Tip: Soaking Potatoes

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but I am a gigantic fan of Triple D. You know, the Food Network show with Guy Fieri, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Every week I’ll watch the mini-marathons on Monday and Friday evenings.  And so help you if you try to stand in my way and prevent me from watching the show because I will take you out.

I even have an app on my phone (TV Diner, awesome, you should totally get it) to help me find spots featured on the show.

It’s a great way to introduce local and independent restaurants to folks plus I learn a lot of great tips.  On one episode I saw, a diner soaks their fries in water for 24 hours before frying them.  It helps them achieve a really crispy fry.

You don’t say?

I’ve tried it and it does help make for a crispy fry, and I make my fries in the oven.

This Thanksgiving, I wondered if I could apply that concept to making mashed potatoes.

It occured to me that if I soak the cubed potoates in a lightly salted bowl of water, that might help remove some of the starch and result in a fluffier mashed potato.  Because potatoes have so much starch to them, sometimes they turn into a very thick and glue-like mess of mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are easy to make but they can be tricky to get the right consistency and texture.

In theory, removing some of the starch should help make for lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, right?

Since I’m all about experimenting, I gave it a go.  The day before Thanksgiving, I peeled and cubed my potatoes and placed them in a large bowl.  I sprinkled in some salt and filled the bowl with cold water.  Stirring everything together and I set that in the fridge letting it hang out till I was ready to use it.

On Thanksgiving day, I drained the potatoes, dumped them in a pot and filled the pot with cold water.  Brought it up to a boil and went about the normal routine of making mashed potatoes.

The experiment totally worked!  We had the creamiest and fluffiest mashed potatoes!

Soaking the potatoes removed a good bit of the starch which meant they weren’t a heavy mess.

This technique also decreased the cooking time to bring the potatoes to fork tender, probably by about 10 minutes.

I also had less lumps and a much smoother texture.  I used Yukon Golds which are creamy potatoes on their own but this was a whole other level of creaminess.

I definitely will be doing this from now on when I make mashed potatoes.  I would imagine a full 24 hour soak isn’t necessary, just a few hours should do the trick.

22 thoughts on “Tip: Soaking Potatoes

  1. Heidi G says:

    That’s an awesome idea! I sometimes find it hard to find the time to make mashed potatoes (since it means when I get home from work I have to peel, cut and then boil the potatoes). If I soaked them, I could do all the prep work the night before and cut down on the time needed to make them the day of. I will definitely be trying this. Thanks for the tip!

    • Sue Holliday says:

      Heidi, I have been doing this ever since the Pilgrams settled here in the New England States! Seriously, not until this past Thanksgiving did I ever even question that this was something I should or shouldn’t have been doing all these yrs as I never thought to ask people if they soaked their potatoes over night. Mostly the people I knew must have done this as knowing me I would have asked if I thought they were doing something WRONG or different from MY WAY! So the night or day before I suggested to my daughter-in-law that she may want to peel potatoes & get them out of the way the night before. She probably didn’t hear me, hum, hum, as when I walked in Thanksgiving afternoon maybe an hr & ahalf before dinner there she was with her sister just finishing peeling the potatoes, her Mom sitting there watching. Finally her Mom said she might want to quarter her potatoes so they would cook quicker,good sugestion, I thought. Usually I can’t keep my mouth shut so I did mention how I always peeled my veggies the night before etc, even left them in the garage or cellar over night where it was cold enough when I didn’t have room in the fridge. She seemed stunned to think you could soak potatoes for that length of time or at all. Her Mom kind of just listened in as she isn’t a cook either. Oh, gosh, I hope this doesn’t hit the front page of the New York Times, but then I guess they don’t read the paper anyway, so no worry there, should worry more about Face Book! So Heidi, it is so nice that you can feel comfortable coming to a sight like this & pour your heart out, doesn’t it. We all love to cook, if not now & you keep coming here you will learn to love to cook. Hopefully. We also have all made some pretty silly mistakes & then some incrediable dishes to be so proud of. I think the later seems to be less often the older I get, as at only 64 I keep making mistakes I never seemed to make before & it takes me much longer to do EVERYTHING, except dishes, I still wash as I go so never have a messy kitchen, just can’t seem to kick the habit . Well this was fun & I got my answer, one I never thought to ask, should you or should you not allow potatoes to soak in water? I love to find helpful hints to help me in the kitchen or anywhere in the house for that matter. I love to try new ways & appreciate the help from others. Have a great day girls & remember the more you ask the more you learn.

