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Can You Freeze Dry Hashbrowns
One of my favorite go-to’s is freeze dried hashbrowns.
As a mom one of my favorite things to do is to feed my family. It’s crazy to think I have to figure out how to feed a small army. Whether it’s during the every day life I have ahead of me with a full refrigerator and a store within 30 minutes or to somehow find a way when the going is rough and there’s no power or no way to get to fresh food. Even if we’re out camping or hunting, I want the option to feed my family delicious food.
As long as I take easy-to-plan steps with the food that I do have now, or make small investments when I go to the store every week, I can prepare packages of food so that my kids can have hashbrowns and eggs and even sausage when other people might be scavenging for bark. This is possible, people! You have no idea what kind of horror stories I’ve heard!
How Can I Do This On A Budget?
When you have a major holiday coming up – like right now with Thanksgiving – there are deals on specific foods. For instance, potatoes are on a huge sales. I got a 10 pound bag of potatoes for $0.99 at a local grocery store. There was no limit on how many I could buy. So, I bought 10.
Yep, I brought home 100 pounds of potatoes. Eek!
Potatoes are easy to prepare!
Do this at night! After making dinner, maybe right before you get to settle down for the night.
So what I do with a bag of potatoes first is wash them! Not with soap or anything like that, but I just give them a good scrubbing under some cool to lukewarm water.
Then, I lay them out on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. I somehow got stuck with this horribly messy looking pan. I think my daughter put it in the dishwasher!
PRO TIP: You don’t wash aluminum pans in the dishwasher. You just don’t.
Then you take a fork and stab each potato about 4 times. I had my 6-year-old help me and he went ballistic on some of them. It was fun, but wow. Bandaids might have been involved.
Once the potatoes are stabbed and spread out on the parchment paper, you want to put them into the oven on 350 degrees for one hour. Then shut off the oven, but don’t take them out. Don’t even open the door to check on them. Trust me, there’s nothing to see!
You’ll leave them in the oven overnight to finish cooking and to cool.
Then, the next morning (or whenever you get a chance the next day), you’ll pull out your tray! This is how they’ll look.
Um, hopefully your tray looks cleaner than mine. Thank goodness for parchment paper, is all I have to say.
Why Shredded Potatoes?
I like shredded hashbrowns because they seem to reconstitute easily without having to add water. I like to put them into a frying pan or a Dutch Oven and add in peppers, oil, and sometimes chunks of meat. As the steam from the peppers (usually fresh or frozen here) rises and mixes with the hashbrowns, the freeze dried hashbrowns reconstitute without getting soggy.
But first, let’s talk about how to finish preparing them.
You don’t need to cut up the potatoes or anything. Just grab a sturdy grater and position it inside a deep enough container. You can see the Tupperware I used here. Then you start grating.
For the most part, the skin of the potato sloughs off and you don’t usually have too much in the potatoes themselves. Be careful as you grate so you don’t get your own skin in the sharp parts of the tool.
At the end of preparing the homemade hashbrowns, you can see how the skin kind of stays together and then you can just toss it in the garbage or throw it into the chicken bowl (we have a bowl on our counter where we toss extra or castoffs that aren’t wanted that we take out to the hens every evening).
Don’t forget to line the pan with parchment paper or the silicone tray mats you have.
The potatoes are already fairly dry after being cooked, but they’re not ready to be packaged yet. You want to freeze dry them to make sure they stay good for you to cook with later.
Once the homemade hashbrowns run through their load, you can pull them out and feel how light and flaky they are. You’ll package them like you would just about anything else and make sure to label them. Don’t forget to include shredded or cubed or whatever state you’re storing them.
They remind me of the hashbrowns you can buy in boxes at the store.
Potatoes have to be cooked – baked or boiled – before they can be frozen, freeze dried, or even dehydrated. The carbohydrates/starches in the potatoes will turn grayish black, if you don’t do the proper baking before doing this. The baking and cooling is the easiest method to prepare potatoes versus boiling or something else.
You can use pre-frozen hashbrowns from the store. Just dump the bags onto the lined trays and put them into the freeze dryer. They aren’t homemade, but sometimes those sales are more appealing then homemade. I’m all about easy and cheap. I’m a MOM!
Potatoes stacked this way seem to take about 18 hours from start to finish. I don’t pre-freeze them unless I’m waiting for a load to finish or I’ve made too many for the load that I’m currently filling.
Breaking “rules, is kind of my thing and I don’t stop at the tray height when I fill the trays. I usually go about half an inch over it. With potatoes being as light as they are and prepared this way, they aren’t sticky and they separate very easily. I don’t feel like I have to stick to a thin layer which means I can get more done in a shorter amount of time.
I love the way these turn out. My husband doubted me, until I served a full course breakfast complete with hashbrowns, bacon, and eggs – all from my food storage/freeze dried collection.
I think I won him over at that point. What can I say? Potatoes are a great, cheap way of filling your shelves.
These type of hashbrowns – shredded – have multi-purposes. They can be used in:
- Funeral Potatoes
- Potato casseroles
- Soups requiring potatoes like chowders, and more.
Chopped and sliced potatoes are a little bit more limiting, but still easily used.
Do you have any tips to add to the ones stated above for freeze dried hashbrowns?
How do I freeze dry potatoes?
Many people think it’s next to impossible to do the freeze drying for themselves. This is far from factual. Freeze drying at home is made easy by Harvest Right. They sell three different sizes of freeze-drying machines that do everything in the machine – except prep and package.
That’s up to you.
For all intents and purposes, here at Freeze Drying Mama we use the medium sized freeze dryer. You can check out the sizes offered at Harvest Right here.
What this machine does is first freeze the items on stainless steel trays to -41 degrees or lower. This takes about 10 hours or so.
Then a vacuum pump turns on and creates a vacuum inside the drum. This is the drying stage and will vacillate the heat of the tray up and down to a pretty warm temperature. This makes the frozen items release any water in them in vapor form. The vacuum sucks the moisture to the drum and this collects in ice form on the inner circle of the drum.
Then there’s the final dry which is essentially the same thing, but with a time associated with it and an end in sight!
What settings do I use for freeze drying shredded potatoes?
On the Harvest Right freeze drier – this works on all sizes – after putting the trays inside the drum on the shelves, I put in the drum cover and then tighten the handle as I lock it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START > NON-LIQUID > NOT FROZEN > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube was closed, I walked away.