Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Red Thumb Potatoes

Red Thumb Potatoes
We picked up Red Thumb potatoes on our visit to Pinehaven Farm a few months back. They appealed to us because we had heard they were one of the stronger coloured pink potatoes. Pinker than Alaska Sweetheart? Hm, maybe. It's hard to say, really, which means that they are not all that intense of a pink.

Red Thumb is a fingerling (ha, ha, get it? Red Thumb?) type potato. It has a bright pink skin and a fairly pink/cream two-toned interior. The flesh is dense, but much more floury than most fingerling potatoes, which in general tend to the waxy side. They are versatile; good for roasting, frying and boiling.

Most references to Red Thumb describe it as a "recent" potato, but there is really no information out there about where it came from. Even the United States Potato Board doesn't know where it was bred, or by whom. Nevertheless, it is a popular and widely available potato, with the understanding that by "widely available" I mean "not one of the 4 or 5 potatoes found in every grocery chain, and therefore you will have a very hard time finding it, but it can be done". Quite a few American seed potato suppliers carry it, and if you look for it, it can be found.

The skins of Red Thumb are smooth and thin, and come cleanly out of the soil. Their bright colour makes them easy to dig. They add a lot to the colour effect on the plate too, so it's best not to peel these. Unlike a lot of fingerling potatoes, these are said to store well. The leaves are sturdy, green with red-flushed veins, on short to medium height plants.

Maturity is said to be 80 to 90 days, or perhaps 90 to 110 days. Actually, some seed suppliers said as low as 65 days, but that would surely be for "new" potatoes, dug well before the plants are completely mature. Probably an average of 90 days to maturity is realistic.

It's hard to find much information about disease resistance, but they may be mildly susceptible to early blight, although fairly resistant to scab.

This is a variety we are considering growing this summer instead of Alaska Sweetheart.

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