Potatoes: making gluten-free holidays great

‘Tis the season for tempting cookies, cakes and baked goods to be everywhere you look. So, whether you’re one of the estimated 18 million Americans with a gluten sensitivity or you’re steering clear of it for other reasons, it may take some extra will-power to remain gloriously gluten-free all holiday long.

As you probably know, potatoes are naturally gluten-free. In fact, they’re a veritable jackpot of affordable, endless and easy gluten-free possibilities. You can use them everywhere—appetizers, entrées and even dessert. To ensure gluten-free goodness, don’t forget to read the labels on all the other ingredients. We’ve found gluten has a habit of popping up in unlikely places—even some candy canes are laced with it.

It’s our hope a big bag of potatoes and a few great recipes will go a long way in helping you happily stick to your holiday eating plans. For us, knowing what we can and will devour helps make it easier to go without the ginger bread and forgo the fruitcake. Cheers!

Appetizer

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites

We were excited to find this treasure: bacon-wrapped potatoes. Special enough for a party, but made with everyday ingredients. Yum!

(Note: this recipe uses sour cream, and not all brands are gluten-free – check nutrition labels when shopping for ingredients)

Soup

Often, soups are thickened using flour: no good for gluten-free. Here are two guest-impressing, palette-pleasing potato-based soups.

Quick & Healthy Potato Soup

Golden Potato Soup

Dessert

A dessert like this needs no introduction. It’s just that good. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cheesecake Bars

Potatoes: celebrated in holidays around the world

Nearly ever culture across the globe has a celebration during the cold, short days of winter. These celebrations usually involve uniting family and friends, and feasting on lots of amazing food. No matter where the winter season finds you, you’ll usually find potatoes there, too.

We love trying new things, so here’s a quick round up of favorite potato dishes made around the world at holiday time.

In Russia, Christmas was banned during the Soviet era. So Russians adapted their New Year’s celebration to include many Christmas traditions. They decorate a New Year’s Tree, exchange presents, expect a visit from Grandfather Frost, and dig in to lots of traditional dishes. Mimosa Salad is one traditional dish that includes potatoes. Check it out.

In Scotland, the big winter holiday is Hogmanay—a tradition most likely inherited from the Vikings. Celebrated on December 31, the party can go on into the first couple days of January and includes customs like “first-footings” and dishes like Rumbledethumps, a delicious potato, cabbage and onion creation. Here’s a recipe to try.

Jewish people around the world celebrate Hanukkah with an absolutely delicious potato dish you’ve probably tried: latkes (in Yiddish) or livivot (in Hebrew.) Because Hanukkah is a celebration of oil—specifically the oil that burned for eight days in the holy Temple, latkes (a sort of fried potato pancake) help remind us of the miracle of oil. Here’s a great recipe that recently came to our attention.

Not quite a holiday meal, but worth checking out anyway is nikujaga, a traditional Japanese winter comfort food. It’s exactly the kind of dish your mom would serve on a cold Sunday night. Styled after British beef stew, it’s made from steak, potatoes and vegetables in a soy sauce. Learn how to make it here.

Next time you want to add a new dish to your holiday spread, try one of these!

Potatoes: perfect for any holiday dish

It’s cold. It’s snowing. It’s dark at 4 o’clock. And, we’re off to another party.

Hooray for holiday time!

Whether you’re making merry for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, you’re probably more likely to find potatoes on your plate than any other food.

It’s not just because potatoes keep well in the winter. Kale can go all season long, too, but when’s the last time you ate it on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve? If you did, we want to know.

The truth is, potatoes are one of the only vegetables that pairs perfectly with everything. Whatever you’re serving—whether it’s roast beef, duck, ham, tofurkey—well, there’s a potato for that. They’re the perfect canvas and carrier for the decadent toppings and flavors that make holidays warm and bright. Think butter, cream and cheese—yum! Finally, potatoes are versatile enough to create dishes that are simple and traditional, go way gourmet, or end up somewhere in between. It’s up to you.

We’re sure you have a handful of family favorite recipes, but here are some of ours. Enjoy! (By the way, we’re in the market for a great latke recipe. Care to share yours?)

 

Elegant New Potato Appetizer

New potatoes with crème fraiche, caviar (or bacon) and chives (Makes 24)

 

Ingredients

12 small new potatoes

1 cup cream fraiche (you can substitute sour cream with 1 tsp of lemon juice)

2 ounces black caviar or 8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Chives to garnish

 

Directions

1. Boil potatoes in a medium saucepan for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, cool under running water then refrigerate until cold.

2. Remove potatoes from fridge, cut in half, and scoop a small amount out of each. Top each side with a tablespoon of crème fraiche, a couple stems of chives and a 1/2 teaspoon of caviar (or bacon crumbles). We like to add a pinch of freshly ground pepper, too.

 

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Garlic cloves cooked along with potatoes—russets or Yukon golds—give this puree extra body and lots of flavor. Perfect beside a holiday roast.

 

Microwave-Roasted Potatoes

If you’re pressed for time and/or looking for a flavorful but low-fat recipe, this one’s for you. You can use russet, Yukon gold or small red potatoes. You decide. You can also double the recipe, just keep checking the dish for doneness.

