Believe it or not, it wasn’t too long ago that wineries on Long Island’s North Fork were few and far between. Instead, vast potato farms sprawled across the land planting roots in the fertile yet sandy soils enhanced by a marine-moderated climate. There are still a few potato farms left…one of them is the 40 acre Sidor Farm in Cutchogue. A multi-generational family operation dating back to 1910, their prized crops of Andover, Marcy and Norwiss potatoes are now the source of North Fork Potato Chips, a local favorite now stocked in food shops like Murray’s Cheese Shop. Luckily for you, no matter where you live, these tasty chips can be sent directly to your door.
What makes North Fork Potato Chips unique is that it truly is a field to bag production right on the same site. At the height of potato farming in the 1950s, there were about 70,000 acres being grown on Long Island. Now it’s down to about 3,000 acres. As with the rest of agriculture, potato farms across the globe are larger than ever making it so only the big boys are able to survive the tight profit margins. Potatoes from Canada and beyond continue to flood the market. The Sidor’s weathered this situation by moving away from selling bulk potatoes to raising them for chip making.
North Fork Potato Chips’ thick-cut, hearty kettle-cooked morsels are the result of home experiments taste-testing chips of varying thicknesses cooked in different types of oil. They found the thicker cut cooked in sunflower oil consistently yielded a superior flavor.
The chip-making process from start to finish takes about 25 minutes in the Sidor family’s 2,000-square-foot chip-making facility. After the potatos are harvested and run through a de-stoning machine that washes the potatoes and removes stray stones and roots that get mixed in with the spuds, raw 40-pound batches of potatoes are washed, machine-peeled and dropped into the slicer, which cuts the potatoes at lightning speed into just the right thickness, and then swept into the kettle fryer, a large steel tub filled with four 50-gallon drums of sunflower oil heated to 305 degrees. Large spinning pinwheels sweep the chips back and forth for 15 minutes until they are golden and crispy and are then swept up onto another conveyor belt and deposited in a spinner, which, much like a clothes dryer, rapidly centrifuges off the excess liquid and air-dries the chips in preparation for hand salting. The chips are then dumped, spread out and eye-balled for quality and salted by hand from common household salt shakers. On a typical day, the Sidor crew will fry up about 3,500 bags of two- and six-ounce chips.
North Fork Potato Chips has several flavors to choose from but my favorite is their plain unadulterated version. But know knows, paired with Chapel Country Creamery’s grilled cheese sandwich recipe along with a crisp apple, perhaps their Rosemary Garlic would be heavenly as well!
Photos and story courtesy of North Fork Potato Chips