JUST when you think your love of potatoes could get no more intense, a new variety steps up to the plate, so to speak.
This year, I tried the French Ratte alongside six others, including old favourites international kidney, duke of York and Charlotte and was more than pleasantly surprised.
Ratte is a potato with similarities to pink fir apple and Anya but with the great advantage this ovate and tubular variety is much easier to clean.
It is not supposed to be the biggest cropper in the world but I found the yield more than acceptable and the taste and texture twin delights.
Its flesh is golden yellow and its texture firm and waxy. Another big plus is the fact it is extremely thin-skinned.
In the past, its nutty flavour has been attributed to the French soil in which it is grown but that also came through from the row I am harvesting from my rich Sandlands allotment plot.
The heirloom potato, la ratte to give it its full name, is also known as asparges and la reine, the last name appropriately translating as the queen.
We have eaten la ratte boiled, steamed, lightly mashed and as a salad potato, both hot and cold, and it is brilliantly versatile.
But what I didn’t know was it was very nearly completely lost to us potatophiles.
La ratte never experienced widespread commercial success since it was first cultivated in the late 19th century in France and Denmark.
By 1934, however, there was degeneration of the seed and then, of course, war also got in the way.
However, after a small population was discovered in the mid-Sixties, the seed was improved and it slowly returned, only in the last two decades achieving the acclaim it deserves.
It is now widely available through the seed companies and I got mine from Jubilee Nursery, Newchurch, where you can buy just a single seed potato if you just fancy one in a bucket.
Once planted, la ratte is typically ready for harvest within 120 days when the green haulm has turned brown and begun to wither.