Potatoes are versatile and well-loved. Who can imagine a world without baked potato, homemade fries, mashed potato, potato salad, hashbrowns, and more? When stored correctly, they keep for months, but can they be prepped ahead of time?
To store cut potatoes for later use, they should be prepared first. Peel, cut, and submerge potatoes in water, then store in the refrigerator about 8 – 24 hours before cooking. For long-term storage, peel, cut, and parboil the potatoes, then place them in the deep freezer for a few months.
Most recipes that use potatoes call for them to be peeled, sliced, or diced—a chore, it takes a few minutes or much more time, depending on the number of potatoes needed. So, how do you save yourself some time?
The Best Way to Store Cut Potatoes
Choose from two methods to store your cut potatoes – based on the length of time you want to store them.
Option 1: Using them within 24hours? Prepare potato cuts as per the recipe and refrigerate the portion amount as per the below storage method.
Option 2: Need to keep long term? To store for months, cut, dice, or slice potatoes and freeze them after parboiling.
The Best Way to Store Cut Potatoes for Boiling
A proven method to save time in the kitchen, which worked for our grandmothers, is keeping chopped potatoes covered in water to prevent enzymatic browning or oxidation. Add refrigeration, and it becomes a game-changer, especially for cooks who include potatoes in meals several times a week.
Nothing is easier! Start by cleaning the potatoes. Use a bowl filled with water and lightly scrub each potato to remove dirt residue. Give the spuds a final rinse under cool running water; dice, slice, or chop as directed in the recipe.
When storing potatoes in water, there is a caveat: The larger the cut, the longer they can be kept in water – up to a maximum of 24 hours. It works well for whole or larger cubes and cuts, but not as well as for diced. For smaller diced pieces, it’s better to cut and use them straight away.
This method is best used for boiling potatoes in stews, not fried or oven-baked. It works best with larger varieties, such as Russets and Yukon gold.
What you need:
- Peeled (or not) potatoes as per your recipe
- A colander
- A bowl to hold the volume of potatoes you need and enough water to cover them. Glass or plastic containers are preferable.
- Fill the bowl at least halfway with cold water.
- As you finish cutting each potato, transfer it to the water-filled bowl.
- When complete, rinse the cut potatoes once using the colander.
- Return rinsed potatoes to the bowl add enough cold water to cover them well. Optionally, add ice if the water is at room temperature.
- Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for a maximum of 24 hours for larger cut cooking potatoes. The ideal time to drain the water from the potato and cook them is between 8-10 hours.
When it’s time to cook with the potatoes, drain and rinse once again with cold water; rinsing the potatoes twice with water will remove excess starch, which will help them cook better.
Refrigerating potatoes for more than 24 hours will weaken the texture of the potato to such an extent that it’s only good for mashing.
Lemon, Vinegar, or Salt to Keep Spuds from Browning
Often, it’s advised to add lemon juice or vinegar to the potato water bath to prevent browning. Although acidic additives help reduce browning, adding them can have unintended consequences: an altered taste.
For instance, the spud could take on an acidic flavor if you soak the cuts for too long with the acidic additives. If you don’t soak them long enough or use too little lemon juice or vinegar to prevent flavor change, they will brown. So, how to solve this problem? By using a saltwater brine bath. This method is ideal for prepping for roasting and frying potatoes.
The Best Way to Store Cut Potatoes for Roasting and Frying
So, how to food prep for favorite frying or roasting dishes without compromising potato quality? By using the salty water short soak method.
A simple 10-minute soak in a salted water mix prevents browning, and it won’t saturate the potatoes as lengthy soaking does or leave a salty aftertaste.
What you need:
- Peeled (or not) potatoes as per your recipe
- A colander
- Kosher salt and water. Varies on the number of potatoes you have:
- 1/2 teaspoon salt-to-1 cup water ratio (or 4 teaspoons of salt per 1/2 gallon of water
- A bowl to hold the volume of potatoes you need and cover them in water. Glass or plastic containers are preferable.
- Airtight storage container
After soaking the potatoes in saltwater, rinse them to remove any salt residue and let them air dry. Store the potatoes for up to 12 hours in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
No need to rinse again. Just follow your recipe and enjoy!
How to Store Cut Potatoes in the Freezer
Freezing is the best method for storing peeled and cut potatoes for between three and six months. The best advantage to using this method is that you are saving on cooking time in the future. Before freezing, potatoes must be parboiled to freeze well and retain their quality for cooking.
How to Parboil Potatoes for Freezing
- Peel (or don’t) the potatoes and cut them into the size and shape of your choice.
- Drop the potatoes into boiling water and parboil until almost cooked, tender but still on the firmer side.
- The size of the potato chunks will determine the boiling time; a couple of minutes is perfect for small diced potatoes, whereas up to 10 minutes for larger potato chunks is recommended.
Raw potatoes have a high water content; therefore, they do not freeze well and might become mushy, watery, or even stringy. Cooking before freezing may appear to be a lot of work but consider it a time saver.
Partially cooked potatoes take less time in the oven, which is especially useful when cooking for many people, and several dishes are contesting oven space.
How to Freeze Parboiled Potatoes for Boiling
The process is simple:
- Arrange potatoes on a tray without letting them touch each other.
- Pop the potatoes into the freezer for about six to 12 hours.
- Transfer to a resealable freezer bag, remove excess air, label, and pop back into the freezer.
Label the bag with date frozen and type of potato cut before filling. It’s so much easier to write on a flat surface.
Freeze Parboiled Potatoes for Roasting
When you expect to roast or fry potatoes, coat them in oil after the parboiling process – once cooled to the touch.
