After a disappointing harvest of my early potatoes this year I decided to leave some of my main crop spuds in for as long as the damp autumn weather would permit. Blight had invaded my tomato patch nearby but I thought it was worth the risk for potentially bigger and better spuds. Worth it, it was and I filled buckets-full of Peruvian Purples and red skinned Sarpo Mira’s on a beautifully crisp sunny Saturday morning a couple of weekends ago.
I’d been excited but sceptical about promises of Peruvian Purples retaining their colour after cooking. I even cut one open to check just how purple the flesh inside was. The purple pigment in the the skin of my Gloucester Black Kidney potatoes disappointingly leached entirely when steamed. Could I really hope for more from the Peruvians?
Peruvian purples are fingerling potatoes so I expected them to be firm like Anya or Pink Fur Apples. They’re actually rather floury and faded to a lighter shade of lilac just beneath the skin where the flesh was more mushy. I’ve yet to mash them and when I do I’ll be liberal with the butter as they’re quite dry on their own. Potato salad is a good choice for Peruvian Purples: it looks striking and they’re not-particularly-outstanding flavour is forgiven when paired with my favourite whole grain mustard and red onion mayonnaise mix. I opted for a 50:50 blend of floury Peruvian Purples and firm white Nicola salad potatoes. It was a surprise hit at a shared lunch recently once I’d assured people I wasn’t trying to trick them into eating beetroot!
Purple potatoes hit the headlines this week because for the first time in Britain a purple variety will go on sale in the supermarket. Purple Majesty potatoes, grown in Scotland, are being hailed as ‘the healthy potato‘ because of the high levels of Anthocyanin antioxidants found in purple foods (said to protect against cell damage and nourish blood). I’ve no doubt culinary curiosity will bring new customers through the checkout at Sainsburys. I just wonder how much they’re going to charge!