Thanksgiving Appropriate: On Potatoes


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“Soak potatoes in cold water for 20-30 minutes before cooking” – said my very Japanese aunt to me. Of course I didn’t question her, she’s the one who taught me how to cook.

I’ve been following her directions all my life, but I never understood why I was soaking the pre-cooked potatoes.

This year, I am in charge of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. My mashed potatoes are always a hit, and even the pickiest eater compliments them. I finally Googled why potatoes should be soaked before cooking and here’s what I found out:

  • To prevent browning. Like apples, potatoes turn brown when skin is peeled and innards hits air
  • For soups and stews, soaking in water reduces starch and helps keep the shape while cooking

Oh. So there are good reasons (duh.)

My mashed potato recipe, I just use the basic: milk, butter, salt and pepper. No fancy sea salts, herbs, cheese, etc., for me…but a few tips for mashed potatoes:

  • Before pre heating, spot the pot with liquid (milk, cream or water) and butter
  • When adding milk or cream, simmer — do not boil. This helps with consistency of the texture
  • To prevent glue-y mashed potatoes, use up and down motion instead of stirring. Over mixing can also cause a sticky, paste like consistency
  • Butter should be room temperature before adding to the potatoes — do not microwave or heat, since the oil and fats will separate and the chemical reaction can change the taste/texture of potatoes
  • Do not store uncooked potatoes in the fridge — cold temperatures turn starch into sugar

Hope this helps and have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Sources: 1, 2, 3 and 4

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