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How do I know if I’m really getting Idaho® potatoes?

By state law the Grown in Idaho® seal must be on all bags or boxes. Check the containers. If the seal is not there, you are not getting genuine Idaho® potatoes.

Are all baking potatoes…Idaho®?

No. Only those potatoes grown in the State of Idaho can be called Idaho® potatoes. Your guarantee of genuine Idaho® product is the Grown in Idaho® seal. Even if potatoes are repacked in your local area, the repacker must be licensed in order to use the Grown in Idaho® seal.

What is the difference between Idaho® potatoes and those grown in other areas?

Moisture content. The Russet Burbank potato grown in Idaho has a high solid, low moisture content. This is often referred to as specific gravity. Idaho’s soil, climate, and controlled irrigation guarantee that the potatoes grown in Idaho will have a dry, fluffy texture—the premium properties for an excellent baked potato, crispy French fries or hash browns, or fluffy mashed potatoes.

Why do my potatoes turn gray when I bake them?

This is a possible indication that your potatoes have been refrigerated during storage. At temperatures below 42°F, when the starch turns to sugar, during the cooking process the sugars caramelize, causing the potatoes to take a darkened color.

Is it OK to use a microwave to bake potatoes?

Our age of high technology offers us many pieces of equipment to speed preparation and production of products. Microwaving a potato can change the characteristics of a normally fluffy, dry product. The molecular friction of the molecules rubbing together in the cooking process may cause the potato to take on a somewhat gummy or pasty texture. This is particularly true of a potato product that has a slightly higher moisture content. Piercing the potato in several spots before cooking helps to evaporate some excess moisture. Potatoes may also be wrapped in paper towels to absorb excess moisture while cooking.

How do I know if the potato has been refrigerated during storage?

Use a piece of diabetic (litmus) tape. Place a piece of tape on the cut surface of the potato. If the paper turns dark, this means that the sugar content of the potato is elevated, and it should not be used for cooking until it has been “cured.” This means that the potato should be left at room temperature for 5–10 days prior to using. This will allow the sugars to return to starch and reduce the possibility of darkening during cooking.

Why are my fresh French fries greasy?

Poor preparation techniques often result in poor French fry products. When preparing fresh French fries it is important to be sure that the surface of the potato is free from all moisture before it goes into the deep fat fryer. Water left on the surface of the potato creates a steam vacuum as bubbles form on the surface of the fry. This causes starch cells to expand in the potato, and fat is absorbed into these starch cells, causing the potatoes to take on the greasy characteristic. Too many fries in the basket can also “steam” the potato.

What is the reason for fries going limp?

Moisture content. If a potato has high water content and the surface is sealed during the frying process, this excess moisture is trapped inside the crispy surface, causing it to steam and making the potatoes go limp as soon as they are removed from the fryer. The best solution is to start with a potato that has high solids and low moisture content.

What is the best way to get a crispy French fry?

Preblanching French fries offers the best solution. Potatoes should be precooked at a 325°F frying temperature just until the surface of the potato begins to take on a pale color. The potatoes should then be removed and placed in a single layer on baking sheets or in plastic bus tubs. They can be held at room temperature or refrigerated until the potato is completely cooled down. During the second fry process, the fryer should be turned up to 350°F and the potato browned to the desired color. The second frying process adds a crispy coating to the surface of the potato, resulting in a French fry that will hold up well for service.

Why is it hard to get my French fries to brown, especially when the new crop comes in (in the fall)?

Early in the season, the starch content in the potato is very high. This reduces the possibility of browning because of the lack of surface sugars. Solution: Rinse the potatoes several times in water to eliminate surface starches.

Why do my fries turn very dark before they are even cooked?

This means that the potatoes have been refrigerated and that the starch has turned to sugar, causing the sugars to caramelize on cooking. A certain amount of sugar is necessary to aid in browning. However, excess sugars will darken the surface of the potato, giving the impression that the potatoes have been cooked on the inside. Solution: Since sugar is water soluble, gently rinse the potatoes in warm water to help remove the excess sugars from the surface of the potato.

Is it all right to preblanch potatoes and hold them several hours?

It is perfectly all right to hold potatoes as long as they have been completely cooked during the preblanched stage. There are two types of blackening that take place in potatoes: enzyme darkening and oxidation. Oxidation occurs when the surface of the potato is exposed to air, and the potato becomes dark. Enzyme blackening occurs when the potato has not been completely cooked through and a reaction takes place, causing the potatoes to turn dark on the inside. The preblanch phase of cooking should be done slowly and thoroughly to guarantee product quality. Most health departments will allow the preblanched potatoes to cool to room temperature, but require them to then be placed in refrigeration until the final fry usage.

Should I let my frozen French fries thaw before I fry them?

We recommend that frozen French fries be kept completely frozen before using. This guarantees that the surface of the potato is sealed during the frying process, resulting in a crispy surface and high-quality fry. Some chains thaw frozen potatoes prior to cooking. This technique—called slacking— will result in excess absorption of fat and an added flavor to the potato that may be unacceptable as a quality product.

When frozen fries seem to be broken more than usual when I open the container, what am I doing wrong?

This is a handling problem. This means that the case of potatoes has been dropped during handling and storage. A three-foot drop in a case of product can result in more than 30 percent damage to the frozen fries.

What can be done to stop fresh-cut potatoes from turning black now that sulfites or potato whiteners are banned?

There are several solutions: Simply hold the fresh cut potatoes in ice water that contains a small amount of vinegar or ascorbic acid, such as lemon juice. This will reduce the surface oxidation. Several manufacturers have products on the market to retard browning and maintain the fresh appearance of fresh-cut potato products.

What is the internal doneness temperature for a baked potato?

208°F to 211°F is the internal temperature for a perfectly done baked potato.

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