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Kita Akari Potatoes
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Kita Akari potatoes have a brown skin and a smooth, bright yellow interior flesh. The potatoes are round to oblong in shape, and are of medium size, each weighing around 150 grams. When cooked, Kita Akari potatoes have a soft, fluffy texture and a distinctly sweet taste. Kita Akari potatoes are commonly used in home cooking, and are a popular choice for potato croquettes – a popular fried potato dish in Japan.
Kita Akari potatoes are available year-round, but have a peak season in autumn.
Kita Akari potatoes are botanically known as Solanum tuberosum. They are a versatile potato, keeping their taste whether they are baked, boiled, or used in salads. Kita Akari potatoes break up easily when cooked. In fact, because of the potato’s high starch content, the Kita Akari potato should not be boiled for more than around 12 minutes, as the potato will disintegrate. Although there are around 100 varieties of potatoes in Japan, Kita Akari potatoes remain in demand, as they can be easily prepared in a microwave oven.
Kita Akari potatoes are rich in vitamin C and carotenoids – the naturally-ocurring phytonutrients which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.
Kita Akari potatoes are typically enjoyed in simple preparations. They make excellent mashed potatoes, or may be boiled and used in potato salads, or eaten with butter. They are tasty in stews, soups and curry dishes, although care must be taken not to cook them too long as they will disintegrate. Store Kita Akari potatoes wrapped in a perforated plastic bag or paper bags, and keep them in a cool, well-ventilated place.
Potatoes have their origins in South America. They were brought to Japan by Dutch traders in 1598. Then, potatoes were largely used as ornamental plants. Cultivation of the potato as a food source in Japan only began in 1706. It was a time of political uncertainty in Japan, and potato production was encouraged, as the potato was seen as a good source of nutrients in lean times. In the early 1900s, more varieties of potatoes were imported from Europe, and played a part in staving off hunger in post-World War II Japan. However, until recently, the potato was thought of as a "Western" ingredient. It was not until the emergence of yoshoku, a field of Western-styled Japanese cuisine, that the use of the potato became widespread. Yoshoku dishes became extremely popular in the 1980s. Potato salads and potato croquettes, which Kita Akari potatoes are well-suited for, are examples of classic yoshoku dishes.
Kita Akari potatoes are a Japanese hybrid. A relatively new breed introduced in 1987, they were developed from the Japanese danshaku potato (a descendant of the Irish Cobbler heirloom potato) and the Japanese Tsunika potato. Kita Akari potatoes are grown mostly in the northern island of Hokkaido, also known as the “potato kingdom of Japan” as around 80% of Japan’s potato production occurs there. Like other potatoes, Kita Akari potatoes thrive in cool weather.