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Help! My Fries!

Q:

I run a small burger and fry business in Nashville TN. We serve about 3200lbs a month of russet potatoes as fries. My produce suppliers have run out of Burbank russets for the year and are only able to supply me with a new-crop of Norkotah russets that are making awful, awful fries that I'm embarrassed to serve! We use a hot-water blanch to cook our 1/2" fries done in a dilute vinegar solution, followed by a 300 degree blanch fry that takes 8-10 minutes to remove most of the moisture. They're then frozen and stored, cooked 2 minutes at 350 degrees for sales. They come out mealy and sweet, not to mention tough, and they last about two minutes before they're basically awful, limp horrors. I've tried lowering the pre-fry temperatures and cooking them longer but I never want to see a Norkotah again... Would switching to a Kennebec or Ranger help until Burbanks come back? Is there some magic trick to cooking these abominations? Complaints are coming in from all directions and I'm in panic mode. Please help!

A:

Sorry to hear about your experience with the Norkotahs for French fries. Were they from Idaho? Our soil and the newer varieties of Russet Norkotahs can produce excellent fresh fries, I just had some at Five Guys last week and Mooyah Burgers and fries use Norkotahs nearly year round.

It sounds like your procedure should work, but the potatoes received may have had lower solids. Most Idaho® frozen fry processors rely on the Russet Burbank as their go to potato, along with Rangers, Umatilla and Alturas. So, if you can get the Ranger variety, that would work. Here are some of the descriptions of the various russet varieties: Our Most Popular Varieties

It can also be a storage issue. Below 40 degrees F the starch will start to convert to sugar. Here are some links: