Aaah, autumn. The nip in the mornings and the tang of freshly turned earth in the fields. This is the time of year that our UK farmers’ maincrop potatoes are ready to be harvested, as they’ve been growing through the summer and bulking up underground. The leaves will have died off so that the plants now put their energy into firming up their skins to keep all the goodness inside.
Ideally the soil needs to be slightly moist and friable so that the potatoes get a gentle journey through the harvester. They’re scooped up out of the ground and passed over a mesh belt so that the soil falls through, then they’re dropped softly into one tonne boxes, ready to be taken to the factory.
Some are washed and packed straight away, so you’ll start to see the new season’s maincrop potatoes in stores now, often highlighted with a ‘New Season’ sticker. The skins are often a bit thinner at this time of year as they haven’t been left in the ground to fully mature.
Other crops are destined to be put into store for a while. Those are the ones that get saved in the ground that little bit longer so that their skins ‘set’ fully and they can be kept in carefully environmentally-controlled storage until we’re ready to use them later in the year.
Here’s a video showing how potatoes grow through the season
As the evenings start to draw in those healthy and satisfying potato dishes really come into their own.
We’ve got some delicious autumn recipes for you to try