Saturday, August 13, 2011

What I'm doing with the potato harvest

We're digging spuds again.  Since we had so many volunteer plants, they are in all stages of growth.  Not necessarily a bad thing, you know?  I like to take plenty of breaks while I have stuff going.

So right now, I have 3/4 gallon of milk in the slow cooker destined to be yogurt, potatoes cooking in the microwave and potatoes cooling on the counter.  In a few minutes I'll start some dehydrated sweet potato treats for the dogs (edited to add that they aren't digging them.  O well).

I don't have a basement or cold room to store potatoes, so it's best for me to get them to the point where I can put them in the freezer.  Even if you didn't grow them yourself, if you snag a bunch on sale, here's what you can do that doesn't seem to heat up the kitchen too much:

Scrub potatoes that you're going to use right away as the peel comes off very easily when they are really fresh.
I take all the small potatoes, cut them in half or leave them whole if they're really small.  Spray a pie pan or other microwave safe shallow dish with cooking spray.  Put the potato pieces in the dish, spray them lightly with cooking spray and zap for around 8 minutes on high.  Let cool and freeze on cookie sheets (or in my case, pizza pans).  When frozen, put them in freezer bags, squeeze out the air and put them back into the freezer.  That way you can pour out as much or as little as you want and they won't all be stuck together.

The bigger potates get cut in half or quarters lengthwise, then sliced into chunks.  You can use whatever shape or size that you want, just make sure that they're all about the same size on the pan, and all the same size in the freezer bag.  You may need to adjust the time on the microwave, too.  More on the plate or bigger chunks require longer cooking time.  You just need to get them cooked about 3/4 of the way done.

The small whole potatoes (and halves) I use with roasts, pork loins, baked chicken.  I just put them in frozen when the meat is almost done.  The chunks I use when I make potato soup, cottage fries, etc.  I boil them for smashed potatoes as our bunch likes the peels in it.  I also have finished cooking them in the microwave or boiled them for potato salads.  The smaller chunks are used for southern style hash browns, other soups, etc.

You can also make a big batch of mashed potatoes and then freeze them in meal size containers.

If you don't mind turning on the oven, I have also cut long wedges of potato and diped them in melted butter.  When the pan is full, I sprinkled seasoned salt (use whatever you like) and baked at 400F until they just started to brown.  Cool and freeze in bags.

I've never tried freezing shredded potatoes.  A friend of mine tried it and the next day she had several bags of black, icky potato shreds.  I think she didn't cook them long enough but she swears that she did....??  So you're on your own with those.

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