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Scotland’s Taste of Summer: Ayrshire potatoes

By on June 10, 2014

Some of Scotland’s finest produce comes into season at the height of summer, writes Ginny Clark.  So make the most of these wonderful ingredients … before we head back to autumn’s soups and stews!

As soon as the calendar ticks into June, Ayrshire potatoes hit our stores. This name obviously refers to the area where they are grown – marked out by the distinctive local farming methods – but the traditional variety used is the Epicure (first early), a delicious floury spud renowned for a sweet-salty tang.

That special quality comes not only from the sea air along the Ayrshire coast, where the tatties grow in sandy soil warmed by the Gulf Stream, but also the seaweed that has long been used by farmers to fertilise the crop.

At £3.50 a kilo (from Roots and Fruits), Ayrshires are not the cheapest ‘new’ potatoes around but they are well worth that little extra. Jersey Royals and Charlottes are certainly tasty but Ayrshires take the new potato to another level. So special, some of us have been known to eat a plate of them on their own …

You could mash them – some even claim you can chip them – but Ayrshires are best scrubbed and boiled and then eaten in a melt of butter. For a great accompaniment to any barbecued fish or meat , or alongside a simple summer salad, a pile of Ayrshire potatoes, perhaps sprinkled with chives, parsley, mint or chopped spring onions, cannot be beaten. And they’re brilliant with dark greens and bacon.

Buy them as as you need them, so the Ayrshire potatoes are as fresh as possible. Try to choose a pile that are roughly the same size for regularity of cooking time. And don’t peel but scrub Ayrshires gently to remove dirt and the loosest skin (this can take 10-15 minutes, for a pot full), before placing in a pan with just enough boiling water.  Cover and simmer gently for around 15-20 minutes, until just tender. Then drain immediately – as although potatoes are rich in vitamin C, this dissolves into water if they are left to lie in it.






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