Not all potatoes are plain old yellow; some are bright purple and blue. Here are a few varieties that will add a bit of variety to your kitchen.
Unfortunately, violet, blue and purple potato varieties are only grown by a few farmers and enthusiasts, and are rarely found in shops. However, there are a wide range of varieties that you can grow in your own garden.
Purple potato varieties
There are around 100 different purple potato plant varieties. Here are some of the most important:
- Vitolette: The ‘Vitolette’ potato is a late variety with striking, blue-white marbled flesh. It is also often called china truffle potato because of its small, elongated shape. The purple potato offers a distinctive spicy, nut flavour.
- Blue Swede: The ‘Blue Swede’ potato, also called ‘Blue Congo’, is a popular waxy variety.
- Blaue Elise: The ‘Blaue Elise’ or ‘Blue Elise’ potato, which is also called ‘Violetta’, is a waxy, high-yielding variety, with a pleasantly strong flavour.
- Blue Anneliese: The ‘Blaue Anneliese’ potato is a late, waxy variety. It has only been on the market since 2007, but is very productive and only slightly susceptible to late blight.
- St. Galler: The ‘St. Galler’ potato is a new variety, which retains its colour after cooking. It is mostly waxy and has an intense flavour.
Growing purple potatoes
Purple potatoes are often more sensitive and lower yielding than their industrially produced, yellow cousins. But they are still easy to grow, and you will be rewarded with tasty, colourful treats! In fact, with enough space, you can even grow potatoes in tubs on the balcony.
To grow purple potatoes, use soil that has a high potassium concentration – the potatoes will need it. Our potassium-rich Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost is a great choice. There is a lot to know about planting potatoes, so do acquaint yourself with some top tips and tricks before getting started!
Tip: Since potatoes suffer mainly from late blight, it is a good idea to pre-sprout potatoes indoors. This will push the harvest time forward by a few weeks, which helps avoid the onset of potato blight later in the year.
Preparing and using purple potatoes
Once you have harvested your purple potatoes, you can use them just as you would the yellow varieties. They are even divided into waxy and floury varieties, just like their yellow counterparts.
Purple potatoes are particularly popular roasted and in salads. However, they are also delicious in casseroles, soups and as jacket potatoes or chips. Be sure to cook purple potatoes with the skin on, to keep as much of their vivid colour as possible. Unfortunately, purple potatoes tend to have a shorter shelf life than the yellow varieties, but you can still store them in a cool, dark place for several weeks after harvesting. Have a read of how to store your potatoes properly.
What do purple potatoes taste like?
The taste of purple potatoes depends very much on the variety. Generally, ‘Vitolette’, ‘Blue Swede’ or ‘Anneliese’ potatoes tend to have a nutty, chestnut-like flavour.
How healthy are purple potatoes?
Given their colour, you might wonder whether purple potatoes are healthy. In fact, they derive their colour from anthocyanin pigments. These are what is known as secondary plant substances, which do not support plant growth, but are still necessary for survival.
Anthocyanins protect purple potatoes from free radicals, which are also found naturally in humans and can damage our cells. As such, purple potatoes can have positive effects on our health, combatting cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
Can purple potatoes be eaten with the skin on?
Purple and blue potatoes are no different from their yellow cousins: whether they are from your own garden, or bought from the supermarket, you can eat the skin of purple potatoes. However, if you choose to use pesticides, even organic ones, do be sure to follow the instructions so that you are safe.
Want to learn more about other potato varieties? Here are the 50 best potato varieties.