Michigan potatoes are delicious autumn comfort food

Potatoes are a fall crop that can be stored and savored all season long.

There is nothing quite like enjoying a bowl of potato leek soup on a cool fall day or savoring some garlic mashed potatoes hot off the stove. Michigan produces over 730,000 tons of potatoes each year. The crop is produced in many areas of the state – from Monroe County to the Upper Peninsula. Potatoes are fat-free, rich in potassium and an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.

Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place (preferable 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) away from all fruits. Fruits give off ethylene gas, which makes other foods ripen and makes potatoes sprout. Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Fresh potato factsheet recommends that consumers avoid purchasing potatoes with sprouts and those with green tinge.

Michigan potatoes are also the Cultivate Michigan featured food of the fall season. Food service directors from PK-12 schools, colleges and hospitals are encouraged to feature the crop on their menus. In addition, the Michigan Farm-to-Institution Network is organizing a tour on October 14 to visit Cedar Valley potato farm and packing shed in Grant, Michigan. Registration for the tour is $20 per person and includes lunch.

Looking for a new recipe to try? The Michigan Ag Council recommends this recipe for Perfect Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes on their web site:

Ingredients

3 lbs of potatoes (about four large potatoes_

2/3 cup sour cream

1 Tbs butter or margarine, melted

2 Tbs butter or margarine

¼ cup milk

½ tsp paprika

2 (3 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened

¾ tsp salt

Directions:
  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan; add water to cover and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain.
  2. Peel potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are blended.
  3. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 12x8x2-inch baking dish. Bunch top of mixture with melted butter; sprinkle with paprika.
  4. Bake immediately, or cover and refrigerate. If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  5. Bake at 350 F, uncovered for 30 minutes or until hot.

For more information about Michigan Fresh foods, check out our website at www.michiganfresh.msue.msu.edu as well as our Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest posts. If you are a food serve staff member for a Michigan K-12 school, you might be interested in a free Making Michigan Recipes Work hands-on workshop in several areas of this state this fall.

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