New Potatoes: A Guide to Growing and Cooking

New potatoes in a bowl on a table
New potatoes in a bowl on a table

New Potatoes: A Guide to Growing and Enjoying This British Seasonal Hero

Summer’s coming and there is a certain excitement that comes with the arrival of new potatoes (or is that just me?!). These freshly harvested tubers are a true delight for food enthusiasts, and bring a unique flavour and texture that just just don’t get with store-bought varieties. Let’s explore the process of growing your own and uncover the health benefits of the humble potato.

Growing New Potatoes in Your Garden

Harvested in the early summer (May-July) they are a popular choice for gardeners looking to enjoy a reliable crop. Here are some tips for growing your own:

1. Choose the Right Variety:  Opt for early-season types such as ‘Rocket’, ‘Swift’, or ‘Charlotte’. These varieties are known for their delicious flavour and speedy growth.

2. Planting: Best grown in well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight. Plant your seed potatoes in early spring, spacing them about 12 inches apart in rows.

3. Hilling: As your potato plants grow, periodically mound soil around the base of the plants to encourage their development. This process, known as hilling, helps protect against them turning green and becoming bitter (caused by exposure to sunlight).

4. Harvesting: Dig up when they are still young and the potato tubers are small. Gently dig around the base of the plant to unearth the delicate new ones, taking care not to damage the developing tubers.

Health Benefits of New Potatoes

In addition to their wonderful flavour and versatility in the kitchen, they also have incredible health benefits.

1. Nutrient Density: A rich source of essential nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fibre. These nutrients play a crucial role in supporting immune function, heart health, gut health and digestion.

2. Low in Calories: Despite their impressive nutrient profile, new potatoes are relatively low in calories, making them a great choice for those looking to maintain a healthy weight.

3. Blood Pressure Regulation: The high potassium content may help regulate blood pressure levels, reducing the risk of hypertension.

4. Satiety: Such a funny word, but basically it means how satisfied you feel when you’ve eaten them. The fibre content of new potatoes helps promote feelings of fullness and satiety, which helps weight management and supports healthy digestion.

Ways to Enjoy New Potatoes

Now for the fun part – eating them! Once you’ve grown your own new potatoes or sourced them from a local market, there are endless ways to enjoy this seasonal hero. Here are some simple ideas:

1. Boiled New Potatoes with Butter and Herbs: Boil potatoes until tender, then toss them with melted butter and a scattering of fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, or dill.

2. Potato Salad: New potatoes are an ideal choice for potato salad, as their waxy texture holds up well to dressing. Mix boiled new potatoes with a tangy vinaigrette, chopped vegetables, and a sprinkle of crispy bacon or chopped fresh chives for a crowd-pleasing side dish.

3. Roasted New Potatoes: Toss halved potatoes with olive oil, garlic, and your favourite herbs, then roast them until golden and crispy. Serve as a simple and satisfying side dish for any meal.

In conclusion, new potatoes are a true British gem that deserves a place of honour on your summer menu. Whether you grow your own or them from a local farmer’s market, the delicate flavour and health benefits are not to be missed!