River Cottage chef endorses Sarpo potatoes

The Sarpo range of blight-resistant potatoes has been given a qualified thumbs-up by Gelf Alderson, head chef at River Cottage HQ in Devon, the restaurant, shop, events centre and cookery school set up by broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Having boiled, mashed and chipped each of five varieties, "the stand-out two were the Shona and the Axona", said Alderson. "These two would fit most needs of a commercial operation and would be the varieties I would be most interested in growing."

Shona was "one of the best chipping potatoes I've used" and "blew away any organic variety I can currently source", he added. Axona "made the best mash of the bunch - light and fluffy with really good flavour".

However, Alderson found that Kifli made "wet, gloopy and tasteless" mash and "not good" chips, though he added: "They are around the standard of about 50 per cent of the organic potatoes on the market currently."

He has since begun talking to local farmers "to see if they are interested" in growing Shona and Axona, describing them as "way above the standard of main-crop organic potatoes".

Dr David Shaw, director of the Sarvari Research Trust, which promotes the potatoes, welcomed Alderson's views. "Gelf did not test them as roasties but others have called Blue Danube the best roast potato ever," he said.

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