How do we love thee, potatoes? Let us count the ways. You’re delicious when mashed, fried, baked or smashed, and the perfect vehicle for butter and cheese. You offer a healthy dose of fiber and starchy satisfaction that even the gluten-free crowd can get in on. The only thing we don’t love about our spuds? The time it takes to scrub, peel and cook them. Fortunately, we have an easy fix: Learn how to freeze potatoes so you can front-load the work and dish up tasty tubers whenever you want without the onerous mealtime prep.
1. Set up a blanching station
The key to freezing potatoes, like other vegetables, is to blanch them first. This quick dip into scalding water will deactivate the enzymes that cause spoiling, as well as the loss of flavor and nutrients. So before you turn your attention to your spuds, set yourself up for blanching success. First, fill a large stockpot two-thirds full of cold water and add one to two tablespoons of kosher salt. Place the pot on the stove over high heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Now, complete your station by preparing the ice bath. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes, add some cold water and position the ice bath somewhere near the stockpot so you don’t have to travel too far with a hot potato (or five pounds of ‘em).
2. Prep the potatoes
Now that you’ve set yourself up like a pro, it’s time to get those taters ready. Start by washing the spuds, scrubbing any stubborn dirt or sprouts from the skin with a stiff brush. When your potatoes are squeaky clean, they’re ready for blanching. Shouldn’t you peel and chop? Well, that depends on the type of potato and how you plan on using it. Russet potatoes often warrant the extra prep work since their bigger size means blanching will take longer when left whole. You may also want to peel this potato due to the rough texture of its skin. Fingerlings, baby red, white and Yukon Gold potatoes do not need to be peeled (but Yukon Golds may benefit from a quick chop if they are on the larger side). If you decide to cut up your spuds, aim for consistency and pick a shape that suits your potato preference. (For example, julienne if you see French fries in your future or go for one-inch cubes if you’re a fan of stews and roasts.)
3. Blanch the potatoes
Carefully lower potatoes into the boiling water and leave them there to cook for a few minutes. Blanching time depends on the size of the spud—baby potatoes, or any potato that has been cut in one-inch thick pieces, should blanch for three to five minutes from the moment they hit the water. (Note: If you’re freezing a sizable sack of spuds, it’s best to blanch in batches to maintain the boiling temperature of the water.)
4. Cool the potatoes
After the prescribed amount of scalding time has passed, quickly pull your potatoes from the stockpot with a small mesh strainer. Then, send your spuds as quickly as possible to the prepared ice bath where they will chill for the next five to ten minutes. While you wait for the potatoes to cool, periodically stir the ice bath and add more ice cubes as needed.
5. Store and freeze potatoes
When potatoes have cooled completely, remove them from the ice bath and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Transfer the taters to a cookie sheet and freeze for three to six hours before spooning your spuds into plastic freezer bags for long-term storage. Remember to squeeze out any excess air before sealing to help prevent freezer burn. Tuck each bag into the back of the freezer where your taters will stay preserved for up to three months.
How to Use Frozen Potatoes
The wonderful thing about having frozen potatoes on hand is that you don’t have to waste any time thawing them, and they’re as versatile as when they were fresh.
- Kickstart your morning with a hearty breakfast hash. Toss diced, frozen spuds into a cast-iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Then, add farm-fresh scrambled eggs to start your day right.
- Add frozen potatoes to your slow-cooker stew. Have a handsome roast braising in the Crock-Pot? Add your ice-cold taters just as you would any fresh vegetable—preferably towards the end of the cooking time, for meat that’s falling off the bone and potatoes that are pleasantly firm.
- If mashed potatoes are a family favorite, pour a bag of frozen spuds straight into a pot of salted, boiling water and cook them until tender. Then, whip up your once-frozen potatoes with copious amounts of cream and butter for a classic, decadent side dish that never disappoints.