The story of Spuds
…… Goldilocks travelling in the Maitland area, finding these Sebago potatoes, “Ah! They’re just right.”
Where the ‘ spuds ‘ Sebago potatoes are grown?
Two hours north of Sydney there is a town with 68,000 people living along the Hunter Valley River with rich fertile flood plain soils. For over 150 years the farmers have grown potatoes and pumpkins in this food bowl. Maitland once rivalled Sydney as the proposed capital
City of the State of NSW. It’s 2 hours north of Sydney and has a population of 67,478 people. Ah! We missed out on the great Hunter wine in our backyards.
Potatoes from Maitland….mmm… brushed Sebago are a treat with dark alluvial plain soil. They’re like Goldilocks spuds – just right. They make absolutely amazing chips. It is always a pleasure to see the kids cleaning the spuds and the conversation ensues about…. and when I was a kid….and when we went camping do you remember?
The Pitnacree Road Farm
The Harvest Hub May Sebago potatoes, also known as spuds in Australia, are from the Osborne family who work the
Pitnacree Road farm and are a third generation farming family having being there for one hundred years. The farm was started by their grandfather Teddy, then his son Dell and it’s now run by two twin brothers, Steve and Roger. They have been working together for over forty years. As coincidence will have it they each married the same set of twins.
They grow in this rich black soil watermelon, pumpkin, potato and lucerne. Lucerne is used as feed for animals. They produce one potato crop a year and these will be available to the end of May.
In the 70’s and 80’s this area was one of the largest potato growing regions with forty producers, now only three. Stephen and his brother Roger will be the last of their family to farm this land.
Challenges the farmer faces
Their challenges are: increased costs of maintaining the farm, high salinity of the water in the Hunter River, the weather and no succession as their children are pursuing other occupations. They have a four week window to harvest their Sebago potato crop before the large scale farms bring their crops to market.
Little known fact: On the floodplains around Bolwarra, Lorn, Largs, Woodville and across the river Pitnacree you can hear the sounds of the local Rugby League team at practice – they are known as the ‘Pumpkin Pickers‘ established in 1927. The Dalwood Wyndam Estate is one of the oldest vineyards in Australia and they have a wine and chocolate masterclasses.
Recipe for Sebago chips
- sunflower oil for frying olive oil for baking
- garlic and rosemary for flavouring
- [b]Preparation: [/b]Give the potatoes a good scrub and rinse washing off the dirt then peel. wash again taking off the starch on the surface. Place on a cutting board and cut into chips. Fry or roast them.
- [b]CHIPS FRIED[/b] – cut into chip shape then rinse off surface starch then pop them into the steamer for 5 minutes. Cool then remove moisture – pop on a tray and into the freezer to dry them off.
- The secret to great fried chips. Double fry them. First fry at a lower temperature creates an outer coating and makes the chips rigid. Let them rest and you can store them 2 to 3 days in the fridge. Then the second fry at a higher temperature to develop the golden colour.
- [b]CHIPS ROASTED[/b]: Preheat oven 180C or fan forced 160C. Prepare in the same way and have moisture free. Coat chips with oil. Pop tray in first with about 5mm of oil and heat this up. Then place chips onto baking tray and top with garlic and rosemary. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes turning chips.