Vermont School Garden

A visit to a Vermont public school garden through the seasons.

The Great January Potato Bake-Off

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Last week those fifth graders who were pictured harvesting their potato crop in a fall blog entry became potato culinary experts. I brought them cleanly scrubbed potatoes…enough for the entire class. I would like them to experience the whole process of preparing potatoes harvested  from the garden, but most classrooms are not equipped with easy access to water. When I brought these potatoes from the farm to my sink at home, they were coated with  a dusting of the soil in which they grew. This helped to preserve them for the last few months. Our school chef, Kim Kinney, generously allowed us access to the kitchen oven during a slow time. We used the Dining Hall as a prep station.

Students came from their classrooms in small group rotations. They got to work on their response sheets, choosing which type of marinade they preferred and then carefully slicing their potatoes into eights.

choosing marinades

choosing marinades

Some students needed to confirm their choices by smelling the marinades.

dipping potato wedges

dipping potato wedges

marinade scent test

marinade scent test

The three choices were 1. salt and pepper 2. vinegar and Old bay Spice 3. hot chili pepper flakes and salt. Each marinade also included about 1/2 cup of olive oil. The oil helps to distribute oven heat evenly and speeds up the baking.

There was an opportunity for a visual graph of initial student flavor choices. Each flavor potato had its own tray.

which choice was most popular?

which choice was most popular?

We baked our potaotes in a 350 degree convection oven for about 30 minutes.

After baking and cooling, the potatoes were brought down to the fifth grade class for snack time. Each student was asked to try all three flavors of baked potato. They also recorded the texture and appearance of each type. I could hear many students exclaiming over how much these baked “fries” tasted like the real thing! (Don’t tell them that these ‘fries’ are a helthier choice:-)

Their fifth grade teacher, Ms. Cynda, is teaching them about the  correct use of fork and knife when dining, so this lesson offered many components!

correct use of cutlery

correct use of cutlery

Having tried all three choices, students were asked to write about whether they would still choose the marinade they had chosen originally. How many do you think changed their minds?  One student recorded their votes on the board. Stay with us for the class response………coming soon!!


Author: vermontschoolgarden

I have been an elementary teacher at the Westminster Center School for 30 years. For most of those years, I maintained a garden as part of my teaching curriculum resource. Now I am the Garden Coordinator for all of the Westminster Center School classrooms.

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