The Potato Research Institute, based in the town of Havlíčkův Brod, has announced that it has managed to cultivate a new potato variety, known as “Val Blue” which is characterised by a striking blue-purple colour.
This isn’t the first time the Potato Research Institute, which has existed since 1923, has come up with an unusual variety of potato. In 2005, researchers there announced the arrival of the Valfi potato, bred from a variety known as the British Columbia Blue. The Valfi was characterised by marbled purple flesh and an almost black skin.
Dr. Jaroslava Domkářová is a geneticist at the Potato Research Institute. She explained the significance of coloured potatoes such as the Valfi and Val Blue:
“Blue potatoes contain higher amounts of anthocyanin pigments, and that means they have about 20-30 percent higher levels of antioxidants than potatoes with a yellow or white flesh…the Val Blue variety, which we registered this year, is in part an offspring of the first Valfi potato variety from 2005.”
The process of creating new potato varieties is one of the missions of the Potato Research Institute. The Institution specialises in potato-related genetic cultivation, research and studies, and also offers advice to fellow potato growers. But, noted Domkářová, creating a potato like the Val Blue is far from an easy process:
“Cultivating any new potato variety is a long and complicated process. It can take between ten and twelve years to develop such strains. And these types of blue-coloured potatoes are even more difficult. Because when we want to create a table variety (suitable for human consumption) then it is very hard to make the potato meet all the nutritional criteria that we are used to here in Central Europe. We already have very high quality varieties of white and yellow potato here, and these blue ones tend to have a more spicy and distinctive taste.”
The Institute will now grow a small crop of the Val Blue at its own facilities, gradually cultivating greater amounts of the potato, which will then be made commercially available to other growers.