Potato – World food star

Potato scene at a farmer in Upper Bavaria, at the big potato party and at the trendsetters of Caspar Plautz at the Munich Viktualienmarkt.

On a visit to a potato region

The potato is a world star among foodstuffs. Nutritious, easy to prepare, versatile and storable. The first early potatoes are harvested in Germany starting in June. In Bavaria, the potato is then duly celebrated and year after year a queen is placed at the side of the potato. The product queen promotes the local tuber. She is the potato’s advertising pillar and has an abundance of representative appointments during her reign. The potato queen of Bavaria is no different from the queen of England.

So feiert man in Bayern den Start der neuen Kartoffelsaison. Abendfüllendes Programm der 16 Erzeugergemeinschaften, die dem Verband Bayerische Kartoffel angehören. Ein großes Fest für die scheidende und die neue Königin sowie allerlei Gerichten aus der Frühkartoffel für rund 500 Gäste / © Foto: Georg Berg
This is how Bavarians celebrate the start of the new potato season. Evening-filling program of the 16 producer groups, which belong to the federation Bavarian potato. A big party for the outgoing and the new queen as well as all kinds of dishes from the early potato for about 500 guests / © Photo: Georg Berg
Defilee der Produkthoheiten. Eine Königin kommt selten allein. Bei den Krönungsfeierlichkeiten zur Bayerischen Kartoffelkönigin machen auch Produkthoheiten wie Honig-,  Hopfen-, Wein- oder Spargelkönigin ihre Aufwartung / © Foto: Georg Berg
Defilee of the product queens. A queen rarely comes alone. At the coronation celebrations for the Bavarian Potato Queen, product queens such as the honey, hops, wine and asparagus queens also paid their respects / © Photo: Georg Berg

In with the potatoes, out with the potatoes

Paul Strixner cannot be accused of indecisiveness. You want to see how we harvest potatoes? Without further ado, farmer Strixner harnesses the harvester behind the tractor and off he goes into the potatoes. In the past, the Strixner farm, located in the Neuburg-Schrobenhausen district, supplied small supermarkets. Today, the customers are major customers from the catering industry or processing companies. The small markets no longer exist. The discounters have taken over and those who don’t look closely and don’t have an eye for regionality when shopping put potatoes from Egypt, Cyprus or Israel in their shopping cart. But that doesn’t have to be the case, because good stock from the region or potatoes from neighboring countries such as France or the Netherlands are available all year round.

Landwirt Paul Strixner auf seinem Feld mit der reifen Frühkartoffel Juwel / © Foto: Georg Berg
Farmer Paul Strixner in his field with the ripe early potato Juwel / © Photo: Georg Berg

A large part of the harvest of German potatoes goes to the processing plants. However, peeled, washed and polished potatoes lose some of their vitamins and lose flavor. According to Paul Strixner, a peeled potato loses a good 40 percent of its nutrients. The best protection for the potato is a thin layer of the soil in which it was grown.

Laurel does not make you full – better who has potato!

The Juwel is an early potato and farmer Paul Strixner can get it out of the sandy-loamy soil in his fields as early as the beginning of June. Together with his wife Andrea, he farms 20 hectares of land in the fourth generation. Mostly in three-year crop rotation of wheat, corn and potatoes. “Alexandrine clover or radish is planted as an intercrop to mulch and improve the soil,” Strixner adds. “In February, the mother potatoes are planted. These seed potatoes come directly from the pre-sprouting room to the field.” Hot, humid weather can take its toll on the potato outdoors. Then it’s susceptible to late blight, caused by a fungus that attacks the leaves.

Am laufenden Band. Der Vollernter pflügt durch die Reihen und zieht die Knollen aus der Erde. Das Grün fällt direkt wieder aufs Feld. Auf dem Vollernter findet eine erste Vorsortierung statt. Steine, Erdklumpen und die dunkleren und ausgezehrten Mutterkartoffeln werden herausgenommen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Ongoing. The harvester plows through the rows and pulls the tubers out of the ground. The green falls directly back onto the field. The first pre-sorting takes place on the harvester. Stones, clods of soil and the darker and emaciated mother potatoes are taken out / © Photo: Georg Berg

Economical use of the peeler

The potato shows how close clean eating and convenience food are. Freshly picked from the field, the potato’s career can end in the dumpling factory or as a frozen croquette, or it can still be picked up and ensnared by a peeler and served as a classic side dish. Everything is possible. However, time pressures in commercial kitchens and also consumer convenience are squeezing demand for earthy potatoes. Floury varieties are also no longer in such high demand.

