27 Apr Best in season: New potatoes
Eating in season is good for you, good for your wallet and good for the planet!
I also find that familiarising yourself with what’s in season is a subtle and satisfying way of reconnecting with nature, especially if you live in a town or city. Noticing the different produce on offer will give you a greater awareness of nature’s cycles—and an enhanced appreciation of fresh, whole, delicious food.
New potatoes are in season from April until July. For many, their arrival marks the beginning of summer!
What are they?
Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants, which also includes tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.
New potatoes are simply potatoes that haven’t grown to full size. Some of their natural sugar has not yet turned to starch, which means they tend to be sweeter than their larger counterparts. One popular and well-known variety is the Jersey Royal.
Why should I eat them?
With the rise of low-carb diets, many potatoes have been kicked to the curb. However, few people know that new potatoes contain roughly 16g carbohydrate per 100g, which is less than a banana.
What’s more, eating the right sorts of carbohydrates—from fresh, whole fruits and vegetables—is an important part of a healthy diet and, unless you have severe blood-sugar issues, new potatoes can certainly be included in this. They also offer specific health benefits:
A source of B6. Pyridoxine, otherwise known as vitamin B6, is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. Of particular note is the fact that vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in the production of the hormone melatonin, and the neurotransmitter serotonin. What that means is that eating new potatoes can contribute to good sleep and a good mood .
A source of fibre. Current guidelines dictate that an adult should aim to eat at least 30g of fibre a day. In reality, most people only manage to consume about 18g. Like most whole vegetables, new potatoes are a valuable source of fibre—which helps with everything from alleviating constipation to balancing hormones .
Provide resistant starch. A new and fascinating area of research is considering the function of resistant starch in the body. Studies suggest that it provides fuel for the ‘good’ bacteria in our colon, enhancing digestion and improving absorption of vitamins and minerals . The amount of resistant starch in potatoes increases when they are cooked then cooled—so there’s every reason to whip up a healthy potato salad.
What should I look for when buying new potatoes?
Choose potatoes that are firm to the touch and blemish-free. If they’re still muddy, even better! This dirt protects them from bruising and deterioration.
Potatoes are on the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, so it’s best to buy organic if you can. Store them in a cool, dry place, and use within a few days of purchasing.
How can I prepare them?
New potatoes are brilliantly versatile and quick to cook. Some of my favourite ways to enjoy them are:
For breakfast. Boil a handful of new potatoes for 15 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly, then slice and sauté in a little butter with chopped asparagus spears. Top with salt, pepper and a poached egg or two. Delicious!
Simply roasted. Chop 750g new potatoes in half. Drizzle in coconut oil, and mix together with 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves and 2 minced garlic cloves. Roast at 200˚C for 40 minutes.
As a side salad. Chop 750g new potatoes into halves, and boil for 15 minutes. Add two handfuls of frozen peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool, then mix with one tub of fresh pesto and 3 sliced spring onions. This works brilliantly with roast chicken.
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