Oily Rag potatoes

Potatoes are thought to date back about 2500 years and been a staple part of the diet of many civilisations for centuries. Fortunately modern households are less dependant on spuds than once was the case so a potato crop failure in your back garden is not likely to have the dire rebellious consequences of old.

There are endless ways to serve potatoes: baked, boiled, in soups, creamed, as dumplings, fried, roasted, mashed, in salads, in casseroles, or stuffed. In fact there are so many ways to cook potatoes that the family feasting off the smell of an oily rag could have a different and delicious potato dinner every night of the week for months on end.

Unfortunately the retail price of this staple has been on the rise recently. Apparently potato supplies have been affected by disease, and that contributed to the normally frugal potato price rising 11.4% in January. That’s another reason why those living off the smell of an oily rag should be growing their own!

Many oily rag gardeners would have already harvested their crop or are about to do so . Planting of early varieties start from July/August, so it’s something to think about for the other side of winter. They are easy to grow in a bucket or containers, or a tyre ring.

The potato industry has gathered together a lot of information about our humble friend and our relationship with it. Here are some snippets of information published it on their website www.potatoes.co.nz:

·        93% of households cooked potatoes at least once a week, 83% at least 2 times per week, and 44% at least 4 times per week. In other words, it’s still a basic part of our diet.The majority of people mash, roast, or boil their spuds.

·        Most people buy their spuds as a 4kg and 5kg bag.

·        In the past year the average NZ household purchased frozen potatoes products 9 times.

·        Households spent three times more on fresh or frozen potatoes than any other substitute (i.e. rice, pasta or kumara), and for every $1 spent on rice, pasta and kumara combined, $1.15 was spent on fresh and frozen potato products.

·        ·A large number of people (43%) shopped at fruit & vegetable specialist stores for fresh potatoes, but supermarkets commanded the vast majority of sales, 82%.

·        People bought from supermarkets because of convenient location and everything being in one place. They bought from fruit & vegetable specialist stores because of the low price, freshness, and quality.

Because oily raggers use lots of potatoes, they tend to have lots to say about growing and cooking. Here are a couple of suggestions.

  •  KW from Auckland has a favourite potato recipe to share with others. You need 6 large potato, 1 pkt cream of chicken soup mix, 250 gr sour cream, 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup chopped spring onions, and Salt and Pepper to taste. Partly cook then grate potatoes. Combine butter, soup, milk, sour cream, onions and grated cheese. Combine with seasonings and potatoes. Pile into lightly greased pie dish, top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and a little more grated cheese and bake for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees.
  • Lil from Whangarei writes, “If I am need to bake potatoes fast I precook then in boiling water for about 10 or 15 minutes. I coat them with cooking oil before placing on a roasting dish. It reduces the baking time to less than ten minutes. Another trick is to put a metal skewer through the potato. The skewer acts as a heat conductor that delivers heat to the centre of the potato.”