I never really thought I’d need to worry about storing large amounts of potatoes, until my mum mentioned that she will be getting a large sack of potatoes from a local farm co-operative each year.
It’s a long story, but basically, my great grandmother’s farm fields were confiscated by the Czech government in 1945 as part of an idea of pulling all farm resources together and creating one big farm co-operative.
After the revolution in 1989, my grandmother got the fields back, but by then, nobody in the family was farming or wanted too start. Since the fields couldn’t be used for anything else (there are in a soil protected area for fresh water supplying Prague), my grandmother ‘rented’ them back to the local farmers co-operative for few sacks of potatoes and wheat, which are given to us each year. And by sacks, I mean like 25 kg ones!
I guess it’s a nice problem to have, but having that much potatoes only once a year, provides it’s own problems. My mum gives a lot of them away to friends and family, and over the years we’ve tried preserving them by keeping them in sand, freezing, making potato flour, drying and canning.
Today I wanted to share with you my top tips on freezing potatoes, since it’s probably the easiest way to preserve them and keep them fresh for a few extra months.
The first rule of freezing potatoes is that you can’t just peel them and freeze them! I mean you could, but they will turn brown as you defrost them and if you try to chop them smaller, they will also go quite mushy. Not a problem, if all you want them is a mashed potatoes, but if you are after something more sophisticated, you do need to put a bit of work in before you throw them in the freezer.
What’s causing potatoes to go brown?
As a teenager, each summer I’d always help to run local summer camp for children. We used to build everything from scratch, including the kitchen. Cooking for large amounts of people meant going through a huge amount of ingredients each day, including potatoes.
I remember, we use to peel them and then put them in another pot full of cold water, which sort of cleaned them, but also prevented them from going brown. We often peeled them first thing in the morning but didn’t use them until late afternoon. If you put peeled potatoes in cold water and place them in the fridge, they can easily last for 3-4 days. I think that’s quite a good way to preserve potatoes too. The browning in potatoes is caused by exposure to the air.
1. Freeze whole raw potatoes
- Peel your potatoes first and freeze them as they are in a suitable freezer bag. If you have some large potatoes half them or quarter them before freezing.
- If you want smaller pieces (say potato cubes) for stews, soups or mashed potatoes, you can cut them up into 1 cm cubes. They will freeze quicker and also defrost and cook quicker, which makes them a perfect soup or stew filler.
- If you don’t want your frozen potatoes to stick, freeze them individually on a tray first, before putting them in the freezer bag.
How to use frozen (raw) potatoes
Please don’t leave them to defrost before use, but add them directly to the boiling soup or meat stews, when they are still frozen. This avoids them going brown.
Make sure that you boil your soup or stew for long enough, so that the potatoes are fully cooked through.
2. Freeze pair boiled potatoes
- To speed up the process of cooking when you take out your frozen potatoes and to avoid the potatoes browning, you can par boil the potatoes first.
- Peel & cut up your potatoes to the shapes you need, for example, thick slices.
- Boil water, add a bit of salt and add the potatoes.
- Boil for 3-5 min maximum
- Drain the potatoes and lightly drizzle with vegetable oil.
- Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment, space out the potatoes slices and place into freezer. This is an effective way of freezing the potatoes without sticking together so that you can easily take out what you need to carry on baking them or adding them to stews or soups.
- Once frozen, gather them all to a freezer bag and keep in the freezer until you need them.
How to freeze raw potatoes for french fries
It’s best to pair boil, pre-bake or pre-fry the potatoes before freezing completely.
Follow the step by step directions as for parboiled potatoes, just make sure you cut the potatoes lengthways into french fries shapes. You can even get a special potato cutter for this, so if you like french fries, it’s worth getting one of these inexpensive gadgets.
Extra tips for freezing potatoes
- Any leftover cooked potatoes (including mashed potatoes) can be easily frozen for later. Just make sure that the potatoes are completely cooled down before freezing.
- When you par boil your potatoes, make sure that you drain the water properly. Either use a colander or kitchen paper towels.
Next time when you see a bargain potatoes in the shop, you’ll know what to do with them!