When it comes to all of the different ways that you can work with a single ingredient, there are very few foods that live up to the legacy of the potato.
Potatoes are rich in nutrients and their simple nature makes them incredibly versatile for cooking. You can roast them, bake them, fry them, and do just about anything in between to your potatoes to ensure that they come out exactly the way you want them to.
However, much as with other perishable goods, potatoes will not last forever when you are not making use of them. Whether you have some potatoes that you aren’t quite sure what to do with or you have a batch of leftover potatoes from a meal, you are going to come across a situation where you will need to preserve the potatoes.
The Problem with the Fridge
With most perishable foods in the same category as potatoes (often called a vegetable, though nutritionally it isn’t), people would think to store the potato in the fridge first to preserve it but this may not be the best course of action.
As a general rule of thumb, potatoes really shouldn’t be stored in the fridge, unless they are in a dish that otherwise needs to be refrigerated due to even more perishable ingredients such as eggs or milk.
This is because potatoes require a cool, yet dry environment for storage and when you store potatoes in the fridge, the environment will end up increasing the amount of a particular sugar in the potato as well as the naturally occurring acrylamide.
Acrylamide is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in starchy foods that have been cooked at a high temperature, such as potatoes. It has been shown that acrylamide can cause cancer in other animals so there is a belief that it may also cause harm to human health as well.
The typical amount of acrylamide that is found in your normal baked potato is going to be so minimal that it is inconsequential; however, when you store potatoes in the fridge, the environment will encourage even more acrylamide to be produced.
For the sake of your own health, you should not store potatoes in the fridge unless they are a part of a dish that needs to be put into the fridge for other reasons.
In these cases, these dishes will often not last long enough for acrylamide to be produced in overly harmful amounts. It is simply just good practice and habit to not put your potatoes in the fridge if you can help it.
In terms of storing your potatoes, this leaves only two places in your kitchen: the pantry and the freezer. Potatoes can last between three to four weeks on the countertop, provided it is in a cool, dark, and dry location, but if you have cooked, cut, or peeled the potato in any way, you will want to store it in the freezer instead.
There are actually quite a few methods to choose from when freezing your potatoes and it will depend on the state and condition of the potatoes in question.
So, if you cannot store plain potatoes in the fridge and the skin of the potato has been broken (or you simply will not make use of it in the next three to four weeks), you will need to store the potato in the freezer if you want to preserve it.
Normally, when storing vegetable-adjacent plants in the freezer, you will want to blanch them to preserve their quality, but this isn’t always an option with potatoes.
The way that you freeze your potatoes is going to depend almost entirely on what type of potato you are working with and what condition it may be in. The way you would freeze a potato when preparing it for a roast is vastly different than how you would freeze mashed potatoes.
Unfortunately, this also means that there isn’t one universal method that you can rely on for preserving your potatoes; however, in the long run, it will be well worth learning how to freeze each form of potato. You never know when you may need to preserve your potatoes.
Let’s begin with one of the most basic forms of a potato that people prepare: mashed potatoes. Unlike most other forms of potato, you aren’t going to have to blanch mashed potatoes when you put them in the freezer as they no longer require blanching to preserve quality. The way that mashed potatoes are cooked, they will be able to be preserved without any hindrances.
In order to successfully freeze it, you will want to prepare and cook the potatoes as you normally would. You do not need to take any extra steps if you know that you are going to be freezing a portion of these potatoes.
When your mashed potatoes are done, you can simply spoon them into airtight freezer bags or into portion-sized dishes.
Some people may keep all of the mashed potatoes in the same container; this is fine, although it may be harder to separate a single serving size out when you are ready to thaw it.
Mashed potatoes can last about six months in the freezer before the texture will change and they will become almost a different dish than what you are used to. When you are ready to make use of the potato, you can remove it from the freezer and thaw them out in the fridge.
When they are thawed out, you can put them into the oven or microwave to reheat; from there, you will be ready to serve them up.
Next up is going to be stuffed potatoes, which may also go by the name of twice-baked potatoes. As with the mashed potatoes, you will want to prepare and cook these potatoes as you normally would.
Keep in mind that the more cheese or sour cream that you include with the stuffed potatoes, the more freezer-friendly they will become and they will have an easier time in the freezer.
Once the potatoes are fully cooked, you will want to wrap them individually with either foil or a plastic wrap before putting them into an airtight freezer bag. Twice-baked potatoes can last for about three months in the freezer unless there is an ingredient in them that would go bad sooner than that.
Thawing the twice-baked potatoes involves moving them to the fridge to thaw out before heating them up in the oven or microwave before serving.
Baked potatoes will freeze in the same way, though they will not last quite as long in terms of quality.
This means that while the potato itself will probably last around three months or so, the taste and texture of the potato are going to deteriorate more quickly, meaning that it will not be the same condition as it was when you first put it in the freezer despite being completely safe to eat.
These are just a few of the methods that you can consider for freezing your potatoes. In general, if you can get away without blanching the potatoes, then you can often just seal the potatoes in an airtight container when you are putting them in the freezer.
Only certain forms of potatoes can handle not being blanched, though, and this is something that you will need to be mindful of when you are preparing your meals and thinking about what you can and cannot preserve for the next few months.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.