Maine potatoes, I grew up on a spud farm.
Did I eat a lot of rice growing up you ask? (Smiling) Ah no. The Maine potato was king for the entire country back in the 1940’s. Maine grew more potatoes than any other state in the nation. Aroostook County soil is ideally suited for raising spuds with grain and other ground cover crops put into the growing rotation. Be kind to your soil and the production yield increases while the soil lost to erosion is kept to a minimum.
What kind of Maine potatoes are find the eye, cut into seed to put back into the ground for another crop has changed with the appetite shift of the consumer.
Our family table enjoyed home grown farm raised baked potatoes on many nights to go with the meatloaf, pork chops, steak or baked chicken, whatever was on today’s meal time menu. Baked potatoes, a sliced open hot and steamy Burbank Russet scooped out to add a pad of melting butter to what you mash with your fork hard to beat. But think about all the other ways to enjoy your Maine potato.
The shift from table stock potatoes into specialty brands was the only source of agricultural viability available.
My Dad was president of the Maine Potato Council and we heard lots of table time discussions about the need to get away from monoculture farming. When you put your er… all your eggs in one big potato basket, it’s like betting the farm on only one lucky horse to win, place, show in the farming trifecta.
Today about a quarter of the Maine potatoes raised ear marked for seed use for the eastern seaboard growers.
A little under half of what’s left get sliced, diced and readied to hop in the fryolator or to ride on the large flat tin pan slide into the oven to bake and come out when the bell or buzzer announces “DINNNERRRrrrrrr” time boys and girls.
Wash your hands, Jimmy pour the milk or water please and thank you. Let’s count our blessings. Give praise to for the cook that prepared this wonderful farm to table spread. Susan, it was your turn to set the table tonight. So Jimmy and Rod can wash and stack the dishes. While the younger ones help clear the table.
The appetite is always good and the food never disappoints when you are hungry. When you earned that hunger. The Maine fresh air, wind, sun and rain or snow all help give a person valuable perspective. A constant appreciation for what’s really important in life. We keep the needs small, the list short living on a family farm in Maine.
Let’s check in with a Northern Maine potato farming video.
Nearly a quarter of the spuds raised in Maine are headed the end of their life in dark, protective potato chip bags.
That leaves only about ten percent of the Maine potatoes grown and harvested for use as fresh use in homes, served up in restaurants, for other raw product purposes. Value added, already peeled and prepared, mostly cooked and just needing a rip open the box, pull it out of the refrigerator or freezer. For the finish warming it up in the oven or quick like a bunny pop into the microwave meal time ritual. Fast food for busy lives has over taken the more satisfying slow cooked, take your time and unwind after a hectic but productive day.
The COVID19 pandemic has shaken the meal time razzle dazzle.
More people rediscovering the joy of home cooked meals that are creative, revisited from old family recipe traditions. Do you have copies of relatives known for their potato or other kinds of dishes? You know the killer recipes that everyone in the family wants them to whip up and bring to family reunions, the end of life after the funeral celebration of life exercise.
Farming Maine potatoes, anything involving crops or agriculture with live animals is a big gamble.
Maine potato farming. The weather is your biggest unknown to do your best to prepare for all that can go wrong. The markets can open or dry up with the same 180 degree reversal. Potatoes are not like dry beans that you can hold onto and peddle the next year. Like strawberries, blueberries unless frozen, go bad like cut flowers that dry out and fade away in the table top vase.
Boiled, scalloped, twice bake potatoes just a couple meal time variations to keep it anything but same old baked potato.
Each variety shines in new ways for however you approach meal time with the star attraction the Maine potato. Chowders, crock pots and shepherd pies can be in the eenie meenie miney moe along with whipped, the mix with cabbage, the rest of the New England boiled dinner creation. Corn chowder is about as simple but tasty meal time entree to consider and your potato cubes swimming around it the stove top pot just do the heavy lifting in the medley marination of flavors. More Maine potato recipe ideas. https://www.mainepotatoes.com/recipes/
With folks rediscovering the comfort of home during the COVID19 adjustment to control the spread and protect your family and community, cooking from scratch is gaining popularity.
Extra time freed up not running the roads and staying in your castle more makes slow cooked dishes even tastier. Working on the catch up with all the projects around the house as you drain the job jar, a person in Maine gets hungry. Savoring life often starts with slowing it down. The nose in the flowers to sample the scent and look around to see what the rest of the World is up to these days. You have lots of time to think on the back of a Maine farm field potato harvester.
Any true Mainer prepares and rises to the occasion whenever setbacks knock appear on your door step and you hear the knock on your door.
Maybe it’s the ever changing weather extremes or how we are raised to prepare for and expect setbacks. To not just get through them but to make them define you by actions to help out anyway you can in your small rural Maine town. Life on a farm raising potatoes, critters, other crops gives everyone valuable training for life.
The Maine potato growing up on a farm that raised them for generations is a solid staple, something comfortable for folks where I live.
The potato picking experience and worth ethic brand it leaves deep inside any one that worked in the fields or on the truck or in the spud storage house is priceless. That education and appreciation for Mother Earth and being on the potato farming chain gang with others wearing field dirt clothing over sun burnt and wind reddened skin exposure get it.
Pass the Maine potato please.
Yes, I do believe I will have another spud scoop helping or two. It’s awfully lonely sitting all by itself without that green bean casserole to keep it company. Pass that big bowl of cabbage and banana salad too could you Bub? Everything served country style where take what you need and come back for more until your hunger is gone from work on the Maine potato farm.
Looking out over the hillside landscape standing, bent over a potato basket or filling one by dragging it down on your knees.
The good Earth and it’s bounty creates a lasting appreciation for the simple agricultural way of life on a farm in Maine. Raw, windy, but the kids keep pushing along to help the farmer get the crop out of the ground by hand. Watch a potato picking field operation video underway in Sherman Maine.
Looking for a song to help the one potato, two or more put them in the basket then dump four of those into the empty barrel? To slide a ticket in the stave groove on the top to claim it with your number. Maine potato humming song for just that outdoor labor exercise.
Watch, listen the Tater Raisin’ Man video song.
Potatoes, lots of spuds, ate more than my fair share raised on a Maine farm growing up and over the years since childhood. How do you like your potato served up best and which varieties are what you ask for at the Piggly Wiggly or farm stand?
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