Two new potato varieties just released by Oregon State University are likely to catch the eye of Oregon's processing spud industry and the gourmet market.
A red fingerling variety, AmaRosa, is likely to be popular with upscale potato specialty markets, says Solomon Yilma, an OSU potato breeder.
A small fingerling potato with smooth, deep-red skin, AmaRosa has red flesh and when sliced looks like pepperoni. The tubers retain their color even after baking, frying or cooking in the microwave oven.
"AmaRosa tubers are also loaded with high levels of antioxidants," Yilma adds. They're smaller than other potatoes and pick easily. They are resistant to scab, a harmless but unsightly bump on the skin that can render them less popular in the marketplace. "In fact, AmaRosa could become popular with organic growers because it resists both scab and tuber late blight," Yilma notes.
Another new release, Sage Russet, can help supply the need of the Oregon market for processed varieties.
The flattened, long shape of this variety makes it the right size to slice and freeze as French fries for commercial and home use. Seventy-five percent of Oregon potatoes are made into food products such as frozen shoestring fries for fast food restaurants, hash browns, and chips. Nearly 25% of all French fries exported from the United States come from Oregon, according to the Oregon Potato Commission.
"Visual defects can be a problem for the consumer, but Sage Russet has minimal internal flaws," says Yilma. "Its eyes are evenly distributed and lack distinctive 'eyebrows' – tiny scabs left by leaves." When dropped into hot oil, the fries keep their light color because of the low sugar levels in this variety.
Sage Russet is suitable to sell fresh as well, and as it was evaluated during breeding trials, it earned high scores in yields, protein content and vitamin C.