Friday, 20 January 2012

German Butterball Potatoes

German Butterball Potatoes
I've been hearing about these potatoes for several years, so this spring when Eagle Creek had some for sale we decided it was time to give them a try. I'm glad we did! This is an excellent potato.

German Butterballs are a late season potato, ready in 120 days or so. I have to say, ours went on and on and on - they took much longer than our Russet Burbanks to die down and I think if the weather had not started to get cold they could have gone on growing even longer.

Like the Russet Burbanks, we grew them in a raised box, and covered them with soil as they grew, in the hopes of producing a bumper crop. You can read about that process here. The German Butterballs produced 88 pounds of potatoes in the box, compared to at least 100 pounds for the same amount of Russets planted. That was, I believe, 2 kilos of seed potatoes (hard to believe it was 2 pounds, but they don't have their package size listed at the moment, and I can't find my receipt. Anybody know?) Edited: Eagle Creek have their sizes back up again, and it WAS 2 pounds (1 kilo). Amazing!

At any rate, it's hard to complain about a harvest like that, even though I did feel like there was an awful lot of dirt in the box in proportion to the amount of potato. They seemed to form potatoes at the bottom, where the original potato was planted, and at the top near the soil, but not in between, unlike the Russet Burbanks which were scattered throughout the soil.

The German Butterball plants were extremely rampant. They grew all down the sides of their growing box and pretty much engulfed the next-door blueberry bed. They had white flowers and produced more seed-balls than I have ever seen on any of the other potatoes I've grown. I've saved a few in the hopes of starting some potatoes from true seed, and seeing what I get. They are said to be disease resistant.

As for the potatoes themselves, the name is very apt. They are a roundish to slightly elongated, mid-sized potato, although somewhat variable in size. The flesh is a bright yellow, the skins are a slightly russeted beige. We are having some trouble telling them apart from the Russet Burbanks until we cut them, although in general the Russet Burbanks are larger and longer. They are compared by some people to Yukon Gold potatoes because of their colour, but I consider them a far superior potato. (Not hard. Yukon Gold have a strange, sweetish flavour that I really quite dislike.) Everyone who has eaten them around here has enthused over them, including me. They are really delicious. They are also very versatile, good for baking, boiling, mashing and frying. I'm told they store well, although that has yet to be seen.

German Butterball is described as an heirloom potato, but it is very hard to find anything about its history. Apparently it was introduced to commerce in 1988 by David Ronniger, of Ronnigers Potatoes, but I can find no further information.

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