Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Gather Ye Rose Spuds While Ye May

Robert Herrick must be a-spinning in his grave...

Thanks to District (F)10* and a chunk of garden, we have far more potatoes than we're used to (previous years have involved growing spuds in buckets for salad potatoes or assigning a corner of garden for them. Either way they've all been devoured by mid September), so one of the tasks on my infinitely extendable list of stuff to do has been storing potatoes (I know how to party. Oh yes).

Not that you'll hear me complaining. Digging potatoes is the closest I get to feeling like a pirate. I don't mean that I drink rum while gardening (Czech dark lager actually), digging spuds is the closest I get to the feeling of digging up buried treasure!


These beauties are Blue Danube potatoes from Thomson & Morgan. They're surprisingly large, and lovely to look at. The deep purple-blue skin colour fades to less-exciting brown on cooking. Aww.
If you've got lots of spuds, you're probably best off digging them up in one go & storing them. Left in the ground they are likely to get nibbled at, or the ground will freeze solid on the day you're craving mash & onion gravy. So dig up your spuds on a dry morning, and leave out in the sun for a few hours, to give the skins a chance to harden up (and will store better). It's obvious, but I'll say it anyway, use a fork to dig up your spuds. A spade will only lead to tears, and ready sliced spuds. No matter how careful you are, you will always, always spear the biggest, bestest potato with your fork. You'll miss all the weird-shaped ones, the rotten ones (that burst when you pick them up), the ones that an industrious slug has made completely hollow**, but that perfect baking potato? Skewered through the middle like Ming the Merciless. Make sure you've dug up everything, and turn the soil over a few times with a fork. Anything left behind could end up harbouring pests & diseases.

Sort through your potatoes & any with nibbles, mysterious burrows, spongy bits, greenness, corky places or funky looking parts won't store & should be used up soon (after the funky bits have been cut away, of course. Mash or fritatta hides a multitude of sins). After all that, the actual storing part is a doddle. They just need is to be kept somewhere dark, and in something (preferably a hessian or paper sack, but an old pillowcase, T-shirt with holes sewn up or anything you can cobble together will do. Even manilla envelopes) that will let them breathe. Store them in shed or garage, anywhere dry, dark & away from frosts.

They'll need an occasional check to make sure that no slugs were bagged up with them (unless it's that Keyser Soze slug. Steer clear of that guy).

Next time - Beans!

*Otherwise known as The allotment. Our slightly bleak, windswept chunk of impenetrable clay soil. No extraterrestrials creatures or Neil Blomkamp running around, just huge, deranged hares skulking in the Oca.

**You'll be torn between hunting down the little bleeder & having a little Reservoir Dogs re-enactment with it and convincing yourself that Keyser Soze lives & is a gastropod

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