Alaska seed growers selected 30 potato varieties for testing at the Potato Lovers Bash.
Alaska seed growers selected 30 potato varieties for testing at the Potato Lovers Bash.

In search of the best tasting potato

Potatoes rank as one of the top five agricultural crops in Alaska. Varieties that can be grown in Alaska include many pigmented and specialty potatoes, but growers need to know which of these to produce for market and for seed stock.

Extension agents Leslie Shallcross and Julie Riley hosted the Potato Lovers Bash in Anchorage to introduce consumers to specialty potatoes and provide researchers and growers with information on the qualities consumers like — and don’t like.

Alaska seed growers selected 30 potato varieties for testing. After sampling the varieties, which were either boiled or baked, and scoring them on flavor, aroma, appearance and texture, tasters were unable to reach a consensus as to which potatoes were the best, but there were several favorites among the pigmented potatoes, including a purple variety.

As a result of the bash, potato grower Greg Kalal sold most of his seed stock for one of his specialty potatoes. Kalal says that people are “still calling and asking about Magic Myrna,” which tastes somewhat like a sweet potato and has a red and white mottled skin with a creamy, yellow flesh.

Extension plans to host a second tasting in February 2014, to compare “outside” potatoes with Alaska-grown potatoes and to expose retail sellers, producers and chefs to Alaska specialty potatoes. 

FYI ...

  • Pigmented varieties of potatoes contain beneficial antioxidants as well as significant amounts of vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6.
  • More than 100 varieties of potatoes can be grown successfully in Alaska’s subarctic conditions.
  • Not all potatoes should be prepared in the same way. Bring out the best in specialty potatoes by finding out which cooking method works best for each variety.
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