Thursday 29 March 2018

Why colored potatoes are a better choice, in the garden and on your plate!

 Can you tell us about growing purple potatoes? Are they different in taste or nutrition or growing requirements than regular spuds?
Answer: Over the past decade or so, purple and other colored-flesh potatoes have become more widely available to home gardeners in the United States. They are known to be packed with more phytonutrients and disease-fighting compounds than white potatoes.
Colored-flesh potatoes get their color from pigments, which are antioxidants. Purple and rose-flesh potatoes contain the pigment anthocyanin. Yellow-coloured flesh varieties contain carotenoids. 
Health benefits from these pigments are known to improve eyesight, boost circulation, moderate the effects of diabetics, as well as have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial activity.
Purple spuds, in particular, are health powerhouses. They contain compounds that may help kill colon cancer stem cells and limit the spread of cancer, at least in the lab in Petri dishes and in mice.
About 20 years back, I tried some early purple-fleshed strains during breeding trials at Oregon State University but found them to be bitter. Since then, I think breeders have weeded bitterness out of the gene pool and produced quite a number of new varieties.
I have grown a couple purple-fleshed spud types over the past decade and have found All Blue to be my favorite. These are large, oblong potatoes with purple skin and flesh. They bake up well, dry and mealy, and they are good for mashing. I’ve even used them in potato salad, but don’t cook them too long or they fall apart. You can purchase All Blue from Territorial Seed Company. 
The other purple favorite of mine is Viking Purple. It wears purple skin but has dense white flesh. It yields a lot of large tubers, and it cooks up great for potato salad. Many nurseries and seed companies sell this variety. I
Other purple varieties I’ve not grown include Purple Majesty, an oblong, medium-season potato; Blue Tomcat, a late-maturing oblong potato with blue flesh and dark-blue skin; and Purple Pelisse, a medium-season small fingerling potato. 
I usually plant a few of last year's sprouting potatoes around St. Patrick’s Day. But this year, it was so cold and miserable, I held off. I’ll plant some in April and every month through July. 
Since All Blue is a “late season” purple variety (110 to 135 days to maturity, according to the Territorial Seed catalog), it is best to plant these in April. Purple Viking matures in 95 to 100 days, so you can put these a bit later.

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