During the strangeness of this year, my brother Gary and I have been reminding ourselves every day how lucky we are to live where we do, and to work outside.
On the growing side, it’s been a pretty good year. One thing we have noticed is that we’re getting more hot summers and wet autumns, rather than wet winters, and that some potato varieties struggle a bit in the heat.
We do a few variety trials on the farm every year, always looking for something bigger and better. We do look for good disease resistance, but with Riverford the taste is always a priority. You’d think potatoes are potatoes, but there are actually quite a lot of different characteristics and I do get quite excited about them, though a lot of people don’t!
The previous Christmas dinner potato, the King Edward, needed everything to be dead right, and was always a bit of a struggle to grow organically, often growing to quite a small size. So we swapped it for Sorrento this year, which looks-wise is almost identical, with the same white-pink flesh, only it grows a little bigger. It can also stick the dry, hot weather, and it’s a really good roaster.
We’ll be eating Sorrento with our own Christmas dinner this year. My son is helping us a lot on the farm at the moment and I always want to know which varieties are cooking the best, so together we do a lot of taste tests; I love my roast potatoes. Parboil them, add butter and flour, then give them a bit of a bashing before roasting.
A little tip with Sorrento is don’t overboil them, or you’ll end up with a load of mashed potato; one minute they’re hard, then you just answer the door for a delivery and they’re overdone. The reward is worth it – they taste just as good as a King Edward, and are that little bit bigger, with really smooth, clean skin. I think anybody peeling potatoes at Christmas will be happy with that.