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Huamantanga potatoes are small to medium in size and are elongated, oblong, and cylindrical in shape. The thin, smooth skin is tan to light brown, speckled with dark brown spots that vary in size, and has a few medium-set eyes scattered across the surface. Underneath the skin, the firm flesh is pale yellow to gold, dry, and dense. When cooked, Huamantanga potatoes have a velvety, waxy texture with a rich, earthy flavor.
Huamantanga potatoes are available in the summer and fall in Peru.
Huamantanga potatoes, botanically classified as Solanum tuberosum, are a popular variety in Peru that belongs to the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. Also known as Juito Rojo, Huamantanga potatoes are named after the small village of Huamantanga that is located in the highlands of the Andes. Huamantanga potatoes are a common variety found at local markets in the mountain villages of Peru and are favored for their smooth texture, mild flavor, and versatility in culinary applications.
Huamantanga potatoes contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and some iron and vitamin B6.
Huamantanga potatoes are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, steaming, frying, and mashing. The thin skin on the tuber peels very easily once cooked, and the flavor is neutral allowing it to blend with many different spices and seasonings. Huamantanga potatoes are commonly sliced and made into French fries, cooked into stews, or mashed and served under roasted meats. They can also be boiled and tossed into green and potato salads, pureed, or cubed and used as a thickener in soups. In Peru, Huamantanga potatoes are used in the traditional aji de gallina dish which is a creamed chicken stew consisting of boiled eggs, olives, potatoes, and bread, and papas a la diable con queso derretido, which is a potato dish that is covered in a spicy, melted cheese. Huamantanga potatoes pair well with tomatoes, mushrooms, leeks, onions, garlic, cloves, cumin, herbs such as cilantro, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme, chiles, meats such as pork, poultry, and beef, rice, quinoa, couscous, and corn. The tubers will keep 2-4 weeks when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Huamantanga potatoes are named after the small village of Huamantanga in the Canta province of Peru. The name Huamantanga translates to the “place where falcons roost” and is fitting due to the village’s high elevation in the mountains. There are less than five hundred inhabitants in the village, and the main source of income is through growing vegetables, potatoes, and grains along with raising livestock to produce cheese. During the main harvest in the summer, many of the smaller potatoes grown in Huamantanga are turned into chunos, which is an ancient process of naturally freeze-drying potatoes using cold night temperatures to freeze and warm day temperatures to dehydrate. To make chunos, the small tubers are dried, frozen, and stomped on to remove skin and excess water. Once preserved, these freeze-dried potatoes have an extremely long storage life and can last for many years. In Huamantanga, chunos are commonly given as offerings on alters to the village’s ancestors during moonlit nights, thanking the ancestors for providing crops and allowing for a plentiful harvest.
Huamantanga potatoes are native to Peru and have been cultivated in small mountain villages for thousands of years. The tuber was first known in Huamantanga, a small village in the Chillon river basin and Canta province, and other regions such as Cusco, Lima, Huanuco, Huancavelica, Junin, Apurimac, Cerro de Pasco, and Ancash may also cultivate the variety seasonally. Today Huamantanga potatoes are largely localized to markets in Peru and are also found in select regions of South America, specifically in the villages in the Andes mountains.