin is flakier and the flesh is white, harder, and contains less moisture. Red Bliss potatoes are available most of the year. The spring and summer varieties go directly to the market and always have a sweeter, milder flavor. Just like white potatoes, the later fall crop of red potatoes is put into storage for shipment during the winter.

Selecting

Look for potatoes that show no sprouts from the eyes and no wrinkling on the skin. There should be no cuts or dark spots, and the potato should feel heavy in the hand for its size. Avoid potatoes with a greenish tint to the skin - they have been exposed to the light for too long and have a bitter taste. Potatoes prefer the dark and available light even at the supermarket or at home will make them develop a green tint after a few days. New white potatoes from California are especially susceptible to greening. Rub thin-skinned red potatoes gently with a sponge, peeling is not necessary, but rinse them well after peeling.

Preparing

Thin-skinned potatoes or new potatoes can be eaten skins and all; simply scrub them before cooking. Old or stored potatoes need to be scrubbed very well or peeled. Potato eyes that have started to sprout can easily be removed if you first push the sprout in with your thumb then pluck it out.

Recipes

Bette's Creamy Potato Soup

Bette's Red Potato Salad

Other recipes from Produce Pete.

   

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