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Three random things I learned, or remembered, today

Ayrshire potatoes



All summer I have been yearning for a plate of tiny Ayrshire potatoes smothered in butter.

Nothing else.

Or maybe with some mince.

Mince and potatoes.

I have been yearning for this dish of my childhood for many, many summers now.

I loved Ayrshire potatoes so much, that I would buy myself a little plot of land in Ayrshire so I could plant my potatoes in the sandy soil and nourish them with seaweed, so that my children could taste the wonderful flavour.

They have never tasted proper Ayrshire potatoes.

Oh, I know, there are Ayrshire potatoes in Scotland in early summer. But they are not the ones they used to be.

They are too big. They do not have the Ayrshire flavour.

Doubtless these “New Age” Ayrshires are grown there.  But that’s all.

Are they forced? Have they changed the variety? Are they not using seaweed any more?

Most people who grow and sell these modern “Ayrshire potatoes” are too young to remember the “Real Ayrshires”

If there’s an old farmer out there who was born a very long time ago and used to grow the “real” Ayrshire potatoes, please let me know the secret.






  louise lacaze wrote @

I’m looking to buy some Ayrshire potatoes I had as a child…really floury with darkish skin which broke apart when cooked! Can still taste them and want to have them again!!!
Have you had any luck??


  Grant Morrison wrote @

I fully agree. I haven’t tasted a ‘proper’ Ayrshire spud since the late ’70s / early ’80s. I don’t think seaweed or sand is the answer, cos my dad grew some delicious ones from seed in our Glasgow back garden (just normal earth) in the ’70s. What would I give for a steaming plate of New Ayrshires today, smothered in proper dairy butter ?

  Ann wrote @

I have been searching the web for seed Ayrshires to plant but I’ve failed miserably. I would be interested if anyone else has found a supplier.

If no-one knows of an Ayrshire seed potato supplier, does anyone know where I can buy Ayrshires already grown?

No other potato come anywhere close for flavour.

Yours in eager anticipation

  Tom wrote @

The secret to ayrshires is simple.
The seed potatoe is Epicure.
The genuine ones are still grown around the Girvan coast, in fact this is where they origionate, but nowadays anything grown in Ayrshire (and sometimes out of it) is being classified as “Ayrshires” which they are clearly not. If you want to purchase the real thing you need to head to Girvan between june & july latest.
If you wish to grow them yourself you need sandy soil, then around Sept. turn the soil over and lay FRESH seaweed, prefrably ‘Red kelp’ which can be spotted at the lowest part of the shoreline where the sea never goes out. you can also use the brown variety is most likely to be seen half way down the beach.
This is left to rot for about 6 weeks, then the soil should be turned again and this time overlaid with ‘Green’ seaweed which can be found at the top of the shore again this is left over the winter, before planting in the spring turn the soil again and plant your seed potatoes, harvest mid June till mis July.

  sdixon wrote @

Thanks so much for your advice Tom. I live in France and I have tried everywhere to get potatoes which taste like Ayrshires but nothing comes close. I’ll buy some epicure seed potatoes when I go back in January and in the meantime will prepare my beds starting in September (with French seaweed of course). Incidentally I’ve been trying to find out how they grew them for ages. Why did they stop them using seaweed to fertilise the soil? Does anyone know?

  Denise wrote @

You can buy the Girvan Ayrshires at Saltcoats market on a Saturday, and Ayr market on a Sunday throughout June and July.

  Paul Donnelly wrote @

A few years ago we bought half a sack of new Ayrshire potatoes from the farm opposite Culzean Castle main gate. We ate some that evening and suddenly childhood memories! Need to get some more and save a few to go to seed.

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