The Chuño – Dehydrated Potato

The Chuño (or tunta - freeze-dried potato) has fed families in Peru’s altiplano for more than seven thousand years.

It takes about 50 days to make good quality Chuño, the process goes something like this…
Gather the potatoes to be worked with. Tonnes of Locka, Sani Imilla, Chaska and Occocuri potatoes are brought from growing regions like Andahuaylas and Arequipa where there is a more stable climate.

Sort the potatoes, divide them by their varieties and weight, removing those that have gone bad.

Those potatoes that have passed the selection are left overnight, for three or four nights, in the open fields of the altiplano, where during the winter the temperature drops far below zero and they are frozen. In the mornings they are collected and protected from the warm sun.

“If the strong rays of the sun fall on the potatoes they go purple of black, from these you can only make Black Chuño, not the White Chuño or tunta“, explains Andrés Muñeico, a tunta producer from the rural Chijichaya community.

If the potatoes sound like rocks when hit together, it is time for the next phase. They are submerged in a river in mesh cages for up to thirty days where they are slowly cleaned.
When removed from the river, they are placed for one final night in the open to be frozen again.

The next day they are pealed and washed once more. To do this, the potatoes are placed in a net at the shores of a river. In rubber boots, the townspeople stomp on the rock hard potatoes which, pushed together inside the net, rub against each other and peal themselves.

Left to dry for another week among the Andean grass called ichu, they end up an intense brilliant white colour.

Once dried, and with minimal care in storage, the product can last for a long time, even years.