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Jenise

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The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Jenise » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:10 pm

Yesterday, I peeled, diced and blanched about 15 pounds of potatoes for the frittatas I'm doing for the Yacht Club breakfast this weekend. I diced and blanched them in small batches so that I didn't have any potatoes sitting around turning pink. And unable to determine exactly how much I needed by any better method, I drained the hot potatoes and spread them in the hotel pans they'll eventually cook in to cool. When I had a good inch layer in each pan, I stopped peeling.

In addition to the potatoes, I had a whole bunch of other tasks to do, like three quarts of artichoke hearts to slice, cheese to grate, five pounds of sausage to crumble, etc. I made kits, essentially, and later wrote recipes specific to the kits, that my kitchen staff can use to assemble the stratas and frittatas quickly on site tomorrow morning. Will only take about 30 minutes max to get all four pans ready for the oven.

At some point while doing all that, I noticed that some of the potatoes in the pans were turning brown. I picked out the brown ones and went on with my work. Then I noticed that more had followed suit. I picked those out too, and added water to each pan so that I could rinse any latent starch away, in case that was contributing to the problem. After I drained them and picked out yet more potatoes, I put what was left into two big Zip Locs. I then peeled, diced and boiled three more potatoes worth to make up for what I'd picked out, cooled and put them in the bags too. Everything looked pretty white. After awhile, however, each bag had more brown potatoes in them. So I emptied the bags back into the hotel pans and picked through all the potatoes again, removing over three cups worth, wondering if the potatoes were having a chemical reaction to the pans, or even each other. Then I peeled, diced and boiled three more potatoes, using in the end all but three potatoes out of the 20 lb bag I bought. I was ready to cry.

And I could tell what was happening. Remember in the old days when you got a bag of potato chips and some would have these dark rings in them? As I understand it the dark rings were extra sugars in the older potatoes. Well most of the pieces I was picking out were not square from the inner part of the potato where perfect dice occurred, but the slope-sided pieces from the outer wall of the potato. The discolored potatoes were actually not uniformly discolored but had a darker vein of discoloration with lighter discolor to one side of it than the other. The sugar rings were oxidizing.

I'm afraid to look at what transpired over night. Might end up using frozen potatoes after all. Or, ha!, potato chips. :)

Anyway, I've never had anything quite like this ever happen. Nor do I know any way to fully stop oxidation in a potato as rich as some of these were. Even fully cooked, the part that will turn pink when exposed to air will end up gray. Anyone know of any way to retard it?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:34 pm

I don't recall seeing anything like this but when I hold potatoes I give a squeeze of lemon and rub them around.
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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Jenise » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:05 pm

That would help on the surface, but the issues with discoloration weren't just surface. Like I said, these veins ran through them and would have, I'm guessing, been about half an inch from the surface most of the time.

I checked the potatoes from last night: lots of new discoloration. What a freaking nightmare!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:58 pm

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Howie Hart

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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Howie Hart » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:05 pm

Hmmm... My only experience with cooking potatoes diced small is making potato salad and I've never had them turn pink or brown. I like to steam them in the basket of one of those pasta cookers to maintain the flavor and starches. I feel boiling and draining washes good stuff out of the potatoes. Then, I dump the water used for steaming and rinse with cold water using the pasta cooker and the basket, changing the water a few times until the potatoes are very cold and leave them in the water until I'm ready to make the salad.
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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Karen/NoCA » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:12 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Hmmm... My only experience with cooking potatoes diced small is making potato salad and I've never had them turn pink or brown. I like to steam them in the basket of one of those pasta cookers to maintain the flavor and starches. I feel boiling and draining washes good stuff out of the potatoes. Then, I dump the water used for steaming and rinse with cold water using the pasta cooker and the basket, changing the water a few times until the potatoes are very cold and leave them in the water until I'm ready to make the salad.

Howie, do you use this same method when you want to maked mashed potatoes?
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Jenise

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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Jenise » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:22 am

Howie Hart wrote:I feel boiling and draining washes good stuff out of the potatoes.


It does, no doubt. But no way that's practical with almost 20 lbs of this stuff.

Btw, when I got home tonight and checked in on them? About one in every 20 pieces had turned black. Not just brown, black. But no emergency now--on the way home, I bought some frozen potatoes for backup.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: The Great February 7th Potato Blight

by Howie Hart » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:25 am

Karen/NoCA wrote:Howie, do you use this same method when you want to make mashed potatoes?

For mashed, I cut them into big chunks and steam them, but do not do the cold water rinse. I mash them with a hand masher, add milk, butter S & P and serve. I usually use white potatoes, but if I use redskin, I leave the skins on and leave them a little chunky. I don't think I've ever mashed a Russet or a Yukon Gold.
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