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Eye on Potatoes: Exotic little spuds come in a rainbow of colours

Exotic isn’t a term that usually comes to mind


March 27, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

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Exotic isn’t a term that usually comes to mind when discussing spuds.

But a farm in Alberta has a variety list with some pretty splashy
names, including Kip Fel Fingerling, Candy Cane and Pink Fir Apple.

Exotic isn’t a term that usually comes to mind when discussing spuds.

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But a farm in Alberta has a variety list with some pretty splashy names, including Kip Fel Fingerling, Candy Cane and Pink Fir Apple.

“Originally, we grew, packaged and sold the potatoes to food service, mainly high-end restaurants,” explains Angela Santiago, managing director of The Little Potato Company, based in Edmonton.

However, once restaurant patrons sampled the purple, pink and other brilliantly coloured, distinctively flavoured potatoes, they wanted more and the company obliged.

The company – launched almost 10 years ago by Santiago and her father – boasts that it is the only organization in Canada specializing in growing these small potatoes.

“We grow about 10 to 12 varieties on 800 to 1,000 acres in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Washington state,” she explains. Her father handles the research and growing activities, while she runs the business side of the company.

“Initially when we started to cultivate, we zeroed in on particular varieties that were really good tasting and lended themselves to growing small. At that time we still had to top-kill the plants at a certain size. However, we have new varieties that we have exclusivity on that just cannot grow big, they just grow small.”

Santiago says the firm’s staple are the yellow and red creamers, which is a size category of about 41 mm.

“We also have an all blue which is a little starchier. It takes the flavours of whatever you are seasoning it with, while the fingerlings are different with more of a nuttier flavour.’’

The wee potatoes can be baked, broiled, fried, mashed, grilled, steamed, hashed, or even freeze-dried and stored without problems for up to four years.

Unlike ordinary potatoes, they should be refrigerated to protect the thin skins, reduce shrinkage and to keep the sugar content high. “This enables us to maintain a ‘just harvested’ taste for over six months,” says Santiago.

At the supermarket, a 900 g (2 lb) bag retails for $3.49 to $3.99.

For more information on the company and its product, log on to www.littlepotatoes.com.