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Kitchen Shrink: Can I freeze potatoes?

A viewer recently asked, “Can I freeze potatoes?” Although you can’t freeze raw potatoes (they discolor and the texture changes), if you suddenly have way more potatoes than you can use before they wrinkle, you can freeze some for a short period of time with the right preparation. You might find dishes made with the frozen potatoes to be somewhat different in texture from the same dish made with potatoes that haven’t been frozen, so it is important to cook them gently in the final product and to season them well.

To prepare for freezing: Rinse and peel the potatoes, cut them into the size pieces you want to use (halves, chunks, cubes, strips, shreds), and place them in a bowl of water with a little lemon juice or vinegar as you are cutting them.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; drain the potatoes, add them to the boiling water (in batches if you are doing a lot), and cook them until crisp-tender but not fully cooked, 2 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. With a slotted spoon transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool them quickly, then drain them very well.

Depending on how you plan to use them, you can pack them in plastic bags for soups, stews, or mashed potatoes, freeze them on parchment-lined baking sheets and then transfer to bags once frozen if you are going to fry or roast them, or shape them into patties before freezing for hash browns. Place the packages in a single layer in the freezer so they will freeze quickly.

How to use them: It is best to thaw the potatoes in the refrigerator before using them to make soups, stews, or mashed potatoes. Wait to add them to soups and stews until near the end of the cooking time. When making mashed potatoes, the addition of cream, butter, and/or cream cheese rather than milk will produce a better texture. If pan frying or roasting the potatoes, you can start with the frozen potatoes, brush them with oil before they go into the pan, and cook them slowly. To deep fry, just make sure each piece is separate as it enters the oil.

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