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Island Sunshine Potatoes
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Island Sunshine potatoes are small to medium in size and are round to oblong in shape. The light tan to brown skin has a rough texture with coarse brown spots and patches covering the surface. There are also a few shallow to medium-set eyes found across the skin. The flesh is firm, dense, moist, and dark yellow to gold. When cooked, Island Sunshine potatoes have a sweet, mild flavor and a flaky texture.
Island Sunshine potatoes are available in the late summer through winter.
Island Sunshine potatoes, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum ‘Island Sunshine’, are members of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family, along with other popular foods such as eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. This late season variety was discovered growing in an open field and is known for its high yields, blight resistance, and excellent storage qualities. It is a rare variety found only in limited quantities today and is a favorite of organic producers in the Eastern United States and Canada.
Island Sunshine potatoes are high in potassium, vitamins B6 and C, iron, and fiber.
Island Sunshine potatoes are best suited in cooked applications such as mashing, baking, boiling, or frying. Boiling is the most popular method as Island Sunshine potatoes keep their shape beautifully after cooking. They are also commonly used to make fish and chips. Island Sunshine potatoes are also used in stews, chowders, and potato salads. They can also be boiled and mashed or baked whole as a filling side dish and served with yogurts, sour cream, and herbs. Island Sunshine potatoes pair well with meats, eggs, cheeses, chives, herbs such as thyme or parsley, and other root vegetables. They will keep for a couple of weeks when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Prince Edward Island has a long and rich history of potato farming. The tubers first came to the Canadian island by way of the British in the mid-18th century. It didn’t take long for potatoes to become one of the major crops on the island and some residents survived on a base diet of potatoes and cod for over a year. The potato industry grew to produce more than 100,000 bushels, some of which were shipped as far as the West Indies until late blight ravaged the island’s crop in 1848. Eventually, the industry recovered, and Prince Edward Island is now the number one potato producer in Canada, as well as one of the most important growers of seed potatoes internationally.
The Island Sunshine potato was discovered on Prince Edward Island by the Loo brothers, a pair of organic potato farmers. A result of an open-pollinated cross between the cultivar irene and a mystery male parent, the Loo brothers found this potato in their fields in 1984 and began producing it. Island Sunshine potatoes are difficult to find today and are available primarily in farmers markets in Canada and the Eastern United States.