  2. Andrea! LOL. I love Triple D also. I had a very challenging period in 2007-2008 and I am not kidding when I saw watching that show brought me great relief :) I’ll have to peep out that app.

  3. diane says:

    left potatoes soaking in water all day ,than rinsed and put in fresh water to boil.My mashed potatoes were a googey mess WHY?

    • Hi Diane, I’m not sure. Was it cold water and did you store the soaking potatoes in the fridge? Potatoes do need to be kept cold to keep from turning.

    • Sue Holliday says:

      I may have your answer Diane. I don’t think it has to do with soaking the potatoes at all. A couple of yrs ago I was making mashed potatoes with my electric mixer, something new to me as I had always used the old fashion hand held masher. If I had a lot of extra people to cook for, like during the Hollidays,my husband would mash them for me just like my Dad did for my Mom when I was small. My wrists just weren’t strong enough and now that is why I have to use a beater most of the time. Well, my potatoes came out like glue & I believe I was using Yukon Gold which I hadn’t used prior to that episode very often. I thought they were suppose to be one of the best you could use for mashed. They wasn’t anything I could do or knew of to do to render the problem so had to leave them as they were. It happened again after that when I was making a very few but used the beater, was cooking for a gentleman neighbor just because I knew he didn’t get home cooked meals very often but sure was embarrassed & I had gravy and all to go with a Roast Chicken. Recently I heard or read that the metal beaters on our mixers do something to he potatoes to make them like glue and you are better off with the paddle if you have one which I didn’t. I noticed that my daughter-in-law has one on her mixer, Kitchen Aid, that is the one that has a paddle. So if you don’t have a mixer with a paddle or a man with a strong arm, I suggest you serve baked potatoes. I am sure though that there are some potatoes maybe less starchy that maybe wouldn’t be quite so sticky when mashed with a mixer but go lightly if you have to use one, a few lumps are better than glule, mine looked like wallpaper paste, what a mess.

  4. Bobby G says:

    Are you also a big fan of Ro from Startrek TNG? J/K; but, maybe next Halloween…
    Here’s my thing: I want to do a 4th of July Spread that looks like the US Flag. I’m good with my Red Stripes. I think White Corn and Philly stuffed Celery Sticks will cover the White Stripes and for my Blue background with White Stars, I want to do Potatoes, in a big square dish. I thought the stars can be cut out and roasted; but, I don’t want to use food coloring in the Mashed (Blue) potatoes. I’m thinking about boiling them with Purple Peppers and Purple Carrots; and maybe even Blueberries. What do you think? I’m SOOO open to Suggestions.
    Thanks, BG

  5. Theresa Linn says:

    Also when you soak potatoes, it takes some of the potassium
    out and a person with kidney can enjoy some mashed potatoes
    too.

  6. lynn h says:

    I googled, “soak potatoes before boiling” and there you were! And I’m glad it worked out for you becuase I’m having a dinner party this weekend, and soaking potatoes over night, would save me a ton of time! Thanks for the experiment/tip!

    Lynn

  7. Dave says:

    Thought on the glue potatoes. I know that with sourdough you MUST NOT use metal whisks, bowls, beaters, etc.
    Did you soak your potatoes in a glass bowl vs. the glue-toes being soaked in a metal bowl? Do not know what was done different, but that is a thought…
    Also, with pinto beans, once you soak them, you have to rinse them thoroughly before adding the new water to cook. Otherwise, you will have much gas. Perhaps the cubed potatoes need to be re-rinsed to prevent the glue…

    thoughts?

  8. Karen says:

    Do not cut the potatoes into small cubes Smaller than a tennis balll but bigger than a golf ball. Like the size if you cut a big baking potato into thirds. The smaller the piece the mooshy gluey they will be.

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