Fingerling potatoes come in a wide variety of colors (yellow, white, red, and purple). This variety of colors looks beautiful on the plate and contains varied nuances in flavor depending on the color—some are sweet, others buttery or nutty. Great roasted or steamed, this root vegetable is packed with nutrients for skin, hair, liver, and immune health, including vitamins B6 and C, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids. Leave the skin on for maximum nutrition and visual impact, and roast up these fancy-looking potatoes at your next dinner party or family meal to wow your dining companions—even kids will get a kick out of these fancy-looking taters!
Oblong and slender, fingerling potatoes are much smaller than average potatoes, ranging in length from one to three inches. Found either loose in a bin or bagged, fingerlings are sold in variety of colors, ranging from white and yellow to red and purple. This isn’t just a cosmetic variation; each color has a distinctive taste.
Fingerling potatoes are often considered the most versatile potato in terms of flavor. Even though they may be the same length and shape, their taste will vary depending on their color. Yellow fingerlings are slightly buttery, purple potatoes are nutty, and reddish-brown varieties are a bit sweet.
Fingerlings are widely available in specialty stores and natural food markets. Some US supermarkets and farmers’ markets carry fingerling potatoes during peak season.
Peak season for fingerlings in the US and Europe is September through March.
Fingerling potatoes are usually oblong and uniform in size. As long as the potato is firm, with a slight shine to its thin skin, it’s good to eat.
Avoid any potatoes that are wrinkled or cracked, or those that have sprouts, as it indicates they have gone past their prime. Some “eyes” (dark spots) are fine, but check them to make sure they’re free of rot.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen,” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen”. These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides. Potatoes (all varieties) rank #10 on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” produce list. Therefore, choose organic whenever possible, or purchase from local farms that may not be organic, but that grow produce with minimal agricultural chemicals.
However, The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.
Store fingerling potatoes in a dry, cool, dark place—such as root cellars, closets, and basements—to keep them from sprouting prematurely or dehydrating. Mature potatoes will stay fresh up to five weeks if stored in an open paper or burlap bag.
You can also keep fingerling potatoes in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Do not store potatoes next to onions—they’ll both deteriorate.
Wash fingerling potatoes under cool running water, and scrub with a vegetable brush to get rid of any dirt. If you spot any bruises or deep “eyes” in the skin, remove them with a paring knife. Since the skin of fingerlings is so thin, there’s no need to peel them. Plus, the skin is packed with valuable vitamins and minerals.
Steam or roast fingerling potatoes whole. If roasting, pierce the skin with a fork a couple of times to release moisture.
If cutting them, to avoid discoloration, cut right before use. Avoid overcooking fingerlings, especially purple ones. If prepping potatoes in advance, place them in a bowl and cover them with cold water and a drop of lemon juice until ready to use.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
Amino acids and lipids are the main nutrients metabolized by vitamin B6, helping to promote proper energy levels throughout the body. It is also an important aspect of the formation of hemoglobin and neurotransmitters, protecting both the cardiovascular system and brain.
The majority of the manganese in the body is stored in the bones and organ tissue, mainly the liver and kidneys. Manganese is responsible for production and maintenance of sex hormones, blood-sugar regulation, brain and nerve function, calcium regulation and absorption, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Flavonoids are plant pigments that give brightly colored vegetables and fruits their distinct floral hue. These specific nutrients may aid in preventing the acceleration of the aging process by fighting against free-radical damage in the skin, organs, and bones. They have also been helpful in decreasing inflammation in muscles and joints and may play a role in cancer prevention.
Fingerling potatoes have many of the nutritional benefits as the other 8,000 varieties of this vegetable, including ample levels of vitamin C, potassium, and B6. And when you choose brightly colored fingerlings, such as the red or purple varieties, you’ll add the antioxidant anthocyanin to your plate, which boosts memory and immune system performance, and may help prevent certain cancers.
A word of caution: Potatoes are in the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers. Because of the alkaloids found in this produce, some people develop arthritic symptoms or allergic reactions if they consume too many nightshade vegetables.
- A smidge of folklore surrounding the introduction of fingerling potatoes involves a gentleman avoiding US quarantine laws by smuggling a French fingerling potato in the bottom of a horse’s feedbag!
- In the mid-1990s, the potato was the first vegetable grown in space, through a joint effort between NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
- Some natural remedies suggest easing the pain of sunburn by applying raw potato juice or shredded potato to the affected area. The starch of the vegetable calms the skin and reduces the sting.