The Early Rose potato is a variety developed by Charles Blackmer and grown by Albert Bresee of Hubbardton, Vermont. The potato has tall green vines that develop white flowers when in bloom. The tubers are large and have an edible pink skin. The flesh is smooth and white in color with streaks of red. The Early Rose is a perennial potato grown as an annual crop. It’s a cool weather crop and grows best in areas with cooler summers. Extreme heat can limit both tuber production, quantity, and size. The potato is a member of the nightshade family of plants which include tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. It grows well in drained, fertile soil, favors a ph. from 5.0-5.5, and benefits from midseason fertilization.
After its introduction by Albert Bresee in 1861, the potato gained widespread popularity. By 1868, the potato was widely sold by B.K. Bliss and Sons of New York for $1 per pound. The Early Rose was prized for its resistance to blight, common pests, and its superior taste. It was one of the first commercially successful potatoes and contributed to the massive growth of the potato farming industry during the late 19th century. During the colonization of New England, potatoes sustained the people and were highly valued as a food source.
Like many heirloom plants, the Early Rose was relegated to obscurity by the production of cheaper, easier to grow potatoes like the Yukon Gold and Russet. The commercial viability of the Early Rose was diminished by the necessity of cool weather climates, which are not always present across North America. As the potato industry grew, taste was valued less than other attributes such as efficiency, low cost, uniform shape, durability in long distance shipment, long shelf life and ease of processing. These factors were valued over the rich flavor profile of the Early Rose and contributed to the diminishing nutritional value of the potato.
Heirloom potatoes are divided into two main textures, floury and starchy. The Early Rose falls into the starchy texture category. The taste of the potato is rich in consistency with a light potato flavor. The potato is considered a more balanced version of other red all-purpose varieties. It’s a good choice for all types of cuisine including salad, dumplings, soup, and sweet baked goods. The Early Rose is a great compliment to many other vegetables and can be mashed, roasted, boiled and included in casseroles.