New potato campaign for Cornwall
The Cornish Early new potato is about to come into season
and, for the first time, a county-wide campaign has been launched
to encourage outlets to sell it and the public to eat it.
After years of market domination by new potato imports from
Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, the Cornish Early new potato is
being put back on the map and the menu - by the farmers
that grow it in West Cornwall.
As its name suggests, the Cornish Early is the earliest new
potato to be lifted in all of Britain, and is known as a 'short
season delicacy' because it's in season for just
three weeks from the end of April. It is grown only in Cornwall,
where the mild winters enable farmers to plant the crop in
late December or early January to ensure an early harvest.
"It takes just one taste to realise the difference,"
says John Forster, farm business development adviser for Penwith.
"The Cornish Early is a real delicacy, with a rich, sweet,
distinctive taste all its own. They're also in shops
within hours of being harvested, so they couldn't be
fresher. Our message is for people just to try them, shops
to stock them, restaurants to serve them. This is genuine
local produce, which is also a real treat to eat."
According to Forster, if Cornish Earlies were enjoyed on
a larger scale this year and every year, it would create a
major opportunity for the county's farmers to expand
the market, ultimately encouraging more producers to grow
this lucrative crop and contribute to the local economy.
Point of sale material, table cards and recipe ideas are
being made available to encourage local retail and catering
outlets to support the campaign. Already major retail outlets
such as Asda, Safeway and Somerfield have committed to stocking
this seasons crop in their Cornwall stores, as well as major
wholesalers supplying trade customers. However, trade customers
are being urged to get their orders in early, as the crop
is relatively small and this may result in limited availability.
The Cornish Early can be recognised by its dust-like skin
which rubs off easily. The taste is rich and sweet, as most
of the natural sugar has yet to turn to starch. It is jam
packed with vitamins and minerals and, with less calories,
less fat, more fibre and more vitamins than either pasta or
rice, is a better source of starchy carbohydrate. The appeal
of the Cornish Early is broad, ranging from families for being
affordable, quick to cook and tasty, to the health and fitness
conscious for being low in fat and high in energy.
For a short time only, the Cornish Early will be available
in a variety of retail outlets around Cornwall and Devon from
the very end of April until approximately the 24 May.
A short season delicacy
The very earliest of the early new potatoes are lifted from
the soil of the Penwith peninsula in Western Cornwall, at
the very tip of the British Isles.
The mild winters and rich soil that characterise Penwith provide
ideal conditions for this delicate local crop. The potatoes
are planted in late December/early January and harvested at
the end of April. They are in season for only three weeks.
How to spot a Cornish Early
Penwith's tiny potatoes have a delicate, dust like skin
that can be rubbed off quickly, a rich, sweet flavour and
excellent nutritional value.
They are much sweeter than normal potatoes because they are
harvested when still premature. Within 24 hours of harvesting,
much of their natural sugar will have turned to starch.
The Cornish Early holds its own against imported new potatoes
grown by multinational companies in Cyprus, Israel and Egypt.
These potatoes are less fresh, lower in quality and more prone
to disease than the locally produced Cornish crop.
Cornish Earlies are in local shops and restaurants within
hours of being harvested. They could not be fresher.
An original not a pretender
A total of 8,536 hectares of early potato varieties was grown
in Great Britain in 2001 and consumers can expect to see supermarket
shelves laden with them year-round.
However, many of the newer varieties have had to sacrifice
texture and flavour in the name of modern convenience and
none, other than the more expensive Jersey Royal, have the
characteristic delicate skin of the Cornish Early.
The local producers
There are 23 Cornish Early producers on the Penwith peninsula. Between
them they grow around 200 acres of the crop.
This year's first Cornish Earlies crop is likely to be
around 2000 tonnes.
About the campaign
Penwith Business Centre, with support from Penwith District
Council and Cornwall Taste of the West, is driving a countywide
campaign to promote the Cornish Early new potato. The objective
is to create a demand for the potato amongst trade (restaurants
and hoteliers) and consumers, supporting the efforts of Penwith's
producers and demonstrating the potential of the market for
Cornwall Taste of the West is a £3 million Objective
One umbrella project, funded by the European Agricultural
Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), the Department for Food,
Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and private matched
funding. It is part of the Taste of the West regional food
group. Cornwall Taste of the West's four year project
includes a trade development programme and a marketing grant
scheme, available to small and medium sized food businesses
that produce, sell or process foods in Cornwall and the Isles
Store Cornish Earlies out of their packaging and in a cool,
dark, place until needed but not in the fridge.
It is best to eat them within a day of purchase, to take advantage
of their natural sweetness.
To prepare the potatoes, rub them with a damp cloth to remove
the delicate skins then boil in lightly salted water for 15
minutes or until cooked.
The potatoes can be served on their own, with just a knob
of butter and a sprig of mint, or topped with a variety of
Try adding pesto and serving with grated parmesan.
Or add low fat cottage cheese and chopped chives.
Why not make a meal of it and serve Cornish Earlies with Cornish
lamb or beef.
The British Potato Council has compiled a range of superb
quick and easy recipes using new potatoes. Visit www.potato.org.uk/newpotatoes
to find out more.
Forget pills and potions. If you are looking for the ultimate
natural supplement, look no further than the potato!
Potatoes are naturally low in fat and cholesterol-free. They
are the main vegetable source of vitamin C in the British
diet; they contain valuable amounts of vitamins B6 and B1,
folate, potassium and iron. They are also lower in calories
than pasta or rice and provide more fibre. They are an excellent
source of starchy carbohydrate, which nutritionists tell us
we should eat more of.
The super potato can even help
with the following:
Asthma - It has been shown
that asthmatics can benefit from vitamin C and magnesium -
the "breathe easy" mineral. An average portion of
potatoes provides around half the recommended daily allowance
(rda) of vitamin C and about 11 per cent of the rda of magnesium.
are likely to benefit from boosting their immune system. It
is thought that vitamin C-rich foods can also act as natural
antihistamines, decreasing airway constriction. Potatoes are
an important source of vitamin C, containing more weight for
weight than an apple.
Potatoes boiled in their skins are an excellent source of
potassium, which helps to attain optimal muscle performance
and improves the way our nerves react to stimulation. In addition,
diets that are high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce
the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
Stress An average
serving of potatoes contains around 40 per cent of the daily
recommended intake of vitamin B6, part of the group known
to boost immune cells and calm nerves. Likewise, vitamin B6
has also been found to help relieve pre-menstrual tension
because it helps break down oestrogen. Stress tends to deplete
the body's resources of certain vital vitamins and minerals,
including vitamins B6 and C and magnesium, which are all found
in potatoes. Complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, help
the brain release of the calming chemical serotonin.
Blood disorders - An average
portion of potatoes provides 20 per cent of the rda for iron.
Iron is essential for making healthy blood cells as well as
helping to fight infection.
Strokes and Heart disease
Research in the US indicates that regular consumption
of vegetables high in folate can reduce stroke risk by 20
per cent. The chances of a heart attack or of developing high
blood pressure are also smaller. Potatoes contain about 40
per cent of the folate rda.
amounts of fibre are vital to a healthy digestive system.
Potatoes are an excellent source, especially when eaten with
are high in starch, a complex carbohydrate that is the main
source of energy for the body. A serving of potatoes also
supplies 48% of the rda for thiamin (vitamin B1), essential
for the release of energy from carbohydrate foods and a component
of many enzymes in the body.
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388
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