A potato variety with purple skin and yellow flesh called “Huckleberry Gold” has culinary qualities similar to those of the Yukon Gold but with less sucrose and vitamin C content. It has a significantly better level of antioxidants than Yukon Gold, thereby conferring greater health benefits. It’s also smaller than Yukon Gold, giving it better access to specialty markets geared toward smaller size. The variety was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in its Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, Idaho.

Interest in specialty-potato varieties has increased through the years, with consumers seeming to prefer varieties with purple skin and yellow flesh as compared to those with red skin and yellow flesh.

Huckleberry Gold was originally designated as breeding line A99326-1PY. It originated from hybridization in 1999 by Agricultural Research Service staff between Agria and COA94019-5R. Agria is a yellow-fleshed German variety, while COA94019-5R is a red-skinned white-fleshed breeding clone originating from the Colorado State University potato-breeding program that was subsequently selected in the field at Aberdeen.

First selected in the field in 2003, Huckleberry Gold went through multiple evaluations and trials. It was officially released in 2011 from the Northwest Potato Variety Development Program, which is composed of researchers from the Agricultural Research Service, the University of Idaho, Oregon State University and Washington State University.

Huckleberry Gold also is resistant to Potato virus X as well as the golden potato cyst nematode. It has moderate resistance to common scab and dry rot.

The variety appears to be rather versatile. Besides its regal purple skin, yellow flesh, smaller size and rich flavor, the fact that it has a reduced glycemic index appears to have carved out a niche – attracting consumers who wish to reduce sugar intake. With Huckleberry Gold many consumers can have the proverbial cake – or potato – and eat it too. 

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Mina Chung writes about research and science for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.