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Vildmose potatoes are small and round, about 2-3 centimeters in diameter. They have thin, smooth, golden-tan skin with a few shallow eyes, and are sold still covered in dirt to prevent bruising and preserve freshness. Note that this protective layer must be washed off prior to consumption or cooking. Vildmose potatoes have medium-firm, pale golden flesh that is fairly starchy, excreting a white waxing film when cut. Once cooked, Vildmose potatoes have a creamy texture and buttery flavor.
Vildmose potatoes are available year-round.
Vildmose Potatoes, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum, are unique to Denmark, and are ubiquitous in Danish cooking. The average Dane will consume about 73kg of potatoes each year. It is common to find pre-peeled potatoes sold in bags or jars in Danish grocery stores, and the popular Danish alcohol, Aquavit, is also distilled from potatoes.
Vildmose potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. They also contain the flavonoid, anthoxanthin, which provides some antioxidants and gives the potato its yellow color.
Vildmose potatoes are best suited for cooked applications, such as boiling, roasting, mashing, or steaming, and they should be washed before use to remove the protective dirt layer. Once cooked, they can be used in both hot and cold applications. Boiled potatoes can be chilled and used for potato salad, often served with mayonnaise, onions, and dill. A classic hot Danish side dish, which is especially popular during the holidays, consists of boiled potatoes that are caramelized in brown sugar and butter. Aside from these classic Danish potato side dishes, Vildmose potatoes can be used to make standard mashed potatoes, hash browns, purees, stews, curries, chowders, or soups. They pair well with herbs, fish, poultry, beef, pork, and other vegetables. They will keep for a few weeks when stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Vildmose potatoes should not be refrigerated.
Potatoes have always been an important crop in Denmark, so much so that they even have their own holiday every October. Historically, much of the Danish population lived as farmers, and entire families would assist in harvesting potatoes before winter. Children were taken out of school for a week to work side by side with their parents, and to this day, children enjoy a school-free week in October for the Potato Holiday, known as Kartoffelferie. Although there is less harvesting happening in modern days, there are events and activities for children to participate in to learn about potatoes, potato harvesting, and their heritage.
While the exact history of Vildmose potatoes is unknown, they are said to be native to Denmark. Potato farming is believed to have been introduced to Denmark from either England, Ireland, or the Huguenots immigrating from France. The first potato tuber in Denmark was planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in 1642, although Danish farmers did not start actively growing potatoes until almost a century later, around 1720. The climate in Denmark is well adapted for potatoes, and they were often grown on small to medium sized dairy farms in the sandy areas. Fast forward to the 21st century, potato production in Denmark usually totals over one million tons annually. About one-third of production is consumed as fresh potatoes, while more than half of Denmark’s potato harvest is processed into potato starch and flour. The remaining 10% or less is used as seed potatoes for replanting.