Between the farmers’ market, the food co-op, and my surprisingly successful potato harvest, I have acquired more potatoes than I can use. And between the stifling summertime humidity and lack of air conditioning, the potatoes have not been stored in ideal conditions, thus they are not keeping as well as potatoes typically do.
What to do?
Can I can potatoes?
Not without a pressure canner.
Can I dry potatoes?
Have you ever bought a box of potatoes au gratin mix? With the packet of powdered cheese? Go ahead, admit it…
Indeed, you can dry potatoes!
So, I set about expunging all hydration from those little taters so I could keep them well into the winter.
This site helped me along with the process, which is basically 1) wash 2) slice 3) parboil 4) slow cook in the oven.
I did two separate batches on two consecutive nights. The first night I unintentionally skipped the parboil step. Would it still work? This turned into an unintentional experiment. After about 4 hours of cooking on the lowest setting, most of the potatoes slices were crisp. You need them to be brittle—no give whatsoever—to avoid moldy potatoes.
The next night I remembered to incorporate the parboiling step. I thought, “Hey! Maybe this time they’ll cook faster!” Not so. They actually took longer and were more transparent and less attractive. Next time I think I’ll skip the parboiling step as it didn’t improve the end product.
In the end, I turned on-the-verge-of-bad potatoes into future homemade potato soups and potatoes au gratin. Success! Well, almost… The potatoes are stored in a jar and show no signs of moisture. But, I am wondering about a precautionary step. I am wondering about those little silica packets or cylinders that come in bottles of medication or vitamins. Ya know, the ones that say, “DO NOT EAT.” Would one of those placed in the jar be safe and/or effective? I would think if they are safe to store with pills—pills that you ingest—they would be safe to store with potato slices…right? Should I ever trust the pharmaceutical industry? For now I have put a few grains of rice in the jar, but am curious about the silica method. Anybody out there have any experience with this or any ideas?