on ainoa maailmassa tunnettu kuoreltaan kolmivärinen
peruna. DNA-testeissä siinä havaittiin
olevan kuuluisan King Edwardin perimää.
Lajike on satoisa ja jauhoisa.
AKA Purple King Edward
The only known potato with 3 colours in the skin.
Suitable for Boiling, Roasting, Chips and Mashing.
(A musician's adventures in experimental horticulture):
Age: unknown but
estimated around 1899
Background: apparently maintained single-handedly
by a shepherd, William Little, for over 50 years.
He acquired it at a horse fair in the 1940s and
it's probably local to the Yetholm area in the
Pros: unique and gorgeous three-colour skin, pretty
flowers, excellent flavour, retains much colour
Cons: flesh darkens a little on cooking
There is a reason why you probably won't have
seen any seed tubers of this variety for sale
anywhere. It's illegal to sell seed potatoes of
unregistered varieties in Europe, so obscure heritage
spuds like this one never get a look in. The solution,
ingeniously devised by Alan Romans (author of
that little green booklet about potatoes you see
in garden centres) is to sell them as ready-started
plants. Or microplants to be precise, laboratory
propagated and certified virus free. - - But they
have enabled Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy and a whole
host of other rare and interesting old varieties
to get out there into people's gardens and not
just languish in gene banks, and for that I'm
This potato really stands out
by anyone's standards. Originating (it seems)
from an area of Scotland rich in faery and Arthurian
legends and a stronghold of Scottish gypsies for
centuries, it has a unique colour combination
of velvet purple, hot pink and cream, all swirled
about in streaks and blotches like the surface
of the planet Jupiter. Some tubers feature a Jupiter-style
spot or eye in their pattern. When they're freshly
dug and newly scrubbed up they really are breathtakingly
Whether the variety originated
in the gypsy community or whether it was bred
by a local gardener, it was acquired by the Mr
Little whose name it bears at a local horse fair,
and he grew it for the next half century. Towards
the end of his life he passed a tuber to Alan
Romans whose subsequent efforts have ensured its
future survival and (through his microplants project)
availability to gardeners.
So ... it's taken me two seasons
to get from tiddly little microplant to abundant
crops of super-coloured potatoes, but it was flippin'
well worth it.
One characteristic of Yetholm
Gypsy is that it's slow to chit (sprout). But
that can be an advantage, because it means you
can leave tubers sprouting right through the summer
and sow them in successive batches to extend the
season. I don't actually know whether this is
supposed to be a maincrop or a second early or
what ... it seems to grow happily and yield well
whenever I plant it. Yields are possibly slightly
lower than a modern variety but not much, and
the tubers are on the small side with some variation
in shape, and occasional knobbly bits.
The leaves are smallish and
dark green and the plants are very lanky. I mean
very lanky. They grow bolt upright for a certain
while and look very handsome, and then they flop
over and grow leggily in all directions. So it
isn't the tidiest of potatoes. But it does have
very pretty mauve flowers, which if you're lucky
will blossom before the rest of the foliage splats
gracelessly over the floor.
The colouring in the tubers appears to be created
by a thin layer of purple-blue pigment over a
thin layer of pinky red pigment over creamy white
flesh. Some of the streaks develop in the soil
as the tuber grows. They are mostly dark blue
when first harvested, and when you wash them a
little of the dark blue rubs off and gives you
more streaks of red and white. Then as the potato
dries the colour seems to set and become permanent.
It really is a most distinctive and unusual thing.
I was fully expecting the flavour
to be insipid though. When you find something
this wacky you can't really expect it to have
a knock-out taste as well. But ... this is a very
special potato and it tastes fantastic. Under
its thickish skin the texture is on the waxy side
and very moist, and the flavour strong, sweet
and earthy. And as if that wasn't enough, it retains
its colour after cooking! That's right, you can
tuck into a blotchy purple red and white jacket
potato and it tastes as fantastic as it looks.
The colours do fade to brown if baked or roasted
for long periods, but in most circumstances it
keeps enough colour to make an impression on the
dinner plate. It's good for boiling too, although
the flesh tends to darken slightly and take on
a greenish tint, which is less aesthetically pleasing.
I had read that Yetholm Gypsy
has poor resistance to blight, and that nearly
put me off trying it. However my crops were trouble
free and even the final late summer batch was
unblighted right up to the end of September, despite
the stricken tomatoes keeling over all around
Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy
has become my joint favourite potato (along with
the modern variety Marfona). I love it.