By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Did you know that a potato contains more potassium than a banana?
I picked up this nutritional gem from Sheldon Farms at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market. It came in late February, between the end of butternut squash and the beginnings of chives, when potatoes were one of the few local foods available.
The idea that a potato could out-potassium a banana amazed me. I checked it out. Sheldon Farms was right. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that an average banana packs in 422 milligrams of potassium. Potatoes do even better, scoring close to 1,000 milligrams.
“Potatoes are one of the best food values all around, said Albert Sheldon in August, when the first potatoes of 2016 were making their debut. “They’re comfort food and nutritious, to boot.”
Sheldon, 66, has farmed his entire life, and Sheldon Farms, a sixth generation family farm in Salem, NY, is known for its potatoes, although the farm produces many other crops. As Sheldon tells it, his parents met in 1946 when his father was buying seed potatoes from a man who turned out to be his father-in-law.
Sheldon clarifies the confusion over varieties – more than 100 sold in the U.S. alone – with a simple East/West distinction.
“In the Eastern part of the country, you’re likely to see an all-purpose potato,” he said. “One that is grown to be good baked, fried, and mashed.” Western potatoes, by contrast, are mainly russets, i.e, the Idaho potato, great for baking but less versatile.
Sheldon Farms has grown varieties of yellow, red, and white potatoes, along with fingerlings and Adirondack blues and reds. Sheldon likes them all admits to a special affection for yellow varieties. He’ll scoop up an armload, turn on the oven, and bake them all in a batch. For the next few days, he’ll savor them: baked initially, fried up the next night, mashed toward the end.
The first potatoes of a year’s harvest are a moment worth waiting for. Sheldon prefers to wait even longer, noting that the starches contained in stored potatoes turn into sugar over time.
Says Sheldon: “That potato on your Christmas dinner plate might be the best-tasting one of the year.”
The summer Saratoga Farmers’ Market continues at High Rock Park from 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The winter market begins Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Lincoln Baths.
Roasted Potato Fries with Herb Salt
Shared by My Saratoga Kitchen Table
*Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 4 large russet potatoes*
• 2 Tablespoons olive oil*
• ¼ cup kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons paprika
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• ½ teaspoon onion powder
• 2 teaspoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon celery seed
• ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into wedges. Pat dry. Place in a large bowl and toss with olive oil.
2. Combine all the herb salt ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss to coat.
3. Arrange potatoes evenly on sheet pan. Bake until browned and tender, 20 to 30 minutes.