Potatoes are loved by people around the world. They are extremely versatile in cooking so many ways, in all kinds of ethnic cuisine. Purple potatoes are a great way to add unique color and texture to food, adding a greater appeal and interest.
We’ll be looking at how easy it is to grow purple potatoes at home. By growing your own, you can save money on your food bill. They are easy to keep once harvested. They can also be grown in containers as well.
Purple Potato Varieties
Purple Majesty – This potato is purple inside and out, bred to be a fry potato, and does well baked or boiled. This variety has nearly twice the amount of antioxidants as others, and is an early to mid season potato.
Purple Viking – This variety has true purple skin with pinkish red marbled throughout. The inside flesh is a pure white. It excels as a mashed potato for its unique texture and taste, and also does very well in salads. It is an early season variety.
Purple Peruvian – This is a late season variety, with purple skin and flesh and many eyes on the tubers. This grows well in Northern hemisphere and does wonderfully fried or roasted.
Purple Cowhorn – A late season variety with pointed tips, dark-purple skin and dry, mealy, white flesh. Excellent resistant to common scab and late bright, however it can be low yielding.
A Crotte D’ours (Bear Poop) – Pale purple skin, white flesh, with a long kidney type shape, hence it’s nickname.
Lion’s Paw – ‘Puma Maqui’ in Spanish, this potato is known for its great flavor and unique shape. It has purple skin, with the flesh being a white cortex with a purple center.
Michigan Purple – has an attractive purple skin. This selection has high yield potential and low incidence of defects. It is a mid-season bearer.
Vitelette – Cylindrical oval shaped variety with purple skin and flesh.
The list of purple potatoes above is not an exhaustive list. There are others as well.
Potatoes can be pre-sprouted before planting, which is commonly done in Europe, but not much in the U.S. for some reason. The reasons for doing so are quicker maturity of the potatoes, heavier yields, and the development of stronger sprouts that are not broken off so easily.
Where to Buy Purple Potatoes Seed?
Seed purple potatoes can be purchased from a variety of sources. Your local nursery might have them, as well as seed companies.
When you buy your seed potatoes, it is a good idea to purchase non genetically modified versions (GMO), organic sources. These will become a food source to your family, and you want the healthiest types as possible. At the end of this post, I’ll list one recommended source.
Planting Purple Potatoes
To pre-spout seed potatoes get some flats, or open top crates and fill with potting soil. Cut the seed potatoes so each section has at least one eye. Place the cut potatoes with the seed end up, in the soil.
Place the flats in a warm (70 degree) place with medium level light. Do these a couple weeks before you plan to plant outdoors. Potatoes do best with a soil PH of 5.0 – 7.5 range.
If you prefer to plant purple potatoes directly in your garden, plant them 6-8 inches deep into your garden soil, and 12 inches apart. Cut your seed potato with a clean knife into smaller pieces about 2 inches square. Make sure this square section has at least 1 bud with it. Place your cut seed potato in the ground, with the cut side down, and the bud portion pointing upwards.
When the plant shoot is about 10 inches tall, use a shovel and mound up dirt around the plant, covering the stems about half way or so.
Planting purple potatoes can be done in the early spring. They can tolerate some light frost, but if you know a heavy frost is due, you’ll want to give them some frost protection. One easy way to do that is by using a frost protection blanket, specifically for gardening.
Keep your potato plants well watered while it is flowering, immediately after that, and during the summer season. This is when the plant is growing the tubers, and need for water is greatest.
Later in the year, the foliage will begin to turn yellow are starts dying back. Stop watering at this point. It helps them start to cure in preparation for harvesting. You will harvest them 2 or 3 weeks after this point.
To harvest your purple potatoes, choose a dry day if possible. Take a garden fork and carefully lift the potatoes up. If you have dry weather, let the potatoes cure by leaving them to lay in the dirt for 2 or 3 days. This allows for better storage, as it allows the skins to mature. If you have wet weather, let them cure unwashed in a dry covered area.
To store your purple potatoes try to find an area that is cool, dark and well ventilated. If you don’t have a root cellar, perhaps a basement would work. Ideal temperatures would be around 40°F.
You can cook purple potatoes the same way you would cook any other potato. Below you’ll find some excellent recipes to try.
Purple Potato, Mushrooms & Onions
- 6 Purple potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
- 1 T, olive oil
- 1 large red onion
- 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
Heat 1 T. olive oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms about 5 minutes, until just tender and the onions become translucent. Put into a bowl.
Heat 2 T. olive oil (in the previously used pan) and fry the purple potato wedges until browned, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the onions and mushrooms back to the pan, then add the remaining ingredients.
Purple Potato Gratin
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 2 lbs purple potatoes unpeeled and sliced thinly
- 1 cup shallot, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add the flour and cook about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until thickened. Mix in cheddar cheese, salt and pepper until fully melted, then set aside.
Sauté the shallots in olive oil until tender and caramelized, put aside in a bowl.
Brown the bacon in the same skillet, until just cooked, not crispy. Cut into smaller pieces.
Grease a shallow baking pan, and layer half the potatoes. Add the shallots, then layer the remaining purple potatoes over top. Pour the cheese gratin sauce completely over the potatoes. Top with bacon and grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
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Until next time,