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Appalachia Through My Eyes – Arsh Potatoes

My life in appalachia Arsh Potatoes

Last night for supper we had: grilled barbecue ribs, pickled beans and corn, and baked arsh potatoes. It was all so good! We had worked outside all day. Somehow working outdoors always makes food taste better even if it’s just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I swear it tastes better.

I’m sure you all already know, but just in case you don’t arsh potatoes are just regular white potatoes. The arsh was originally Irish, but morphed into arsh. The word arsh was/is typically used to differentiate between white potatoes and sweet potatoes.

In days gone by, many folks native to Appalachia used the term and since I was raised in a house where they were called arsh potatoes I still call them that today.


p.s. Arsh potatoes even make cakes better-if you don’t believe me go here to see.


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  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    My family always called kinnebacks “arsh” taters. We would plant different varieties of potatoes including russets but the kinnebacks were “arsh” taters.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2021 at 12:12 am

    I just thought of my mom’s always saying “arsh” potatoes, and wondering if it were indeed from “Irish” potatoes. So, I googled it and learned that it was. I then ended up on your site and have enjoyed reading all the comments. I grew up in central Kentucky and still consider it my home.

  • Reply
    Johnnie e
    March 21, 2019 at 12:44 am

    We said ash potato

  • Reply
    jose Luis
    March 19, 2013 at 1:06 am

    dear Tipper
    I hereby want to thank the friend Ken, who had the courtesy to welcoming the appointment of the new Pope Francisco, born in Buenos Aires,my city.
    It is really an exceptional man, as bishop of Buenos Aires, always moved by bus or subway, and it has always done and is like a breath of fresh air for the Catholics, and a true and sincere hope for all Christians in the world all its different branches.
    It is extremely straight, fair man of high moral character and demonstrated a Cardinal eradicating prosecuted for covering up pedophile priests, in his first day as Pope, (is a man “of few fleas”).
    As a final example I tell to my dear friends of the Appalachians, being Bishop of Buenos Aires, wrote with his friend the Great Rabbi of Buenos Aires and Argentina,the book;”Between Heaven and Earth”, and always in the celebration Holy Mass, from very young said, “Pray for me.”
    Best regards to all, and may God bless you, Jose Luis from Buenos Aires.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    There are so many different white potatoes nowadays – Russet, red skinned, Yukon Gold’s, etc., Arsh seems not to fit them all anymore; there’s even a type named Yugios which are shaped like Russets, that are wrapped in plastic wrap which you nuke in the microwave for a perfect, quick baked-type potato. I’ve even seen a couple of strains of sweet potatoes available at the store – the regular orange ones and another white one that is sweet that came from South America. Interesting!!!
    Last night, we had roast beef and Irish Colcannon. Colcannon is white potatoes and shredded cabbage boiled together, drained and mashed with butter and cream. It’s yummy, but for some reason I can’t fathom, I only make it on Saint Patrick’s Day.
    In the old days, we grew potatoes in the garden. We stored all the extras in empty burlap chicken feed sacks and put them under the cellar stairs where the heat of the coal furnace kept them from freezing. Then around Thanksgiving time, Mom would dump them all out on the basement floor, and we’d all tromp down there to knock the eyes off ’em so they wouldn’t go to seed during the winter. That way we had homegrown taters to eat all winter long, usually not having to buy any until near Easter time.
    And by the way, our paternal Great-Gran was a little Scottish lady whose ancestors came from Ireland; she called Irish potatoes Irish potatoes, not Arsh. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Mel-thank you for the great comment! I think you’re right-in many houses it would be arsh taters : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Spacial Ed
    March 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    wher i live thays too kinds a taters. thays arsh taters an thays sweet taters. i dont much keer wher thay come frum its wher thay go thets empourtent. thets in mi belly.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I noticed in yesterday’s comments
    our friend from Buenos Aires had
    commented. I wanted to congradulate him on the new Pope
    Francis being from his home town.
    For supper yesterday I had stewed
    taters and backbones and ribs
    separately. Gonna be a rerun this
    evening. Happy St. Patrick’s Day
    to all…Ken

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    For some reason, Typepad won’t sign me in to comment on your blog. Anyway, I had never heard of Arsh potatoes before. Your dinner sounds delicious and very healthy. I agree that food tastes so much better after spending time working outdoors.

