The History of the Potato in Germany

Hi Guys! We are continuing our potato-themed week with a little history of the beloved tuber:

No other country in the European Union grows as many potatoes as Germany does.  Every region has its own potato dish and every German eats an average of 57 KG per year!

Deutsche Welle has a fascinating slideshow about the roots (no pun intended) and fascination of the potato in Germany:

“Native to the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes, the potato first arrived in Germany in 1630. According to legend, King Frederick II of Prussia (referred to as “Alte Fritz”)believed in the economic and nutritious value of potatoes. He tricked local farmers into planting more of the so-called apple of the earth by posting soldiers around the potato fields to protect them. It worked — highly valued goods taste even better.” (Source: Deutsche Welle.)

You can purchase a German picture book about the Potato King by the wonderful Berlin illustrator Christoph Niemann here: https://www.jacobystuart.de/rights/picture-books/potato-king/

It’s a nice story though not altogether true: “The brown tuber found its way into the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation much earlier on. In fact the potato, which was originally grown in the Andes, evidently came to the German region of Franconia via the Netherlands in the Thirty Years War where it was then successfully cultivated in the mid-17th century before beginning its culinary conquest of other duchies and the Prussians. In 1746, Old Fritz issued the first of his famed “potato decrees” obliging his farmers to plant at least some of their fields with potatoes.”

“And even though it took decades, the potato spread throughout the country, not least because it could be grown in poor or stony soils. Also, it had a higher yield per unit area than grain and no special implements were required to plant or harvest the crop.

The spread of the potato helped people get through the famine. By the 19th century at the latest, the potato had become an important part of the Germans’ staple diet. And the Germans remain thankful to Old Fritz to this day: even now, visitors place potatoes on the grave of this Prussian king at the Palace of Sanssouci in Potsdam as a token of their appreciation.” (Source: alumniportal-deutschland.org)

Be sure to check back for our next posts on potato crafts and science projects you can do with your kids. And send us a message if you have a recipe to share!

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