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Gourmets agree: Noirmoutier potatoes have a delicious taste and a very particular shape. Small and round, their skin is very thin, which makes them fragile and requires manual picking, three months after planting and before complete ripening. These are the early potatoes or new potatoes. Their flesh is tender and firm and their taste is sweet.
The specific taste of Noirmoutier potatoes is due to the climate in which they grow, sheltered from west winds and frosts. Influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the winters are very mild, the rains rare and the summers temperate. The light and sandy soil, enriched by seaweed, and a generous amount of sunshine, allow these potatoes to develop perfectly without rotting.
La Bonnotte is a fragile variety and its cultivation is the most delicate, it is done according to the technique of profiling of the ground particular, the ridge. By gathering the earth in wide and long parallel ridges, the earth maintains its heat and the soil is better drained; another advantage is that the tubers are thus aerated.
This preferential treatment continues during the harvest: the Bonnotte is never pulled up. It is harvested by hand on its stem and before ripening, the first week of May. In addition to its small taste of chestnut, its culinary particularity of being consumed with its skin!
This small Bonnotte is harvested for only a fortnight, which explains its low production, on 5 hectares, of 100 tons for 10 000 tons of potatoes harvested on the island.
Enjoy them the simplest way possible: Scrape the potatoes and wash them. Don’t peel them. Melt butter in a frying pan. Put the potatoes in it, add salt with fleur de sel. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, shaking the bonnottes regularly.
Universal ambassador of the island, the Bonnotte de Noirmoutier potato is unknown and its originality makes its prestige. Its production is about 100 tons. Originally from Barfleur, this small round potato was introduced on the island between the two world wars. Its production had been neglected when mechanization started, because it was too fragile and small, the Bonnotte de Noirmoutier had to be picked up by hand, which was not profitable. Since then, it has made a comeback in our plates!
The Bonnotte de Noirmoutier, a variety of terroir par excellence, is anchored in the memory of the people of Noirmoutier. A successful variety from the 1950s, it is known for its historical and festive character. It is the universal ambassador of the island, its originality makes its prestige. Its history begins in the years 1920-1930, when a perceptive farmer brings back in his luggage a new variety of potato from the region of Barfleur in the Manche. It made its first steps on the island indifferently under the names of “Bounotte”, “Bonnette” or “Bonnet”. However, it quickly became established on the island and for export under the name of “Bonnotte”.
However, around 1960, the Bonnotte de Noirmoutier disappeared with the arrival of the mechanization era. Too fragile, it can only be planted and picked up by hand. In 1995, the growers of the island of Noirmoutier decided to bring it back to life, never having forgotten the one that made them famous… This is why, 30 years later, they decided to resurrect the Bonnotte and put it back on the market. To achieve its challenge, the Agricultural Cooperative of Noirmoutier contacted the INRA of Brest, which, in its laboratories, recreated in an identical way this prestigious tuber of the past.
The Noirmoutier farmers were thus able, as early as 1995, to plant the Bonnotte seeds and, as in the past, to harvest it by hand. In 1996, the golden nugget returned to the market. It was declared the most expensive potato in the world at an auction at Drouot. Updated, it has been given a new lease on life by consumers who are enthusiastic about its originality.
Today, with its pronounced taste of fresh chestnuts, it has become a universal ambassador of the Noirmoutier Island’s know-how in the field.
Steamed for the expression of all its aromas or just blanched and browned in salted butter, it makes all gourmets hungry.
As these are exceptionally fragile potatoes, please enjoy them the soonest possible.
Potatoes last longer on the kitchen counter than most fruits and vegetables, but eventually, they start to sprout green shoots and lose some of their freshness and flavor.
Do not wash potatoes until you are ready to use them. Moisture does not help them last longer and will in fact make them prone to soft spots.
Place the potatoes in its original paper bag, mesh bag, basket or bowl to ensure good ventilation. Store your potatoes in a cool, humid, and dark place. Never store potatoes in the fridge. The too-cold temperature turns the potato starch into sugar. Check on your potatoes regularly and remove any that are soft, shriveled, or sprouted so they don’t cause more potatoes to go bad. Even if your potatoes have sprouted, they are still safe to eat as long as they are firm to the touch and are not shriveled.