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Can I use Russet Norkotah Potatoes for Making Fresh-cut Fries at my Hamburger Stand?

Q:

I have a hamburger stand I just opened this summer and I was using fresh Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes for my fries. The supplier I use just sent me a Russet Norkotah variety. The cartons still say Idaho, can I use them for my fries? They seem to be frying up a little darker.

A:

Thanks for reaching out to us with your question. The good news is that this variety will fry up just as well if you pay attention to the basics and make a few modifications. First, a little history...

 

The Norkotah was an early harvest variety, meant to help ease any issues of supply during the gap from old crop to new crop with the Russet Burbank. Back then, the Russet Burbank was more than 90% of our total production. Now hovers around 50%, with the Russet Norkotah in second most years. Several states grow the Russet Norkotah, so I am glad you looked for the "Grown in Idaho" certification mark on the box. The soil, weather, and skills of Idaho farmers have made this a beautiful looking potato, with very even skin coloring and a nice oval shape. Early on, this variety was known to have low to medium solids and was better suited to baking or mashing. The variety has had continuing development, averaging much higher solids (specific gravity) than years ago. The variety can typically go from just a fall crop and now can store past winter, spring and into early summer. Operators now find this a viable russet for fresh-cut fries. 

 

Ever use a convection oven to bake versus a conventional oven? A tip I learned a long time ago from the experts was to reduce the temperature by 25°F when cooking in the quicker conventional oven. We've made some changes in recommendations for blanching techniques too. Those recommendations are to reduce the temperature by 25°F in the fryer and blanch a little longer to keep the fry strips from turning dark. Let the potatoes rest at least thirty minutes, and ideally up to two hours before finish frying. In recent years, I've found the Russet Norkotah from Idaho can perform very well in frying, as long they are not stored too cold, which causes the starches to convert to sugars.

 

Give it a try and let me know the results. More tips on fries are on our website at the following link: https://idahopotato.com/all-things-french-fried-potatoes.