It's finally June, which means one of the region's most famous exports - the Ayrshire new potato - is back in season.

The Ayrshire earlies have started to appear over the last week in local shops and greengrocers, at a price of course, for those tattie fans who want to taste the first potatoes of the growing year.

With a smooth and creamy taste, the yet-to-mature Ayrshire potato barely has skin and is best eaten straight out of the ground to ensure its freshness. 

It has been grown across Ayrshire since the 1870s. Thanks to the milder coastal climate from the Atlantic gulf stream, combined with sandier soil compared to in-land, Ayrshire is home to one of the finest potatoes grown in the UK.

So much so, that the "Ayrshire early" qualified for special protected EU status in April 2019, joining the Stornoway black pudding and the Arbroath smokies, as food products that can't be imitated outside of their geographical homeland.

William Jack's farm near West Kilbride has been growing potatoes in Ayrshire for over four decades.

He started digging his Ayrshires today [Thursday, June 3]. So far, fifteen bags of potatoes have made it to local shops close by.

The demand will begin to grow in the coming weeks, as he explained to the Herald the reasons why the Ayrshires are so valuable at this time of year

He said: "New potatoes are so expensive at the moment because we are digging them so early. The number of potatoes will be about a sixth of a yield of the main crop.

"The main crop could yield potentially 20 tonnes of potatoes to the acre of land. Whereas, these early ones, the digging started to today, and will only be doing around 4 tonnes to the acre.

"They are very perishable, you need to eat them fresh. Because the skins aren’t formed on them, they won’t keep.

"If you bought a full bag of old potatoes, as long as you kept them cool in the wintertime, you could work your way through the bag. But if you buy a bag of Ayrshire potatoes, within about three days they start to perish.

"If we were keeping the ones we were digging today until they matured, until the end of July, you could keep them for long after that, but they wouldn’t have the same appeal because they wouldn’t be new potatoes, they’d just be potatoes. The old potatoes are floury and dry, you don’t get new potatoes like that, they’ve not reached that stage.

"But what they do now, since about 1970s, they discovered they could keep them refrigerated. The temperature is about 2C or 3C to keep them cool, if you keep them that way, they can last for 12 months.

"You go into a supermarket just now, the potatoes you are buying now will be last year’s ones. They are not new potatoes.

"That is why they are dear; they need to be. It is supply and demand, being able to eat them as soon as they are ready."

The beloved Ayrshire tattie will be enjoying the seasonal spotlight for the next few weeks until it matures into a regular potato, ready to be stored. Until then, we asked Mr. Jack how he eats his Ayrshires and he said: "I sometimes mash mine on the plate with a wee bit of butter just to get some butter through them, that's it."