Deutsche Frühkartoffeln gibt es ab Anfang Juni. Endverbraucher können dann direkt ab Hof im 5-Kilo-Sack die frischen Erdäpfel kaufen / © Foto: Georg Berg
German early potatoes are available from the beginning of June. End consumers can then buy the fresh potatoes directly from the farm in 5-kilo sacks / © Photo: Georg Berg

German early potatoes are too late for asparagus

When the asparagus season kicks into full gear, consumers with a penchant for regional products are always in a dilemma. German early potatoes are still out of the question in May. Fresh produce from Cyprus or Egypt is then on the shelves. Farmer Paul Strixner’s Juwel is still growing underground. Pre-germinated early potatoes need 90 days. At Strixner’s, harvesting can begin as early as the beginning of June because they have fields in a valley location that are spared from excessive cold during late frost.

Durch die Tallage und angrenzendem Wald sind die Kartoffelfelder von Paul Strixner gut vor späten Frösten geschützt. So ist es möglich, die Mutterkartoffeln im Februar zu legen und mit der Ernte der Frühkartoffeln ab Juni zu beginnen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Due to the valley location and adjacent forest, Paul Strixner’s potato fields are well protected from late frosts. This makes it possible to plant the mother potatoes in February and start harvesting the early potatoes in June / © Photo: Georg Berg

More and more farmers are setting up cold storage facilities to store produce from October to July. The potato experts at Caspar Plautz in Munich’s Viktualienmarkt also recommend giving stored produce a chance. Potatoes from the previous year often have a more intense flavor than fresh potatoes from the field because they have always lost water during storage.

Zartes Pflänzchen mit hübscher weißer Blüte. Die Frühkartoffel braucht gut 90 Tage bis zur Reife / © Foto: Georg Berg
Tender little plant with pretty white flower. The early potato needs a good 90 days to ripen / © Photo: Georg Berg

When Saint Stanislaus approaches, the potatoes roll out

Potatoes in Germany are harvested or even grubbed in September and October. At the Strixner Hof in Ehekirchen, the culinary potato weeks begin and the potato gets its own menu. From potato cream soup, rosemary potatoes, Reiberdatschi, potato salad to croquettes and Schupfnudel, everything can be found and is garnished on request on a heavenly plate.

Bayerische Opulenz: Allerlei von der Kartoffel. Jedes Jahr ab September gibt es auf dem Strixner Hof von Antonie Strixner-Bissinger in Ehekirchen eine eigene Kartoffel-Karte / © Foto: Georg Berg
Bavarian opulence: All kinds of potato. Every year from September, Antonie Strixner-Bissinger’s Strixner Hof in Ehekirchen has its own potato menu / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Queenie show must go on!

The outgoing potato queen Ramona I. has just finished reviewing her regent year, and Stephanie I. is already at the start. As befits her status, she is driven to the coronation in a Lamborghini into the festival hall. The sleek utility vehicle barely fits through the hall gate. During their term of office the product sovereignty will put the lining up dates back however in the passenger car. After all – so we learn from Ramona I. – the Bavarian Potato Association also feels responsible for tubers that are produced in road traffic. The royal protocol does not have to pay for the nimble potato queen herself.

Stilechter Einzug. Die Bayerische Kartoffelkönigin 2019  Stephanie I. fährt Lamborghini / © Foto: Georg Berg
Stylish entry. The Bavarian Potato Queen 2019 Stephanie I. drives Lamborghini / © Photo: Georg Berg

Click here for the report on Caspar Plautz, the hip potato snack bar at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt.

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Our accommodation costs were covered by Bayerische Kartoffel GmbH

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