Red Chinese Mulberries
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May Queen Potatoes
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May Queen potato is egg-shaped, smooth, and pastel yellow. The potato’s large size makes it easy to peel. Its soft flesh is ivory in color. The May queen has a pleasant and somewhat sweet flavor, soft in texture and off-white in color. Once cooked the May Queen potato offers a semi-floury texture and will maintain its shape fairly well.
May Queen potatoes are available in the late summer through the winter months.
The May Queen potato is botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum L. cv May Queen. This early season potato variety originated in the United Kingdom and was first known as Walker’s Seedling. Today, the May Queen potato is now a commonly found throughout Japan, especially in Nagasaki.
May Queen potatoes are low in calories. They contain more potassium a banana, are rich in vitamin C (with one medium-sized potato providing nearly half of one’s daily requirement), and, when unpeeled, are an excellent source of fiber. May Queen potatoes also contain significant amounts of iron and vitamin B6.
As a low-starch potato, May queen potatoes have a high moisture content and keep their shape beautifully, even when boiled. The May queen is also great in potato salads, and can be steamed, sautéed, or roasted to perfection. It is delicious in curries and with meat, and can even be eaten for breakfast when prepared as home fries.
The May Queen was bred in Gloucestershire, England by a Mr. Walker, and was originally called “Walker’s Seedling.” Eventually it found its way to Japan, where it is now one of the most popular potato cultivars in the country. In Assabu, a town in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, it is grown so commonly that a May queen potato is the town’s mascot.
The potato was originally cultivated between 5,000 and 1,000 BCE in the area now known as Peru and Bolivia. When the conquistadors invaded South America they brought the potato back to Europe. From Spain, potatoes spread to other European countries, and arrived in Holland by 1600. Soon after, the Dutch brought the potato to Japan. The Japanese began growing potatoes on their farms, primarily using the crop to feed their pigs. Farmers started to grow the tubers for human consumption when famines ransacked the island nation and potatoes were suddenly valued as a reliable food source. Today potatoes are commonly grown in Japan and are a regular ingredient in the country’s ubiquitous bento boxes.