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    March 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Wouldn’t accurate usage be “arsh taters”?
    Up around here it was “i-sh taters”, also…

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I really enjoy baked potatoes with lots of sour cream and a sprinkle of Chives.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    An’ a fine St. Paddy’s to everyone!
    Being no less that a quarter Irish, I’ve a little bit of information about the Arsh potato and of course I’m willing to share it with y’all.
    I grew a big patch of them when I lived in East Kentucky; we called them “Irish (or Arsh) Cobblers there; they are a particular strain of potato and have a Latin name which escapes me at the moment. They are quick to mature, I believe they’re the quickest of all the potatoes, are mostly round in shape with a very few elongated or bumpy. They have a pale tan, smooth skin and few of them are as big as the mouse under your right hand as you sit at the computer. The white potatoes as we know them all originated in Peru and eventually migrated all over the world, a tale from The Auld Sod says that a Spanish ship sunk off the coast of Ireland in the 1500s and the potatoes they found in the wreckage grew very well, so well that they became the staple food in every Irish meal, sorta like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch in the US.
    Of course everyone knows about the Great Famine in Ireland and that she lost half her people through starvation and emigration; the famine was caused by a blight on the potato crop in the 1840s, which is when those who could afford a place in the bowels of a ship made for the US or Australia. The growing Irish population in the US gained a lot of notoriety, both good and bad, and the reason for that exodus from Ireland being the failure of the potato crop, the white potatoes, by association with the arrival of the Irish, became known as the Irish potato.
    Having said all of that, There are Kennebecs from Maine, Idahos, Russets, and Pontiacs, which we grow down here in West Georgia, but strictly speaking, none of these are Irish Cobblers, only the wee white pradies wi’ the tan skin should be consider so. Of all the potatoes, I submit that the Arsh Cobblers are the tastiest…
    Which is more about the spud than you ever wanted to know..

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 11:51 am

    That was a new term for me. I had never heard that word in reference to potatoes. I wonder what you might call the Yukon potatoes. Interesting! One just never knows what you will teach us next. Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

    We have Arsh Taters quite often, one of my favorites is to scrub the taters well, place them in a brown poke, seal the poke by folding the top over and “Nuke” them for four minutes per side. Slice the taters and scoop the tater outa the skin then ina a mixing bowl add butter and sour cream, mix briskly until smooth (you may have to add butter to achieve the desired smoothness) then place the taters back in the skin and place them on a biscuit tin. Broil until they start to brown slightly, remove from oven, garnish with parsley and serve as a side or an entree’. You may want to add a dollup of butter and/or sour cream when serving. Sometime I add crushed bacon either in the tater mixture or with the parsley garnish. By using the microwave this can be accomplisd from start to finish in less than thirty minutes.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    March 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day…
    I love Arsh Taters, like Forrest Gumps friend said about shrimp, the potato can be cooked many ways. As a child I loved them raw, when I could talk my Mom into giving me a slice, with the salt shaker, when she was peeling taters for supper.
    So good baked, biled, stewed and mashed, whipped and creamed. Scalloped, fried and hashed..etc. ect. One of my favorite paintings is the Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh..his very first attempt to be famous..The figures aren’t very pretty, but peasents surviving on potatoes in their shack of a home. I think if I were starving like the Irish did I could survive if I had a root cellar of arsh taters, well, maybe a few onions, cabbage, carrots, etc…
    Thanks for this post…
    I’ll be wearing the green. I hope soon I can send you my latest
    painting (copy of the fairy playing on the rainbow, shamrocks, Leprechaun and rainbow ending in the pot of gold…I finished it in February…I am on to Aprils painting now…

