Ayrshire New Potatoes have a relatively low dry matter of up to 20%. The dry matter will vary depending on variety, maturity and the season. The Ayrshire New Potatoes potato has the following characteristics: It is small in size, 15 – 70mm diameter, due to the young age. The potato is round or oval in shape with a soft skin and distinctive strong earthy nutty flavour and aroma. It has a creamy, firm texture as a result of a low starch content of 10-15%. The starch range will be determined by varietal and seasonal variances. The colour of the flesh varies between white and cream, determined by the variety, and will be consistent throughout the potato.
The traditional season for Early Ayrshire is May to July, since the land is warm enough for planting from early February
New potatoes can make a significant contribution to meeting daily vitamin C requirements. A large portion (220g) of boiled new potatoes provide just over 80% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. New potatoes also contribute to intakes of folate, vitamin B1 and B6, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, as well as beneficial phytochemicals and fibre.
Classically the less you do to an Early Ayrshire the better. Rinse. Steam or boil until just soft. Never peel. Do not mash although some chefs ‘crush’ them roughly for effect. Serve with high quality butter and a little salt. Also delicious cooked and cold in salads. If adding a dressing, also delicious, best to add the ingredients when the potatoes are still warm for maximum effect. A traditional potato salad may have sour cream or mayonnaise and spring onions, or a vinaigrette dressing with seasonal herbs added.
The region of Ayrshire in the West of Scotland within the geographic Local Authority boundaries of North, East and South Ayrshire Councils. The county of Ayrshire is bordered on the west side by the Firth of Clyde and extends from the coastal locations of Skelmorlie in the north to Ballantrae in the south, and to Glenbuck in the east. The county also includes the Isle of Arran and the Cumbrae Isles. The geographical area is indicated on the following maps below.
Ayrshire has been at the heart of the Scottish (and indeed UK) potato industry since the cultivation of the crop was first reported in Scotland in a commercial basis in 1793. The area provides the first commercially produced potatoes of the year grown in Scotland and ‘Ayrshire New Potatoes’ / ‘Ayrshire Earlies’ are renowned across the country for their quality, flavour, and as a symbol of the new season. In historical and current press coverage, and other publications this product has also been known as “South West Earlies” and “Early Ayrshires”. The production of ‘Ayrshire New Potatoes’ / ‘Ayrshire Earlies’ in Ayrshire was a source of employment for a large proportion of the population in the West of Scotland, including local people and many migrant workers usually from Ireland known as “tattie howkers”. Traditionally, seaweed, a nutrient-rich material widely available along the coastal region of Ayrshire, was collected (a process known as “wrecking”) and spread on fields in the winter as a fertiliser. Manure was also used from the livestock for which the area is known. ‘Ayrshire New Potatoes’ / ‘Ayrshire Earlies’ were planted by hand and harvested using a “graip”, the traditional Scottish word for “fork”.