In Praise of Potatoes

My breakfast included potatoes, fried with onions and peppers. Last night Cherie made a delicious potato soup as part of our Christmas supper. As we slip deeper into winter it’s easy to appreciate potatoes as possibly the ideal homesteaders food.

They’re easy to grow and easy to store–no canning, drying, pickling or freezing necessary.

This time of year our stored potatoes can start looking a little gnarly. Some look like the wrinkled heads of very old men. Others are beginning to sprout, and are starting to resemble bizarre space aliens. But they’re still delicious and nourishing, despite appearances.

We no longer depend upon potatoes to keep us alive in the winter, as many of our ancestors did, and that’s a good thing. But it is good to know that they’re down there in our basement, ready to be converted to meals whenever we need them.

So this morning I tip my cap to the humble spud. And in about three months it will be time to plant some more.


15 comments on “In Praise of Potatoes

  1. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I too have gnarly, sprouted, soft potatoes in the basement. Sixty degrees doesn’t seem to be cold enough to keep them stored in good shape. They still taste good but just aren’t as firm as they were three months ago when harvested. I’ve had in mind to scrub them up and cut them in chunks in preparation for canning. I normally cut them in chunks and boil them when I eat them any way. Now that it’s cold outside, heating up the kitchen is not a bad thing. It’s a good way to use potatoes in soups as well. I could eat soup every day. It’s my favorite thing to eat.

    It’s going to be in the middle 40s with bright sunshine every day this week. It will be perfect for getting outside and playing with those RC toys that my grandson got for Christmas. The weather is quite above average for this time of the year.

    Have a great post Christmas day.

    Nebraska Dave

    Liked by 2 people

    • valbjerke says:

      My potatoes store fine up here, but I often pressure cab them as well in the form of stew. Simply layer in a jar – potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic (whatever you like really though I don’t use soft vegetables) and meat (I usually fry the meat up but you don’t have to). Fill with broth or water, and pressure can. To eat, simply reheat and thicken the stock and season. Excellent quick, no fuss meal 😊

      Liked by 3 people

    • Bill says:

      I used to save some for seed potatoes, and they were always sprouting by the time we planted, sometimes with sprouts a foot long or more. They produced a healthy plant every time though. For the last couple of years I’ve been buying seed potatoes instead. They seem to do better than the ones I save and it’s more cost effective to buy seeds and eat the ones we raised. But if there was ever some reason we couldn’t get seed potatoes, we’d always be able to plant our soft gnarly sprouted spuds and we’d do just fine. 🙂

      I agree with you about soup. We make and eat lots of it. I enjoy it year round but a bowl of hot soup is especially good this time of year.


  2. shoreacres says:

    I join you in appreciation of the humble spud, but you’ve also reminded me of someone I met on my travels a few years ago: an East Texas police station mascot who was named Spud, because he resembled a nice, fat potato. Isn’t he cute?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think everyone enjoys potatoes, and there is such a good feeling knowing all that is waiting to be used over the course of winter.
    I had a problem with early sprouting this year. We had an extremely late cool-down and I wonder if that had anything to do with it.
    They’re all sprouting like crazy. I have to go through them weekly. Usually that doesn’t happen until February for me.


    • Bill says:

      We always plant in the spring and harvest in the summer. I’ve thought about planting later and harvesting the potatoes in the fall–so that they’d last longer into the winter before sprouting. But I don’t know if we’d be able to get seed potatoes then. Something to think about…


      • We plant an early potato variety in the high tunnel in March (dig as needed during the summer), and then plant our mid-to late season storage potatoes in late May outside when the soil can be reliably worked. Our storage potatoes are stored in the barn in a straw bale “root cellar” and that satisfies the humidity and cool temps they need. Our basement is too warm. Fedco/Moose Tubers catalog has a great Potato Variety chart that really can help sort out all the different attributes of each variety of potatoes. Production, disease resistance, texture and keeping qualities are all there. It is available online too here:

        We have absolutely fallen in love with Desiree potatoes, they are so prolific it is hard to believe, and they keep so well. We have found they keep the best grown dryland (even in the hoophouse) so we have to plan our irrigation around the potato patch.

        Like you say, potatoes are the perfect homesteader crop!


      • Bill says:

        Thanks. When I was growing up we had a special outbuilding we stored potatoes in. It’s likely that our basement is too warm too. I’m going to think about storing them somewhere else next year. By the way, I thought of you as I was going through old farm records we have. Among them is an 1878 Manual of the Subordinate Granges of the Patrons of Husbandry. 🙂


  4. Our red potato harvest was the joy of my gardening experience this year. Ours are just starting to sprout, and I was concerned because this is the first year I’ve ever had this many to store! I’m glad to know it’s normal. Yes, in praise of the potato indeed.


  5. BeeHappee says:

    This past May and June in Lithuania, we ate so many potatoes!!! (From last year’s harvest) My mom was pressuring that we HAVE to eat them up because new ones were coming in July/August. They keep theirs all year. They eat them every single day. Fried, mashed, hashed, scalloped, baked, tons of potato pancakes, potato kugel, potato dumplings, potato dish called cepelinai stuffed with meat. A meal is no meal there without potatoes. I think I gained a thousand pounds. 🙂 But in winter, still, there is no more comforting food for me than potatoes.


    • Bill says:

      You made me laugh. 🙂 One of the reasons we had potato soup last night is because, after looking at the potatoes, I suggested Cherie might want to prioritize potato recipes for a while. 🙂

      My Mama used to make fried “potato cakes” from leftover mashed potatoes. I liked eating them in biscuits. Haven’t had that in many decades now. I need to mention it to her. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh my gosh, potato cakes are our favorite Christmas morning treat after mashed potatoes for Christmas Eve dinners. My mom’s contribution to our breakfast feast, she’s been gone many years now, but I have fond memories of her frying those up so as not to waste a drop of her precious gardening and cooking effort. No doubt from being a young woman during the Depression.

        Liked by 1 person

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