Appendix IV – Fingerling Potatoes
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The term "fingerling" refers to shape, not colour or texture. While classic varieties are either round or oval (long), fingerlings have a slender, elongated form with many eyes. Most varieties have red or yellow skin and yellow, waxy flesh.
Fingerlings are generally thin-skinned. Even brief dry periods during the growing season will produce misshapen or smaller tubers. Sizes vary, but most are 25 mm to 50 mm (1 to 2 inches) in diameter and 50 mm to 76 mm (2 to 3 inches) long. The Austrian Crescent variety can produce tubers that are 250 mm (10 inches) long.
In the Midwestern United States, fingerling potatoes are generally in season from mid-July through September. Peak season for California fingerlings is the Fall.
Best-Known Varieties of Fingerlings
- French Fingerling:
- Silky-smooth, cranberry-red to reddish-orange skin, covers moist yellow flesh marbled with red, especially just under the skin. Tubers measure 38 mm (1 ½ inches) in diameter by 76 mm (3 inches) long. Tubers have a waxy, moist flesh and a nutty flavour.
- Russian Banana:
- Yellow to beige skinned, yellow-fleshed, and medium-sized tubers. 'Russian Banana' tubers measure 25 mm (1 inch) in diameter by 76 mm (3 inches) long. Tubers have a waxy, moist flesh and a rich and buttery flavour.
- Austrian Crescent:
- Pale yellow skin with waxy flesh. The skin is tan, smooth, and firm; the flesh is light yellow. This variety produces 50 mm (2 inches) in diameter by 250 mm (10 inches) long tubers. Sometimes the skin is bitter. Tubers have a waxy, moist flesh.
- Ruby Crescent (also called Rose Finn Apple):
- Smooth, rose-coloured skin and deep creamy yellow flesh. Tubers are 25 mm (1 inch) in diameter by 76 mm (3 inches) long and are often knobby. About a quarter of the tubers produced by the vigorous plants have knobby, short growths on the main tuber. Tubers have a waxy, moist flesh and a deep, earthy flavour.
- Late maturity. Smooth, buff skin and pale yellow flesh.
- Yellow-skinned and yellow-fleshed tubers have deeply set eyes that spiral around the 50 mm (2 inches) in diameter by 76 mm (3 inches) long tuber. Ozette may also be sold or listed under the alternate names 'Haida' or 'Kasaan'. Tubers have a mealy, dry flesh.
- Butterfinger (also called Swedish Peanut):
- The skin is slightly rough and brown and flesh is yellow. Full-sized tubers are about 25 mm (1 inch) in diameter by 64 mm (2 ½ inches) long. Tubers have a mealy, dry flesh.
- Purple Peruvian:
- Uniquely purple skin and flesh. The tubers measure 19 mm (¾ inch) in diameter by 50 mm (2 inches) long. Tubers have a mealy, dry flesh.
- Red Thumb:
- Smooth and easily cleaned red skin and red flesh. The tubers generally measure 25 mm (1 inch) in diameter by 50 mm (2 inches) long. Tubers have a mealy, dry flesh.
Performing Inspections on Fingerling Potatoes
Canadian import requirements for potatoes apply to Fingerling potatoes. As such, they must meet the requirements of the Canada No. 1 grade for quality.
Depending on the variety, size ranges would be graded against the requirements for either the Canada No. 1 Creamer (¾ inch – 1 ⅝ inches) or Canada No. 1 Small (Long Type) (1 ½ inches – 2 inches) grades. Inspectors should record the size range used to perform the inspection under the Remarks section of the certificate.
In terms of common name of product, it is not necessary for the word "Fingerlings" to be marked on the package;"potatoes" would be sufficient. However, we would encourage inspectors to review, if possible, Bills of Lading or inward manifests to determine if the product is of the fingerling variety and not just off-size long types.
In terms of shape, the fingerling potatoes should be considered from the standpoint of shape characteristic of a particular variety. Fingerlings are an example of potatoes that have peculiar characteristics that make them outstanding from the standpoint of shape. Please refer to the attached USDA Visual Aid for shape (USDA Visual POT-L-1-July 1999).
We would note to you that the photos showing "U.S. No. 2, Not Seriously Misshapen" would not be acceptable as meeting Canada No. 1 and should therefore be scored. The Fresh Products Section will develop a Visual Aid for Canadian use, but in the meantime, please reference Visual POT-L-1-July 1999 prepared by the USDA.
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