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How to Select, Store, and Prepare Potatoes

How to Prepare Potato Tips:

  • Whether boiling, roasting steaming, mashing or baking, make sure to scrub your potatoes well and dry with a paper towel.
  • To prevent the flesh of the potato from darkening on contact with air, cook it as soon as it is cut or place it in cold water until you are ready to use it. This brief soaking will also prevent the potato from falling apart during cooking (use fresh water for cooking).
  • Use an 1/8 teaspoon to remove the eyes from the potato.

Cooking Tips

  • Choose potatoes that are all about the same size – this will ensure they are all cooked and ready to eat at the same time.
  • The smaller you cut your potatoes pieces for boiled or mashed potatoes the quicker they’ll cook. That said, the skin of a potato holds a lot of nutrients so if you are able to keep them on, all-the better! Even better, rustic style mash (that includes the skin) is delicious.
  • When mashing potatoes, allow the potatoes to steam dry in the pot you boiled them in over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.  This will remove any excess water so you have a drier, lighter mash.
  • If you’re making a lot of baked potatoes, use a muffin tin. The potatoes placed in a muffin tin will make it easier to move the potatoes in and out of the oven.
  • To quickly cook potatoes on the grill or stove top, par boil them for about 5 minutes first to speed up the cooking process.

Basic Cooking and Freezing Methods

Boiled potatoes: Potatoes should be boiled whole with their skins on, in a pot of water that covers them. However, if you keep them whole, they must be a consistent size or they will cook unevenly. Keeping the skin on also helps to trap in the goodness and prevent it from being lost into the water. If you keep the skins on for cooking, it is also advised that you serve the potatoes with the skin on as removing the skin from hot potatoes can be challenging and painful!

That said, potatoes cut into even, small pieces will boil quickly – usually in about 15 minutes. If you do this, try to use the water in a sauce or gravy. Cooking times will depend on the size of the potato, but you will know your potatoes are done when you can easily stick a fork into them.

Here’s a tip: Add your potatoes to the water before it starts boiling. This will help them cook evenly. Placing cut potatoes into the water quickly will also prevent them from browning slightly which happens when they are exposed to air.

Potatoes absorb water when they are boiled, so seasoning the water with salt will enhance their flavour. Keep an eye on your potatoes as they cook and add liquid if the water level gets too low (there should always be enough liquid to completely cover the potatoes).

Steamed potatoes: Steaming is a recommended method for thin-skinned, smaller potatoes. It is attractive and retains as much flavour from the potatoes as possible.  When you steam potatoes, pour boiling water from your kettle into the bottom of a pan fitted with a steamer (or you can boil the water in the pan). Alternatively, use a steamer and follow the directions for it’s use.

For stove-top steaming, place your potatoes in the steamer when the water is hot, sprinkle lightly with salt, replace the lid and steam over low heat for approx. 15 min. for small potatoes. Larger potatoes will take longer, up to 35 minutes.  Potatoes cut into ½ inch-thick slices are even faster, 8-10- minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and return them to the pot, covered with a clean tea towel for up to five minutes. This will help absorb any excess water.

Oven-baked potatoes: Russet potatoes are best for baking- they’ll have crisp, slightly shriveled skin and a fluffy interior. Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork. Place on a baking sheet, in a muffin tin, or on the oven rack; bake, uncovered in a 400° oven, until potatoes feel soft when squeezed (45 to 60 minutes for a 6- to 8-oz. potato). Or bake with a roast in a 325° oven for about 1½ hours.

French fries: Traditionally, Russet potatoes have been recommended for fries- crisp outside, soft inside. For each serving, peel 1 large russet potato and cut into ¼ inch strips; place in ice water while cutting additional potatoes. In a deep fryer or heavy pan, heat 2 inches of salad oil to 380°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Drain potatoes and pat dry with paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in a 300° oven for up to 30 minutes.

Oven-baked potatoes: Russet potatoes are the best for baking, as they have thick skins and have a starchy interior which has a sweet flavor and fluffy texture when baked. Russets are also typically fairly large, which makes for an ideal serving size. However, because they are absorbent, russets are not usually recommended for casseroles like scalloped potatoes.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Scrub the potatoes under running water, remove any eyes, and trim off any blemishes with a pairing knife. Prick the potato with a fork a few times, this will allow the steam to escape. Cook potatoes for about 45 minutes, flipping them over every 20 minutes. Depending on the size of the potato the baking time will change.  Potatoes are done when the skins are dry and they can be easily pierced by a fork.

Microwave-baked potatoes: Pierce the whole unpeeled potato several times to allow the steam to escape during cooking, and place it on a paper towel. Cook it on high for 3 or 4 minutes (if microwaving more than one potato at a time, then increase cooking time). If the microwave does not have a turntable, turn the potato once during cooking. Let the potato cool for 2 minutes, wrapped in a paper towel, before serving it.

How to Freeze: We do not recommend that you freeze fresh potatoes however, once cooked, they can be frozen in an air-tight container and enjoyed later.

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