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How Long Can I Keep Pre-Cooked Blanched French Fry Strips?

Q:

I’ve got all the equipment and started exploring doing fresh French fries. I have a couple of questions that were not covered in the Fresh French Fry kitchen wall poster that you sent earlier.

My questions are:

  1. What is the maximum time that the cut fries can be held in soaking water?
  2. Holding the cut fries in a plastic bucket of water, this process is entirely at room temperature, correct?
  3. Once the fries are blanched, held in water and then finally go into the refrigerator, generally how long can they be held before frying and not get soggy?
A:

These are too easy. I thought you were going to stump the Doc.

When cutting the fry strips, place them in plastic buckets in chilled water. In really warm kitchens, I have seen chefs add ice to the water, it seems to work quite well.

Once the bucket is full of potatoes, but still covered with water, place in the walk-in. If someone has to work the lunch or dinner rush and is not finished cutting up all the potatoes, place the ones that are done in the chilled water and refrigerate. I usually recommend keeping them for no more than 24 hours in the walk-in and be sure to cover the buckets so other food items cannot fall into the water too. Health departments tend to request the 24 hour rule too, but the product won’t be compromised if it goes over that a few hours.

When you bring the fry strips out, drain the water off, air dry the strips (or use a form of a commercial size salad spinner) and then blanch in small batches. I have found that placing the blanched fries into a plastic rectangle tub with a metal grid on the bottom allows more oil to drain off the hot fries before cooling and placing back in the walk-in for the final fry later.

Be sure to let the cut, blanched fries reach close to room temp before placing in the walk-in, and initially put in uncovered or with a towel over the tubs, then add the lids later. Covering a container immediately while the blanched fries still have some warmth, will cause water condensation on the lid which can drop back on the cooked fries making them soggy before the final fry.