Arrange the roasties or chips on a tray and pop them into the freezer. When potatoes are frozen solid (about six to 12 hours), transfer to a Ziplock freezer bag, remove excess air, label, and return to the freezer.
Freezing home-cut items for frying is a risky business and does not always provide the best quality chip, but it can be done.
Cooking Potatoes from Frozen
There is no need to defrost cut potatoes before cooking them, even for roasting or frying.
How to Cook Par-Boiled Potatoes from Frozen
Smaller pieces, such as chopped potato, won’t need to be defrosted because the cooking process will do it for you. Drop them into boiling water or into the food you’re cooking until they’re done.
Defrost larger chunks by placing them in the refrigerator overnight. Then, in a pot of boiling water, finish cooking the parboiled potatoes until they are fully done, drain, and use. Alternatively, add the thawed-out potatoes directly to the dish you are cooking.
How to Cook Roast Potatoes/Fries from Frozen
For the best results, roast or fry potatoes straight from the freezer. Place potatoes in a preheated oven at the same temperature, as usual, adding 10-15 minutes to the cooking time for roasted potato.
Fry chips straight from the freezer.
Freeze and Microwave Roasted Potatoes
An alternative way of storing roasted potato pieces is to partially roast them as a first step, then freeze the cooled potatoes and finish them off in the microwave when needed.
- Roast the potato pieces in oil for half to three-quarters of the recommended time. Let them cool completely.
- Spread the prepped pieces on a lined baking sheet in a single layer, spaced not to touch each other, and freeze solid before sealing in a freezer-friendly container or bag.
- Pop them in the microwave from frozen and finish off by heating and cooking them through.
A good guideline is to microwave at 75% power (800 Watts) until thawed out. Remove any water the potatoes may have released. After that, cook at 100% for a few minutes until cooked through. Keep the dish covered while cooking and check on it constantly. It is easy to overdo the potatoes. They become hard and unpalatable when overdone.
Using this method gives you something of a roasted taste to the potato. It’s not crisp and creamy but can become soft without being stringy.
How to Store Cut Potatoes: Your Questions Answered
Why do potatoes sometimes turn brown before cooking? Browning occurs when vegetables and fruits are sliced or peeled, and the PPO (polyphenol oxidase) enzyme reacts with oxygen.
A huge dish of cold water will stop enzymatic browning in its tracks. Add enough water to cover the skinned or cut potatoes in the mixing basin. The water acts as a barrier between the potatoes and the air, ending the reaction immediately.
The water you’ve covered potatoes with has turned brown: Simply rinse and replace with clean water. The potatoes are not compromised in any way.
It occasionally happens that the water used to store potatoes in the refrigerator turns brown. It can happen within minutes and has to do with enzyme function, not decomposition.
Help, the potatoes turn brown during cooking. If refrigerated potatoes brown during cooking, don’t be worried. The response which causes the potatoes to be brown does not make them unfit to consume.
The starch in potatoes begins to convert into sugar after a few hours of exposure to cold temperatures. This sugar caramelizes and darkens, turning the potatoes brown. Caramelisation may slightly alter the taste of the potatoes.
Why can’t potatoes be kept in the refrigerator water-bath for longer? Don’t store large cut potatoes in the water longer than overnight, or smaller cut longer than 8 to 12 hours.
If the potatoes are left for longer in the refrigerator they will start to develop a slightly sweet flavor, and their structure weakens – good for mashing, bad for frying and roasting. Large cut potatoes can withstand up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Can potatoes go bad when frozen? Freezing raw potatoes is difficult. They don’t spoil but can look unappetizingly brown.
Can raw potatoes be frozen as is? This is not recommended. After being thawed and cooked, their texture and flavor suffer.
Par-boiling solves this issue. Potatoes freeze better when they are freshly harvested or bought. When cut or shredded, cooked potatoes freeze well for a few weeks but lose their flavor rapidly.
Covering in clingwrap: Leaving peeled or cut potatoes at room temperature or on the refrigerator shelf wrapped only in foil or plastic cling wrap will not prevent them from turning brown overnight.
The Difference Between Blanching and Parboiling
Some root vegetables freeze well after being blanched. Others, like the potato, need to be parboiled to freeze successfully. So what is the difference between the blanching and parboiling process?
|Why:||Blanching prevents enzymes from causing flavor, color, and texture loss with minimal cooking. Only the outermost layer is cooked.||Parboiling is cooking something in boiling water to give it a head start. Typically, the purpose is to cook an item to speed up the cooking time for some following cooking method|
|How:||A few seconds to a minute dip in already boiling water, followed by a dip in ice water to halt any further cooking||Boil an ingredient just until it is soft but not cooked through.|
|Uses||Often used for vegetables that will be eaten raw or stored in the freezer.||Ensures that the ingredients that take longer to cook will be soft or completely done when a recipe calls for many ingredients.|
Whole potatoes keep for months under the right conditions. That must be a dark place with relatively high humidity and temperatures between 42° and 55°F. Don’t have such a place available?
Then storing potatoes for longer periods will require prepping, followed by refrigeration or freezing.
The refrigerated raw potato should be used within 8 to 24 hours, depending on the size of the cut.
Freezing entails chopping to size and parboiling potatoes, cooling and freezing portion sizes. The faster stored cut potatoes are used, the better the chance of a good texture and taste.
Save time pre-preparing for potato-based dishes, whether for feeding a crowd or meal prepping for yourself in a hurry. Grab what you need from the fridge or freezer and boil, ovenbake or fry.
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.