When you don’t have all day, grab an Express Bake PotatOH!

If you’ve got a minute, keep reading. If you’re really in a rush, just click here.

With that out of the way, let’s get started. One thing we hear from a lot of new cooks—and some seasoned veterans, too—is that potatoes take a long time to prepare. But in fact, there’s almost no potato dish you can’t do faster using our Express Bake PotatOHs and your trusty friend, the microwave.

What’s a PotatOH? Well, they’re fresh potatoes. But what makes them extra special is the wrapper. We call it SavorSeal™: a genius, BPA-free wrap certified safe by the FDA designed to protect foods and preserve their fresh flavor in the microwave. PotatOHs come in three kinds of pre-washed, ready-to-cook goodness: russet, fingerling and sweet, and depending on how many servings you need, you could be eating one in just under seven minutes.

So now you have the perfect answer to a healthy weeknight side, a satisfying-but-speedy office lunch or a wholesome, hearty anytime snack. Packed with a heaping helping of endless possibility, PotatOH can be topped with anything your heart desires. We’re partial to plain, non-fat yogurt, but one guy here goes for maple syrup. Or, you can use them as a shortcut in your favorite recipes, too. To get your hands on some now, click the link and order up some PotatOH perfection.

How we grow our potatoes

Even just ten years ago, most people didn’t think all that much about how the food on our plates got there. Most of us just grabbed a fork and went to town. Times sure have changed, and we think for the better. If you’re reading this blog, you probably want to know more about how a potato is grown. And, although we’ve been working in the fields for many many summers, this is our moment in the sun. Here’s a quick low-down:

1. We use certified seed

Potatoes grow from other potatoes. That is, the part you eat is also the seed. So farmers use potatoes to grow more potatoes. Because potato plants are pretty susceptible, they’re grown from potatoes called certified seed—potatoes guaranteed to be disease-free. Usually, each “seed potato” is cut into smaller pieces and planted. But before we plant, we work on our soil a bit.

2. Preparing the fields

To get the best yield, we spend a lot of time in the early spring plowing the fields, amending the soil, and keeping eye on the temperature. We don’t want to plant if there is danger of a hard frost, which could kill all our seed. But, because potatoes take about 80-100 days to mature, we don’t want to wait too too long because the date of the first fall freeze is a bit of a gamble, too. So it’s kind of like Vegas, baby.

3. Growth Stages

Potatoes grow in 5 phases: (1) sprouts and roots emerge (2) leaves grow and begin photosynthesis (3) the plant flowers and makes new tubers (potatoes) (4) after the soil reaches about 80° F, the plant stops making new potatoes and concentrates on growing each potatoes bigger (at this critical stage, we monitor the temperature, moisture level and nutrient balance of the soil in our fields, all the time). (5) Finally, the green part of the plant dies back, the skin on the potatoes begins to thicken and it’s time to start digging.

4. Harvest

Most commercial potatoes are harvested by a special tractor called—you guessed it—a potato harvester. It has special prongs that scoop up the potatoes and some soil, too. Potatoes are moved along an apron chain conveyer belt up into the harvester, where workers separate out dirt, dried stocks, rocks and other debris. The potatoes move along the harvester, are collected in another big truck, and then driven to a storage facility. To get a better idea, watch this video.

5. Sort and Store

At the storage facility, workers again inspect and sort the crop as it is unloaded. Usually, we’ll store potatoes for a bit to help the skin on the outside to further thicken and better protect the potato. Potatoes should be stored in a dark, well-ventilated area at about 40° F.

6. Packing

After the potatoes have cured a bit, it’s time to ship them out. They’re pulled from storage and taken to a packing facility—sometimes this is done with water, sometimes it’s a job for a truck. Potato processing areas are like big “potato factories” with potatoes being conveyed up, down and all around where workers look over each potato, sort them by size and pack ‘em up. Once they’re boxed, bagged or wrapped, they’re shipped off to grocery stores where savvy buyers everywhere scoop them up and bring them home for dinner.

Growing potatoes is a full-time, year-round job. These are just the nuts and bolts. We hope you enjoyed learning about how we grow potatoes on our farms. If you have more questions, let us know.

Welcome to the new Farm Fresh Direct

Boy has it been busy around here. This time, it’s not about planting fields, building a bigger barn or tinkering with a tractor. Right now, we’re working on making a name for ourselves in cyberspace by launching our new website and blog. Not bad for a bunch of farmers, eh?

We’re excited to share what we know, how we live and how much we love what we do. Because we want you to understand where we’re coming from and why you should feel great about welcoming our potatoes at your table.

So, who is Farm Fresh Direct? We’re a partnership of multi-generational potato farmers, mostly living in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, but also in Kansas, Nebraska and Nevada, too. We banded together in 1999 to help each other grow and since then, we’ve done a lot of that.

Today, we’re one of the largest potato producers in the U.S., but growing hasn’t changed who we are. Each one of us is dedicated to providing fresh, healthy and delicious food for our families and yours, while serving as careful stewards of the land.

Watch the video to learn more about us. And then, tell us a little about yourself and what you love most about potatoes. We can’t wait to read what you have to say.