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Vitelotte potatoes are small and elongated, similar to that of fingerling potatoes, and is cylindrical with irregular lumps. Its exterior skin ranges from dark purple to a deep violet-blue and is speckled with deep-set eyes. Underneath the dark purple exterior lies a smooth, deep violet flesh that is occasionally marbled with white. When cooked, the Vitelotte retains its vibrant purple hue and offers a dry, floury flesh with nuances of chestnuts.
Vitelotte potatoes are available year-round.
The Vitelotte potato, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum ‘Vitelotte’, is a purple-hued potato variety known for its vibrant purple both on its exterior skin and interior flesh. Also known as Truffe de Chine, Négresse, Vitelotte Noir, Black Truffle or Purple potato, the Vitelotte potato has seen a boom in popularity as a result of research and marketing dedicated to promoting the nutritional properties of purple-hued fruits and vegetables.
Vitelotte potatoes contain vitamin C, iron, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, riboflavin, phytochemicals, and anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant.
Vitelotte potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, steaming, baking, and frying. Used on their own or along with other potatoes, they make for an excellent potato mash. Unlike some other purple-hued vegetables, Vitelotte potatoes will retain their purple color even when cooked. Showcase their vibrant hue in potato salads or a roast of tubers. Vitelotte potatoes can be cooked and pureed to make purple-hued soups and sauces or fried to make purple chips and crisps. Their dry texture makes them ideal for use as well when making potato pancakes and gnocchi. Their flavor, color, and texture pairs well with garlic, beets, watercress, parsley, cherry tomatoes, avocado, crème fresh, olive oil, pancetta, white pepper, blue cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Vitelotte potatoes will keep up to 3 weeks when stored in a cool, dark place away from moisture and refrigeration.
An early form of the Vitelotte potato is illustrated and mentioned under the name Négresse potato in Vilmorin-Andrieux’s 1905 book entitled The Vegetable Garden. As the potato gained popularity in 17th century France as a valuable food source, the royal court showed their approval by wearing the flowers of the tuber. Louis XVI wore the potato flower in his buttonhole, and Marie Antoinette was known to wear potato flowers in her curls and as part of a headdress when attending balls.
Before receiving the name, Vitelotte potato, these vibrant purple tubers are believed to have originated in ancient Peru nearly 800 years ago. Their introduction to France is said to have occurred in the 19th century when they were also known as Vitelotte Noir and Négresse potato. Potatoes fist gained popularity in France in the 17th and 18th century after the Seven Years War when there was a need for a food source to help reduce post-war famine. Louis XVI granted Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a botanist and potato cultivator, several acres of land outside of Paris to grow potatoes and once planted he kept the farm heavily guarded. This created a stir in the community as to what valuable crops might be planted there. Strategically one night he left the farm unguarded and just as he suspected local farmers came and stole the plants and began growing them on their farms. Not long after, the potato became accepted as a food source in France and rose to achieve royal approval. Today, Vitelotte potatoes are grown predominately in France and the United Kingdom and can also be found in specialty grocers and farmers markets throughout Europe.