I’ve failed to find a succinct and clever quote to explain how potatoes and salt need each other, but the fact remains that without seasoning potatoes can be underwhelming.
How wonderful is it, then, that both Blas y Tir Pembrokeshire Earlies and Halen Môn are Protected Food Names, both run by dedicated, skilled and passionate people and whose products both taste delicious together?
We’ve met on a number of occasions working on PFN marketing and I leapt at the opportunity to visit the factory earlier this week when I was, um, passing Haverfordwest.
You plant potatoes in good soil, hope for the correct balance of rain and sun, dig them up and sell them, right?
Gosh no, there’s far more to the whole process than that.
Pembrokeshire Earlies are planted in January and then all fingers and toes are crossed for a frost free February before they are harvested and sent straight out in a joyous orgy of new potato eating in early May.
Other varieties also do well in Pembroke due to its mild climate, proximity to the Gulf Stream and dedicated farmers, and Puffin Produce keeps potato-eaters in Wales stocked up for the whole year.
Potatoes are harvested and taken to the factory where they are put into clamps. There they are held at cool temperatures, resting in locally-made, beautiful wooden crates in dark rooms, to set their skins and discourage them from sprouting.
When their moment of glory comes they are taken out and put in a holding room at a slightly higher temperature. From there they are washed, sorted into different sizes and packed according to the end use.
Robots are used to wash and pack but the final quality control comes from the staff on the look out for anything less than perfect which is then sold back to farmers as stock feed.
Shelf life samples are kept and analysed, samples are taken from each shipment and cooked according to the type, and the team sit down on most Mondays to taste their way through different varieties of potato, ranked first for taste as well as other attributes.
And the seasoning of choice? I was delighted to see that the MD is such a fan he actually has it pictured on his truck!