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Freeze Dry Potatoes For Your Food Storage
There was a cute movie that came out in the early 80’s called Savannah Smiles. You know how certain quotes from movies stay with your family for years? Well, there’s one from that movie that stuck! It’s where the one guy went on and on about how good the potatoes were: “Ain’t them good taters, Alby”?
There’s probably not one time that I have fixed mashed potatoes or au gratin potatoes (in our family they’re called “old rotten potatoes”) that I haven’t heard those words: “Ain’t them good taters, Alby”!
Being raised with 5 brothers, we had potatoes for dinner a lot. How else can you keep 5 growing boys filled up! With our 4 sons we relied on potatoes as a staple as well. And then, of course we live in IDAHO —so that’s what we do!
How Can I Use Freeze Dried Potatoes?
Potatoes are very versatile. With or without skins, they can be baked, boiled, roasted, fried, broiled, deep fried, barbequed, etc.
They are loaded with vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Niacin, and Folate. They are rich in compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids which act as antioxidants in the body. And they are also beneficial in helping to control blood sugar.
The skin of the potato contains most of the nutrients as well as fiber. My kids will attest that I always said to them, “eat your fiber” when we had baked potatoes! The variety of potatoes and the way they’re prepared can affect how many nutrients you get from it, however. The colored ones, like purple or yellow potatoes contain more nutrients.
My First Time Freeze Drying Potatoes
The first time I freeze dried potatoes, I did as Bonnie suggested. I baked them for an hour before bed, turned off the oven and just left them overnight to cool and set up. Then, in the morning I started shredding with the skins on to make hash browns (the skins just fall away).
I froze them first on cookie sheets because all 12 of my HarvestRight trays were being used. Perhaps my potatoes were beginning to get soft, because I thought they were kind of gummy. They seemed to freeze dry okay however and tasted good. Next time I’ll try fresher potatoes.
What Can You Make With Baked Potato Skins?
I love potato skin hors d ‘Oeuvres, so as I did it, I made sure I left about half of the peel with a bit of potato on it to make those. Just place the potato skins in a Pam sprayed sheet pan, add real bacon bits, & green onion in the potato skin. Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top and bake just until cheese is melty. They are a great snack that utilizes the nutrients you might normally throw away.
How Can You Prepare Potatoes For Freeze Drying?
Next, I experimented with boiling them as I do for potato salad and then peeling after they cooled. I wanted to slice and then freeze dry them. I have always kept cans of sliced potatoes to make a quick Creamed Peas & Potatoes side dish (we’ve included this recipe in the vault to share with you) so I wanted to see what cooked, sliced potatoes would be like freeze dried! They can be used in scalloped potatoes and au gratin potatoes as well.
They actually turned out fine. I think they could get broken and be a little bit crumbly stored in the Mylar bags if not protected (I use Costco’s storage bins that stack, to help protect them from mice and from being crushed.) And I believe that any of the potatoes I’ve done could actually be powdered and turned into mashed potatoes without much effort at all! They taste great!
I love soups and many that I make include potatoes. As I think about the state of our country and how things might be, I can see myself making a lot of stews, soups, etc. I am freeze drying things that I can grab a handful of this and that–throw in some potato chunks and have a good, easy soup or stew. I’ll share a couple of our family favorites in the vault: Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup & Creamy Dill Pickle Soup.
How Do I Blanch Freeze Dried Potatoes?
So, next I peeled russet potatoes, cubed them, put them into salt water as I went, so they didn’t turn dark. I blanched them for the recommended 3 minutes, strained and put them into cold water before placing them on trays to freeze dry..
After doing about 5 lbs I noticed that the starch was getting worse (because it was boiling over) AND dark spots were appearing on the potatoes! They actually turned black! That looked so unappetizing!
I didn’t know what to do so I just put them in the freeze dryer anyway. They tasted fine, but I ended up tossing many of the blackened ones because they just looked gross!
How Can I Fix This?
That made me determined to get it figured out. I wanted them to be semi-cooked so they could continue cooking in the soups. As I researched, I came to the conclusion that starch was definitely a problem and I felt that I needed to cook them longer as well.
So, now with some yellow potatoes, I peeled and put them into a bowl of salted water. I then added them to boiling water in my blancher, covered and let them boil for 10 minutes (I set the timer).
After that time, I drained and ran cold water over them for several minutes to remove the starch. I immediately put NEW water into my blancher to start boiling for the next batch.
Then I placed the rinsed cubed potatoes into a bowl of cold salted water for a few minutes. Remember, my goal was to keep them looking beautifully appetizing!
Then I strained those well and put them onto cookie sheets to freeze in the freezer. (As usual, all of my HarvestRight trays were already prepped with other things and in the HarvestRight or in my freezer. So, with parchment in between, I stacked them pretty good.
They Turned Out Great
Luckily, they were easy to break apart and place on my HarvestRight trays when they became available. The potatoes looked beautiful as I put them on trays and still after they were frozen..
So, that’s the process I will use from now on. I think I could even use them in a potato salad, lightly spraying and mostly using mayo to rehydrate them. As I think about it, a little pickle juice with mayo would also help it along!
My family and I love potatoes. They are very inexpensive, they are filling and nutritious and always a comfort food. I plan to freeze dry many more in different ways.
“Ain’t them good taters, Alby?”
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. 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 TO FREEZE DRY 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 (unless they are) > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube was closed, I walked away.