When our Canadian winter weather showed we were colder than the North Pole I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found myself with 20 pounds of potatoes frozen in my garage cupboard.
I have come to dread the introduction of new weather terms such as…. polar vortex. And Winter Bomb Cyclone is even worse. The North East USA experienced one this past week and wind chill was predicted to be up to -100 degrees Fahrenheit!! Some East coast friends reported the siding blew off their house!
So… my frozen potatoes don’t seem like much of a tragedy compared to that. But… my curiosity was piqued and I didn’t want to deal with 20 pounds of thawed, mushy potatoes in my garage until garbage day. So I went to work.
I peeled the red potatoes. I had a sink of warm water beside me so I could thaw my hand out because holding frozen potatoes gets pretty numbing. Or..you could use a kitchen glove for a bit of insulation.
Suggestions on the internet are that you must cook them from frozen ie. don’t let them thaw into a soggy mess. I dropped them whole into a dutch oven of water. I needed a few pots to hold them so it is best to try to group them in similar sizes so their cook time will be close.
I did end up checking and removing smaller potatoes first, drained and mashed them while hot. When the last of the pot was cooked I drained them and mashed them in the dutch oven over the element. The element was turned off but the residual heat helped to dry the mash out.
The only difference I found was that the potatoes were ‘wetter’ while cooking. The whole potatoes had a tendency to split when I was testing them with a fork for doneness. Based on that I think that is why the recommendation is to mash them. Mashing them in the hot pot over the residual heat also helps to dry them up.
I sampled plain mashed with butter and salt and pepper and… guess what… they were fine! I would not have known from the taste or texture that they started out frozen.
Since I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out I also made this version of Celeriac, Parnsip Mashed Potato with Frizzled Leeks, thinking they may need some help to improve the texture or taste. The recipe turned out fine.
I also made the Muffin Tin Mashed Potatoes, again thinking that the additions might disguise a few sins. They turned out fine as well.
The upshot is the mashed potatoes didn’t need to be ‘disguised’ in any way. However, I had a lot of potato dishes on the go and I know the Celeriac, Parsnip Mashed Potatoes and the Muffin Tin Mashed Potatoes both freeze and reheat well. I don’t think I have ever frozen and reconstituted just plain mashed potatoes. If any one know how that works please let me know!
Round 2 was to try to rescue the frozen Russet potatoes. I scrubbed them in cool water to get the skins clean, gave them a good pricking with a fork and put them on a rack over a pan with foil. The skin and outer potato started to soften so I wasn’t sure how these were going to end up. I baked them at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes. They did release some liquid during the baking, more than I have typically seen, so the foil bottom pan was a good choice. I put them on a rack just in case they oozed liquid, I didn’t want them to get soggy.
Result? They were fine! I sampled them with just plain butter and salt and pepper. The potato was a bit creamier than what you might think of for a Russet. Large russets can be dry and fluffy/crumbly. These were medium size russets – so younger potatoes. I am not sure if it was the size/age of the potato or the freezing that made them ‘creamy’ but they were good!
Note however – the baked potatoes did not fare well as leftovers. They were a bit dry and hard upon reheating.
So the upshot is – if you can cook them from frozen they are not lost. I won’t go into detail but upon thawing they were not pretty. My garbage bags this week were very, very heavy……my compliments to Hefty Garbage Bag company!