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 17, 2013 at 9:52 am

    How do we know that Arsh wasn’t the original pronunciation of the word? Maybe it morphed into “Eyerish! Maybe contained within the Appalachian dialect is a repository of much of the language as it was spoken when our nation was in its infancy.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 17, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I love arsh potatoes,especially baked with butter and sour cream. I can make a meal of a baked potato and do on occasion.
    I agree with you, Tipper, working outside all day, on the first day of the season warm enough to work out really builds an appetite.
    Tip, I’m gonna tell you a story but I need you to promise not to tell the Deer Hunter. When I was pregnant we had baked potatoes one night for supper. I was so hungry. I ate the biggest baked potato I’ve ever seen. It was drenched with butter and sour cream. It tasted so good, but it was too much for me to eat and my stomach gave it back to me about 30 minutes later.
    My family started calling my baby Spud. They would say “when little spud gets here” or “when is little Spud due” or “with all the swimming your doing little Spud is bound to be born swimming” and on and on. Back then we didn’t know it we were having a boy or a girl but we knew that it was Little Spud that was coming.
    When the Deer hunter was born my family continued calling him Spud with complete disregard for the name we gave him. After about a year of that I realized that he was going to be Spud all his life if we didn’t stop it. I didn’t want him to be called Spud all his life so I talked to everyone and asked that they please call him by his name. Most of them followed my request but we still heard a Spud every now and then for several years.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    March 17, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Arsh taters and arsh stew; I remember.

  • Reply
    E Stelling
    March 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

    My mammaw and granddad said this, and I think my great-parents also called them. I did my genealogy finally and found we were from Scotland, but settled in Maury Tenn and Stamping Ground Kentucky mountains. I went to visit Akin Ridge when I drove through.
    Keep it up Tipper, still lovin this!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Mom always called them ice taters until she was in the presence of others, then she called them arsh taters. I’m sure she thought arsh was the correct pronunciation.

  • Reply
    Ron Perry, Sr.
    March 17, 2013 at 9:12 am

    We also called them that.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    March 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

    you can either mash or whip or cream them.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 17, 2013 at 8:49 am

    My parents also called them Irish potato. I can remember doing it too, but somewhere along the line it turned into potato with all others having an additional name. red, sweet, gold.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    March 17, 2013 at 8:31 am

    While my mother was growing up in Kentucky, she always heard ‘Arsh’ potatoes. And, the chickens they had were ‘Row Down Reds’. It wasn’t until she was grown that she discovered they were ‘Irish’ potatoes and ‘Rhode Island Reds’

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    March 17, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Love me some “Arsh” potatoes.. Our daughter could live off them, anyway you fixem she loves.em,, Been hearing that word all my life.. I remember following a mule drawn middle buster, that Daddy rigged up to pull behind the tractor, you’d have to hang on to those handles and try to keep it in the middle of the plants so you could flip the whole thing upside down and expose those potatoes…

  • Reply
    Ed Reed
    March 17, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I was almost an adult before I realized what “arsh” meant. Another word that stumped me for a long time was “nuss,” as in “why is she still “nussing” that big old kid around? He’s old enough to walk.”

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    March 17, 2013 at 7:48 am

    In my area only red skinned white potatoes were known as “Arsh” potatoes. White skinned or Russet potatoes were known as “Baking” potatoes and I don’t remember seeing one until I was nearly grown. We typically used the red skinned potatoes for all purposes and certainly we never grew anything but these. We always planted our Arsh potatoes on or close to Saint Patrick’s day. I think I may need some fried Arsh taters for breakfast. Ya’ll all have a great Sunday.

  • Reply
    Abraham Lincoln
    March 17, 2013 at 7:20 am

    We had some potatoes last night. Baked with skin on. In sprayed aluminum foil. Cut side down rubbed skin with oil.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Good day’s work. Good food. Good night’s rest. God Bless.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2013 at 4:40 am

    When I was very young I was introduced to a man who told me that he came from “Nornarn”; it was much later that I realised that what he’d said was Northern Ireland – but with an Arsh accent, of course!

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