Oamaru is for Potatoes

Totara Estate Potato Farm

If you were to ask a New Zealander to say the first thing that comes to my mind when you say “Jersey Benne potatoes” they will almost surely say “Oamaru”. Oamaru Jersey Bennes are the quintessence of the new potato in New Zealand, famous for their exquisite taste and texture. In Oamaru there is an unofficial competition among friends to see who will produce the first Jersey Bennes, with some people going to extraordinary lengths to provide frost protection for their plants so they can go in the ground extra early.

When the first Jersey Bennes appear in the shops they are quite pricey, but people are more than willing to pay the premium to get them on their tables early. Others wait a few more weeks for the price to come a bit closer to earth. I can only imagine what people in other parts of the country must be paying for their Oamaru potatoes, but it must be a  lot, since Oamaru potato farmers seem to do quite well!

One of our favourite purveyors of Jersey Bennes is Nick Webster of Rare Earth Potatoes. His potatoes are remarkably tasty, and are a beautiful uniform colour, too. Perhaps the tarry soil of his Totara farm has something to do with it, but whatever the reason, a meal with Rare Earth potatoes is always a special treat. Have you tried them, or any Jersey Bennes?

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One Response to Oamaru is for Potatoes

  1. homepaddock says:

    A friend from the USA stayed with us for several weeks when new potatoes were in season.

    He kept putting tomato sauce (ketchup?) on them. It finally got too much for me and I said he shouldn’t be ruining the taste because he’d never get better new potatoes than North Otago’s anywhere in the world.

    He grinned and said, “But I might never get Watties tomato sauce anywhere else either.”

    We now take him a bottle of sauce whenever we visit.

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