Potato harvest starts ahead of Easter rush

THEY ARE seen as a classic accompaniment to seasonal dishes at this time of the year and shoppers can expect freshly picked specimens to appear on supermarket shelves this month.

Farmers harvest Jersey Royal new potatoes from Le Grand Côtil, St Catherine's Bay on Jersey. Pic: Matt Alexander/PA

For on the island of Jersey, off the coast of Normandy, the traditional harvesting season of the Jersey Royal new potato is underway. Up to a 100 pickers have been deployed by suppliers The Jersey Royal Company this week as it prepares to meet demand of the busy Easter period.

Hand planted from January onwards, the new potatoes are grown on côtils - steeply-sloping fields - that thrive in the warmer climates and sea breezes of Jersey. They are hand dug, washed, packed and delivered to England within 24 hours, and up to 1,100 tonnes of Jersey Royals can be exported daily.

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Jersey Royals are the only root vegetable to have a Protected Designation of Origin status meaning they can only be grown in Jersey.

William Church, director of sales and marketing at The Jersey Royal Company, said: “Easter is a key date for us because a lot of foodies talk about traditional spring lambs roasted and served with Jersey Royal new potatoes - equally, they go very well with seafood. At the moment we are digging up little pockets to cater for Easter consumption. The harvest is about 30 per cent lighter than we would like so it is too early to tell whether we will see a bumper crop this year, but the potato’s popularity remains undiminished.”

Recent figures shows potato consumption is falling with consumers thought to be seeking alternative sources of carbohydrates as part of meals.

Potatoes are fat free, loaded with fibre, B vitamins and potassium, and carefully cooked are a great source of energy, but when eaten as part of a meal, they tend to replace other sources of starch, such as bread or pasta, and so they are not counted towards the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.