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Candrau potatoes vary in size from small to large and are generally oblong to oval, with a slightly irregular shape due to uneven lumps and bumps. The semi-rough skin is firm and brown to tan with some light red coloring around the medium-set eyes. Underneath the skin, the flesh is dense, aqueous, and ivory to cream-colored. When cooked, Candrau potatoes develop a soft and creamy consistency with a mild, earthy flavor.
Candrau potatoes are available year-round.
Candrau potatoes, botanically a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, are edible, underground tubers that are believed to be native to Peru. There are over three-thousand different varieties of potatoes currently found in Peru that have been cultivated and developed over thousands of years. Grown at high altitudes in the Andes mountains, Peruvian potatoes are an essential source of revenue for local farmers and are sold daily in fresh markets. Neutral flavored potatoes such as the Candrau are favored among locals for their versatility in culinary applications and are used as an all-purpose variety in everyday cooking.
Candrau potatoes contain vitamin C, iron, potassium, fiber, and some vitamin B6.
Candrau potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as baking, roasting, boiling, and frying. The tuber is often considered an all-purpose variety as it has a medium amount of starch, and it can be sliced and roasted into chips or wedges, cooked into French fries, boiled and served with fresh herbs, or cubed and tossed into soups and stews. In Peru, the traditional dish known as papa a la huancaina boils potatoes and serves them with a spicy cheese sauce and hard-boiled eggs. Candrau potatoes are sometimes used in this famous dish, and their neutral flavor showcases creamy sauces with cheese and chiles. Candrau potatoes pair well with meat such as beef, pork, poultry, and fish, eggs, corn, tomatoes, beans, onions, garlic, and quinoa. The tubers will keep 3-5 weeks when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In Peru, potato farming has been a traditional source of revenue that has been passed down from generation to generation. Potatoes have been cultivated since the time of the Inca Empire, and new varieties of tubers are continually being created through cross-breeding. These developed varieties of potatoes sometimes don’t even make it to the market as each family has its varieties that they choose to sell and decide to exchange with friends in their village. Potato cultivation is a taxing business as native varieties are typically grown between 3,500 to 4,200 meters above sea level and are often cultivated by hand and carried on foot into town. Though the job is difficult, it has remained a staple profession in Peru because potatoes are a good source of nutrients in the Peruvian diet. Beyond culinary uses, specialty potato varieties are even used as gifts for celebrations. In Andean Quechua communities, in order for a man to marry a woman, the woman must peel a native potato and only remove the smallest amount of skin. If the potato peeling is deemed acceptable, then she is allowed to marry.
Candrau potatoes are a rare, native variety found in Peru that has been growing since ancient times. Potatoes, in general, have been cultivated in regions across Peru for over eight thousand years and today Candrau potatoes are still localized to the Andean highlands, grown on a small scale and sold at fresh local markets.