Have you noticed that potatoes have moved beyond baked, split and buttered? For some time now, potatoes have taken on a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and sizes. Many have them have always been around but just fell out of favor. Take fingerling potatoes, for instance. What are fingerling potatoes? What are fingerling potato uses? Read on to find out how to grow fingerling potatoes and other fingerling potato info.
What are Fingerling Potatoes?
Fingerlings, like most potatoes, originated in South America and were brought to Europe. European immigrants brought them to North America. They are heirloom potatoes with long, knobby finger-like shapes. Some say they look like adorable, chubby baby fingers, but some of them more resemble the gnarled fingers of a Disney witch. To each his/her own.
Regardless of how you view them, the fact is that these spuds are delicious and are featured more often with restaurant cuisine but may be found at the local grocers too. They are naturally small when mature with a thin skin and smooth, moist texture.
Fingerling Potato Info
Fingerling potatoes often come in colors such as yellow, red, and even purple. Scientists have shown that these colors are more than just pleasing to the eye. Brightly colored crops have more nutrients than their drab counterparts, so eating fingerlings will provide you with an extra helping of phytonutrients, the natural compounds found in fruits and vegetables that promote good health.
Yellow fingerlings produce carotenoids or pro-vitamin A and the red and purple varieties produce anthocyanins, which act as antioxidants and fight free radicals that, in turn, may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer benefits.
Fingerling Potato Uses
Because of their thin skins, fingerlings do not need to be peeled. They work well in any way a potato can be used, from roasted, baked, broiled, and grilled to steamed, sautéed and boiled. They complement salads, purees, soups and sauces.
How to Grow Fingerling Potatoes
If you’ve seen fingerlings at the grocers or farmer’s market, then you know that they cost more than the basic baking potato. This is no doubt because the thin skins make them less storable than other types of potatoes. No worries, you can easily grow your own. It’s no different than growing any other potato.
Some gardeners begin growing fingerling potatoes in summer for a fall harvest that can be kept throughout the winter months. This works well for folks that live in warmer regions, but for those in colder areas, plant them in early spring. They take 120 days from planting to harvest. Select disease free certified seed potatoes. There are many varieties to choose from including:
- Russian Banana
- Purple Peruvian
- Rose Finn Apple
- Swedish Peanut
- All Blue
- Princess La Ratte
Prepare a bed for your spuds that is deeply dug and free of large debris. It should be moderately fertile with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Plant the seed potatoes two weeks after the last frost free date for your area. Plant them 2-4 inches (5-10 cm.) deep, a foot (30 cm.) apart in rows that are about 30 inches (76 cm.) apart.
As the plants grow, hill up around them with soil to keep the spuds from getting green. Potatoes do best in cool, moist soil, so mulch the hills with hay or straw to keep them cool and retain moisture.