by Richard Hebda
For several years I have grown the early maturing Caribe variety for nicely formed early potatoes. Of the typical potato-shaped varieties these provide reliable early yields. Their blotchy pale purple to pink skin and typical blunt flattened form makes them attractive. In general, they have average yields, about half a kilogram per plant (with limited watering), though I have not systematically included them in our comparative heritage variety trials.
This year after digging a couple of hills and enjoying them in June, I forgot about Caribe as other varieties came on stream. Its tops dried by late July and I suspected that the yield would be mediocre and that the wireworms would get at them because of the early maturity of the tubers. Was I ever mistaken!
I finally dug up the remaining tubers in the third week of November as I prepared the bed for the following year. To my surprise I discovered closely-clustered, uniform, high-quality tubers. Most tubers were of medium to large size with few little nubbins. The skin was smooth clean and unmarked. The colour was less intense than in the late spring and the pale brown undertone showed through more strongly. And there were no wire worms – none at all among the 50 + tubers I dug up.
I thought however that having stayed in the ground so long they might have an odd texture when cooked, perhaps mealy. I was most pleasantly surprised again. I used my standard preparation technique of roasting in an open pan with a bit of olive oil. I cut them into wedges and left the skin on. Instead of turning into a mealy crumble like many bakers do, I had wonderfully firm somewhat waxy spud chunks. When you bit into them they remained firm. The texture was smooth and solid, not crumbly at all. At first, my wife and I thought they needed more roasting. However, the tubers were cooked through and there was no hard, uncooked middle. Close examination showed that the texture was somewhat crumbly but only slightly.
Caribe, when mature is firm and perhaps slightly waxy, not mushy. It is an excellent candidate for potato salads, a feature not at all mentioned in the Agriculture Canada description. Presumably Caribe has been grown for early harvest and not left in the ground until the fall.
So what a surprise! I seem to have discovered a potato that produces well, yields high-quality tubers and if left in the ground may resist wireworms and result in an excellent texture suitable for potato salads.
Give it a try and see what you think. And you know what else, it was bred in Canada in the 1960’s
Caribe is a winner!!
Check out more details at CFIA Ag Canada’a website: