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Making the freshest chips in town

August 17, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Once approximately 25 bushels of potatoes were harvested Saturday from the patch at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center during Spud Fest, volunteers took over potato duty to produce homemade potato chips.

Some 4-H members helped pick and clean potatoes to earn student service learning credits.

Robert Jackson, 15, of Williamsport, and Amanda Lee, 13, of Sharpsburg, used their fingers to scrub dirt off potatoes in a large tub of cloudy water before plopping them into a tub of water for rinsing.

Casey Moser, 15, of Hagerstown, plucked them out of the water and piled them in another metal tub.

The potatoes were sliced, skins on, using mandolins.

"Kind of tricky, isn't it?" asked slicer Dorry Norris, 74, of Hagerstown.

"It is," said Lisa Drake of Sharpsburg.

Slicers had to be careful not to nip their fingers while sliding the potatoes back and forth on a mandolin blade.

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Also slicing potatoes were Sally Artz, 72, of Rench Road, John Shank, 71, who lives south of Funkstown, and John Moser, 51, of Hagerstown.

The sliced potatoes were dropped in an old butchering kettle and cooked in lard at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until they were crispy, said Velma Poffenberger, chairwoman of the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum's Special Events Committee.

Official taste tester Shirley Day got the first bite.

"They're definitely done," said Day, 70, of Beaver Creek. "I love them. That's why I'm the official taster. I've eaten all kinds of potato chips."

After cooling off slightly, the chips were salted and bagged for eating by the day's participants.

Before the picking began, organizers had to plant kennebeck potatoes last spring. William Gower & Son donated 100 pounds of potatoes, of which about 75 pounds were planted, organizers said.

The Feed Bin donated the fertilizer, organizers said. Melvin Gossard's horses and Frank Artz's plow were used to plow the potato patch.

Leftover potatoes were to be given to food banks, Poffenberger said.

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