Circa 1880, French Princess La Ratte fingerlings have smooth buff-colored skin cloaking creamy golden-yellow flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor and a creamy custard texture. Russian Banana fingerlings, coming from Europe’s northwest Baltic region, have a pale yellow-brown skin and golden ivory-flesh.
Never grown your own potatoes? It’s really easy.
Growing potatoes is not hard. First, start with planting stock that is vigorous and disease-free. Shipped at the proper time for planting once the threat of spring frost has passed, they come in “sets” of miniature seed potatoes. In advance, prepare a potato patch with deeply dug and moderately fertile, slightly acidic pH soil that has not been amended with either manure or lime for at least one year (a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 will help control common soil fungus that causes potato scab). Two weeks before the last spring frost date, plant the mini tubers individually in rows that are 30 inches apart with each about 12 inches apart in the row, and 2 to 4 inches deep. As the plants grow (up to 2 feet tall with abundant darker green foliage), pull soil up around the base of the plants (called hilling) to prevent the tubers near the surface from “greening”. Potatoes grow best in soil that remains cool and evenly moist throughout the summer. Mulching with hay or straw helps to retain moisture and to protect the spud hills from summer’s scorching heat.
How do you know when to start harvesting?
Dig a few out and check out their size -- both Princess La Ratte and Russian Banana fingerlings are ready to harvest about 100 days after planting. Continue to dig them as long as possible. Once the Potato patch gets hit by a hard frost, dig them all out. You cannot over winter Potatoes outside~they would freeze and rot. But fingerlings store well once harvested. Store them in a cool, dry spot for up to a few months. One package of ten mini tubers yields one bushel of potatoes, or about 50 pounds of gorgeous, delicious, harvest-with-your-own-hands-from-your-own-garden, Fingerlings.
Easy and quick to cook, fingerlings can be steamed, lightly boiled or sautéed in butter until fork tender. They are utterly perfect roasted: toss fingerlings with equally-sized, chunk-cut asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fennel, red onions and/or baby carrots in a big bowl with a couple rounds of olive oil.
Toss onto a big roasting pan (or two), making sure that they are not overcrowded (which will cause them to steam rather than to develop roasting’s sweet tastiness and phenomenal texture). Sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, flip them all over, roast another 15 minutes and then add the crowning touch: seedless black grapes and cherry tomatoes lightly tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes -- keep an eye on them to prevent even a hint of bitter sugary char on the red onions.
It is terrific to do trays of roasted veggies like this on a Sunday afternoon: you will have them for a couple nights during the week for a comfy Thanksgiving-like feel whenever you like.
After a quick parboil, fingerlings are also a great in a grilled kabob line up, or sliced and added to composed salads since they tend to hold their shape well. Their skins never need be removed for they are rather thin, most delicious and decidedly nutritious. You may even dip little boiled Fingerlings into bubbling cheese fondue (make sure you add a good dash of fresh nutmeg).
- To see John Scheeper's seed collection click: Flowers, gourmet fruits & vegetables and aromatic herbs.
- To request a 2012 Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog, click: Request catalog.
- To look at the company's many recipes, like Mezze Restaurant’s Marinated Anchovies with Gremolata, Fingerling Potatoes and Fried Shallots, click: Recipes.
- Or, call (860) 567-6086: we will help you in any way we can!
Source: John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds
23 Tulip Drive * PO Box 638 * Bantam, CT 06750
Phone: (860) 567-6086 * Fax: (860) 567-5323
Posted by Kathy Van Mullekom; email@example.com