This post is sponsored by Idaho Potatoes, but all opinions are mine! Photos are courtesy of @jpollackphoto of J. Pollack Photography.
Last month I had the pleasure of joining the 2016 Idaho Potatoes Harvest Tour. I had never been to Idaho and was looking forward to the tour for months! The folks at the Idaho Potato commission are such wonderful people and the trip was so great, I can’t wait to share my experience with you. I learned so much about how potatoes are processed. The tour took us through all the stages of the potato harvest. From the farm, to the factory, to the plate!
At the end of the tour I even got to try potato donut holes, which let me tell you are pretty amazing! But let’s start with the harvest and our visit to Hoff farm.
The Hoff Family Farm was our first stop on the tour, which makes sense since this is where the potatoes are grown.
After digging up some spuds in the field, we were treated to a home-cooked meal in the hangar area.
Yes, this is a farm with planes. And a hangar. And guess who got to take a ride in one of those planes? I tied for the biggest potato to get unearthed that day and the prize was a ride on the plane that James Hoff actually built himself. It was scary, but super fun.
Our next stop on the tour was at the Wada Farms fresh potato packing facility, where we witnessed tons of Idaho potatoes being washed, sorted, inspected and packed. It was quite a production!
I’ve ever seen this many potatoes in one place at one time. There are roughly 13 billion pounds of potatoes harvested in Idaho each year — that’s A LOT of potatoes, folks! I loved learning that high school kids are let out of school during potato season to help with the harvest.
We also toured two processing plants — Lamb Weston and Idahoan Foods.
Lamb Weston is a frozen potato processing plant. This is the factory that produces McDonald’s french fries and Alexia Frozen Potatoes. We got to test taste, of course.
The Idahoan plant is a dehydrated potatoes facility where we had to get suited up in safety gear to get inside. Although I’m not a fan of dehydrated potatoes generally, it was fascinating to learn how they are made. No pictures were allowed, but I wish you could see the paper thin strips of dehydrated potatoes coming off the machines…you would never guess that is how boxed mashed potatoes were made!
Our final stop before heading to the Tetons was the the Idaho Potato Museum to learn some history of the famous Idaho spud. It was pretty cool to visit a museum dedicated to all things potato!
Along the way we saw some pretty beautiful Idaho landscapes.
Our last night was spent at the breathtakingly beautiful Teton Springs and Linn Canyon Ranch for some rest and relaxation before heading home. This is where I had my first encounter with those delicious potato donut holes.
I have always been a fan of potatoes. In fact, French fries lead the list of my all-time favorite foods. I’m so grateful I’m able go on these harvest tours and learn how the food we eat is grown and processed. It makes such a huge difference in how you feel about the food you’re eating after speaking and learning from the people who are actually producing it.
Thank you to the Idaho Potato Commission for this wonderful experience! And now, for some potato making inspiration, check out a few of my favorite recipes:[Tweet “Love potatoes? Me too! Check out this photo tour of #Idahopotatoes + some cooking inspiration!]