Scroll to the bottom of this post if you’re in a hurry to get to the recipe — though I hope you’ll take your time to get to know Idaho with me!
Besides learning all about growing and harvesting potatoes in Idaho soil, gaining a huge appreciation for this amazing tuber, eating scrumptious meals highlighting different Idaho potato varieties, and hanging out with some super fun foodies — you get the best time ever!
I was thrilled to be invited on this four day trip to Eastern Idaho, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission. And because there’s so much good stuff to share with you, I plan give you the highlights of each day in a series of four posts, along with new potato recipes, too.
So off we go on day one . . .
The Idaho Potato Museum. Yep, a potato museum! Should you find yourself in Blackfoot, ID., this spot is not to be missed. (Blackfoot is very close to Idaho Falls, where two of our 4 days were spent.) Inside the walls of this historical site, we saw everything from beautiful antique potato harvesting equipment, to an entire wall of old potato mashers, to maps illustrating how the potato made its way around the world, and a bunch of other quirky potato collectables.
Who knew there was a Potato God?
Next we visited Hoff Farms — Rainbow Ranch, Idaho — which sits on about 2,000 acres. The potato farm is run by James Hoff, a fourth generation Idaho potato grower, who has been involved in his family farm since he was a young kid. You could see the passion in James’ eyes and smile as led us through the farm, and talked with us about growing and harvesting potatoes, which by the way, are one of the most versatile whole foods on the planet. With a rich family history on this land, this is a guy who loves, and has great respect for what he does.
Under just the right climate conditions (about 50 degrees F), this mammoth mountain of Red Rose potatoes “sweats” here for a few weeks before being packed. When I entered this shed, this immense and beautiful sight of potatoes, fresh from the earth, took my breath away. I mean, have you ever seen such a pile — of anything?
A bit later in the day, James showed us how to create the perfect “blooming” potato.
You can watch a video of how he did iton my friend Priscella’s blog, She’s Cookin.
We were also fortunate enough to meet James’ parents, wife and one of his two daughters — all some of the warmest, most kind people you’d ever want to meet. This special family welcomed us into their home, farm, and yes, their airplane hanger. After all, what potato farmer doesn’t also have a collection of historic airplanes, that he and his entire family fly!?
Stay tuned for day two of the Idaho Potato Harvest Tour. We’ll meet Lynn Wilcox, president of Wilcox Fresh, dig up our own spuds, check out the Wilcox sorting and packing facility, visit the Idahoan Foods processing plant, and see a cooking demo by Chefs Todd Downs and Adam Moore of Charlie Baggs Inc., making some of the best potato creations I’ve ever had.
Cool potato fact: Under just the right conditions, potatoes can last 10 to 12 months after harvest, before reaching their final destination where they’ll be sold.