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My love for potato salad has a somewhat unconventional beginning. As a child, I did not care for the popular potato dish, but it seemed to appear at every graduation party, birthday celebration, and holiday gathering. Often these gatherings consisted of brats (this is Wisconsin, of course!), fruit selections, and one or more options of potato salad.

Growing up, I eventually saw this pattern, and realized potato salads are staples at Wisconsin potlucks. This meant I better give these salads a try, or risk losing out on half of the food at some gatherings. Today, I’m glad middle-school Abigail gave potato salad a try, because it quickly became one of my favorite side dishes!

Since then, I have learned the interpretations of potato salad are endless. Though general variations differ by region, most varieties stem from a family recipe, handed down for generations. Secret ingredients differentiate creamy vs. chunky, mild vs. spicy and simple vs. complex recipes. There is no one correct way to make a potato salad, but starting with Wisconsin potatoes is sure to put your dish in the winning category.

As a leading potato-producing state, Wisconsin is known for not only quantity, but also for the quality of our potatoes. Quality Wisconsin potatoes are grown all over our state, with a large concentration found in the Central Sands region. The sandy soil makes for prime potato producing land. An ideal growing climate combined with progressive farming practices, state-of-the-art storage facilities, and world-class research all help our spuds stand out above the rest. Whether you need a potato for baking, mashing, roasting, steaming, slow cooking, grilling, frying or even blanching, Wisconsin has a spud for you.

My favorite variety for potato salad is the round red potato. Rosy-skinned and white-fleshed, Wisconsin Round Red potatoes have a firm, smooth, and moist texture. These characteristic make them well-suited for salads, roasting, boiling, and steaming.

The Wisconsin Round White potatoes are also a good variety to choose for potato salad. Want to add some color to your salad? Choose a purple potato! Yes, you read that correctly, potatoes can be purple! Originally from South America, these potatoes are now popular in the U.S. Primarily available in the fall, they certainly add color to your favorite dish, and a subtle nutty flavor.

Wisconsin is a leader in the preservation of current potato varieties, the development of new potato strains, and the implementation of sustainable growing practices. From seed to store to salad, Wisconsin growers and processors are committed to producing safe, nutritious potatoes for our communities and beyond.

With over 67,000 acres of potatoes harvested in Wisconsin in 2017, we are proud to be a potato powerhouse. On average, potatoes generate 352 million dollars for our state’s economy annually! When you choose Wisconsin potatoes, your dollars stay local and support our local economy. Celebrate your Wisconsin potato pride, and learn more about our potatoes at eatwisconsinpotatoes.com.

Abigail Martin is serving as Wisconsin's 72nd Alice in Dairyland.

Red Skinned Potato Salad

2 lbs. scrubbed new red potatoes

6 eggs

1 lb. bacon

1 onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

2 c. mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and set in the refrigerator to cool. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop. 

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. Chop the cooled potatoes, leaving skin on. Add to a large bowl, along with the eggs, bacon, onion and celery. Add mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste. Chill for an hour before serving. Serves six.

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