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The discovery of the unique Jersey potato in the 1800s monumentally changed the horticultural industry in Jersey. Before the Jersey Royal, a variety of different potatoes were grown on the island, but now the Jersey Royal takes over with 7,300 acres of the island being used for its farming, and 30,000-40,000 tonnes of the potatoes being exported each year!
The potato was founded by the Jersey Farmer, Hugh de la Haye in 1878. He spotted two large potatoes for sale at a local store and showed them to his guests at a dinner party later that day. The friends cut one of the huge potatoes into 16 pieces and planted the pieces on a côtil (steep sloping field) above the Bellozanne valley. The following May showed the first of a large and early crop, and the potatoes around the especially large potato cuttings were all uniquely small and kidney-shaped – the Jersey Royals were born! This extraordinary discovery meant that the potatoes were first named the ‘Jersey Royal Flukes’ before settling with just the ‘Jersey Royals’.
The Jersey soil is light and well-drained, with seaweed acting as a natural fertiliser and it is thought that this, combined with the island’s sunny climate and strong attention to traditional growing techniques, is what separates the potatoes apart from the rest. The unique potatoes are characterised by their kidney-shaped form, thin skins and creamy texture. Their incredible flavour means that there is no surprise that an average of 1,500 tonnes are exported from the island each month during peak season.
The Jersey Royal season 2020 is from March when the first batch of potatoes are harvested. The production of the potatoes is a lengthy process, with the initial planting under glass starting in November 2019. The main outdoor crop is planted in January with the harvesting taking place from March to July.
The process isn’t only long, but also can be intensive with all the potatoes planted on the fields by the côtils needing to be handpicked. The hard work doesn’t stop with pickers working up to 12 hours a day so the potatoes can reach the supermarket as fresh as possible! Mechanical harvesters can be used for the flatter fields that tend to be ready later in the year. A tremendous amount of care is taken in growing the potatoes, with farmers monitoring closely the temperature of their crop all year round in order to ensure they are protected in the lower temperatures at night time.
The are many debates about the best way to cook, prepare and eat the island’s celebrated potato. Some say that the potatoes work best simply boiled and seasoned with butter and salt. Others say that peeled, roasted and dusted in various herbs and spices is how to make the most out of the potato’s unique flavour and texture.
If you’re looking to try out a quick fix for a perfectly prepared potato, try out these simple recipes that really celebrate the divine Jersey Royal flavour.
600g washed Jersey Royal potatoes
Large bunch of finely chopped wild garlic
Boil the potatoes for 8-10 minutes until they are tender. Drain well and mix them with the remaining ingredients. Pour into a bowl and serve up!
350g Washed Jersey Royal potatoes
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1.5 Tbsp chopped dill
Heat the oven to 200C. Mix the potatoes with the oil and fennel seeds in an oven-proof tray and roast for 40 minutes until soft in the middle and crispy on the outside. Season with salt and pepper before gently stirring through the dill. Leave to wilt for a few and then serve up! This dish works well as a side with salmon.
For lots of exciting Jersey recipes suggestions visit
The Jersey Royal is a premium, branded potato and the only fresh fruit or vegetable in the United Kingdom to boast an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. The unique way in which it is grown, cultivated and harvested means that only Royals grown in Jersey can be called ‘Jersey Royal’ - if it doesn’t have a PDO it isn’t a true ‘Royal’! To try out Jersey Royals in their country of origin, book your ferry over to Jersey today.
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