Those five words can make a huge difference in someone’s food budget. There are caveats, of course. Sometimes the word “free” is misleading. For example, let’s say there’s such an offer on a bag of 5 pounds of potatoes. This means you’re getting 10 pounds of potatoes for the price of 1 bag. That’s great–on the surface. If a store charges $5 for a 5-pound bag, you have to make sure another store doesn’t sell a comparable item for less than that. If you can get a bag for less at another store, the “free” isn’t so free after all.
Then there’s the question of how quickly you’ll use the items. If they’re perishable, will you be able to use them or preserve them before they go bad? If you’re cooking for a large family, that’s not likely to be much of a problem. It it’s a staple, say butter, for example (though I seldom see such offers on butter), there’s usually room in the freezer for a 1 pound package. But what about potatoes, onions, and similar products? And what if you’re cooking for one person? Do you have to bypass such money-saving opportunities? Of course not.
I seem to be overly attracted to the “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” signs when it comes to potatoes. I love potatoes. That is no exaggeration. Still, I managed to accumulate about 20 pounds of potatoes thanks to buy 1. It’s cold in here, so they do last longer. But I needed to do something with them.
https://i2.wp.com/www.knife-fork-spoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IMG_0341.jpg?resize=1024%2C768 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/www.knife-fork-spoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IMG_0341.jpg?w=2000 2000w, https://i2.wp.com/www.knife-fork-spoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IMG_0341.jpg?w=3000 3000w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
Freezer space is at a premium. I thought about canning them. Because they are a low acid food, they have to be pressure canned, and I didn’t have time for that. So I opted for dehydrating them. I’ve dehydrated potatoes before but only for chips, not long-term storage. So that necessitated a Google search. As with most things, there are myriad ways to dehydrate potatoes. After reading pros and cons of various methods, I decided to use the techniques that seem to be used most often.
A word about dehydrators. I’ve mentioned several times that I have the Nesco/American Harvestor Jerky and Snackmaker. It’s relatively inexpensive (I think mine was about $70 when I got it, and it’s gone down in price.) and has worked well for many years. Many people use an Excalibur and swear by it. It’s considerably more expensive, and several who have one feel it is well worth the price. Before buying, be honest with yourself about how often you’ll use it. If results are similar, you may not want to spend a great deal of money on something you’ll seldom use. As for features, I spoke with Jerri of Homesteader’s Supply. She feels a temperature control is most important. I couldn’t agree more. I know some people are adamant that a dehydrator has a timer. However, because dehydrating involves so many variables, a timer’s use might not be worth the extra cost. But you do need temperature control. Not everything is dehydrated at the same temperature.
Peel the potatoes, making sure to cut away any dark spots or eyes. Most sources say potatoes need to be parboiled prior to dehydrating. Some, however, say to cook them fully; some bake them until a knife can be inserted. If you don’t cook them, they tend to get dark–even black–in the center when dehydrated. I decided to parboil, since it seemed to be the most prevalent advice. In some instructions, the potatoes are cut into the desired form prior to cooking. I did the first couple of times. The other times I cooked first and then put them through the chopper.
If you’re good with the knife skills, you can cut them by hand. I’m not that good, so I use my Genius chopper/slicer. I did slices first. I sliced them very thin. They only took about 6 hours to dehydrate. My original thought was to grind them and use them as instant mashed potatoes. I may leave them sliced and make some au gratin potatoes. They may be a bit too thin for that, though.
My next potatoes were cubed. Because they were considerably thicker, it took longer to dehydrate them. In total, I think it took closer to 12 hours. I generally don’t need to rotate trays during the dehydrating process, but I found it necessary with these. potatoes.
https://i0.wp.com/www.knife-fork-spoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Potato-Soup-with-dry-cubes.jpg?resize=1024%2C768 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/www.knife-fork-spoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Potato-Soup-with-dry-cubes.jpg?w=2000 2000w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
I planned these potatoes for soups, stews, and perhaps potato salad. I’d been having a craving for potato soup, so I used some of them to make a nice bowl on a cold day. I rehydrated the cubes by soaking in hot water just to cover for about an hour. The residual water can be added into the pot with the potatoes.
When it comes to storage, I used my FoodSaver to vacuum seal them in jars. And that’s where I hit a snag. A lot of us have problems using the jar sealer. I couldn’t get the wide mouth one to work at all. Even after reading all the solutions people found for the problem. I took their suggestions for using the regular mouth jars, and they worked. At least I thought so. I tested them, and the lights were tight. A couple days later, I checked them again. All open; the seal had come undone. So I put them in FoodSaver bags and vacuum sealed them. So if you’re using the jar sealer, be sure to check your lids.
I’ve worked through about half of the potatoes I had stocked up. I’m so glad to be able to preserve some before they go bad.