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The metamorphoses of king potato
 
 

The metamorphoses of king potato

As the child of genius, the Bintje now meets the requirements of excellence

On the 12,000 feet high central Andean plateau which stretches from the ancient city of Cuzco to Lake Titicaca, nomadic Indians collected and lived on wild potatoes more than 7,000 years ago.

If you're thinking of going to Peru, put on your climbing boots for you must not miss the papa harvest. You'll see the Peruvian potato fields, no bigger than postage stamps stuck to near‑perpendicular mountain slopes and you'll discover the extraordinary diversity of the harvested tubers. It is not unusual for a farmer to cultivate more than forty varieties! This is a wise precaution for life‑preservation of plants less sensitive than others to disease, frost, drought, hail or to God only knows what other natural disasters. When the moment for harvesting has come all the colours of the rainbow are unearthed. Every imaginable size and shape is extracted from the soil, from the miniature pineapple to the coral snake and the bright red cherry to the dark purple gum‑drop.

Andean farmers know and cultivate up to three thousand varieties!


Enough to arouse the curiosity of all the worlds pundits. It's on record that in 1923 three Russians paid a call on our tuberous nightshade in its country of origin. They brought back specimens of wild tubers which they raised, attended to, dolled up and which brought forth an uncommon and valuable collection. At all events, scientists of the Leningrad Agronomical Institute attached an inestimable scientific value to them because during World War 11, when the city was hard‑hit by fan‑fine, they guarded the prestigious tuber like a national treasure.

The Bintje suits any type of
preparation. The clay soils in
the southeast region and
those of the new polders in the
center of Holland are
particularly suited for the potato

If you want to know more about the potato's genetic diversity, consult the catalogue of species. In the Netherlands a hundred and fifty varieties, which are not all equally well‑known, have been registered. Those which are especially appreciated are the Irene, the Saturna, the Eigenheimer, the Dor?, the D?sir?e and above all the Bintje.

Schoolmaster de Vries who taught in Friesland didn't have the slightest idea, in 1905, that his most recent discovery was going to become an international star. He was a botany lover who crossbred potatoes in the classroom. The very first hybrid was named after one of his nine children. The tenth was baptized "Bintje? in honour of his best pupil, the little girl Jansma whose first name was Bintje.

What additional qualities does Bintje have to be such a success?
The fullness of its shape and its smooth fine skin seduced the public, and also convinced the industrialists who are nevertheless very hard to please with regard to appearance and temperament of their principal partner.


For no talent, however great it may be, and no industrial subterfuge could make a bad potato acceptable. The great chefs cannot be fooled in the choice of the products which make up their tasty dishes. With regard to the kitchen, our noble potato is appreciated for the consistency of its flesh. Maintaining firmness after precooking depends on its degree of dry matter or starch ‑ about 20%. 

With respect to agriculture, Dutch farmers are very happy with the potato's performance. In the clay regions of south‑west and cen­tral Holland, they obtain average yields of 47 tons a hectare with Miss Bintje, yields which could attain 60 tons in South Flevoland and in the Noordoost polder. Here Bintje reigns and benefits from scien­tific knowledge, the conscientiousness of plant selec­tors, and the agronomical and technical improve­ments of which the cultivators are enlightened sup­porters. The processing industry demands strict standards as to size, shape, amount of dry matter and sugar, absence of disease, such injuries as blackheart or bruising. Dutch cultivators, wholesalers and industrialists are bound by contract to comply with quality requirements. Through dialogue and close cooperation, intensive national‑scale agronomical research has been made possible. Without this, the interest of each party would be at stake.