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No More Short French Fries Please

Q:

  What’s happening to my favorite fast food French fries?

A:

No more short fries please.  Short fries, especially fresh made Idaho® French fries, can be frustrating to diagnose. However, thanks for passing on this picture:

short fries

A couple of things I noticed…

  • The ends of some of the short fries (see the left side, first vertical row of four) are jagged and appear to be broken into short pieces. Here are a few things that can cause this: The French fry cutter blade is worn and is not making a clean cut when the raw potatoes are loaded one by one into the machine. Have the operator or chef feel the blade with their hands to discover either a smooth surface or a rough one. A worn cutter blade will give each fry piece a torn or jagged end (just like an old lawnmower blade) and every one of those small cuts can make the fries when tossed or agitated in the hot oil break up into smaller pieces.
  • The whole potatoes, when in a bag or carton could have been dropped, usually a distance of three feet will fracture the potatoes. So be sure, all along the way, to handle carefully as again the potatoes will break apart when cut and fried.
  • You got the bottom of the barrel. When a large quantity of the fries are cut at once and placed into a large plastic bucket with water before frying, the ones on the bottom can get crushed and break up into smaller pieces. NOTE: One way to check on what happened… Are the individual fry strands just short? If so they will have a rounded shape on the ends or tapered to a point and both ends will be equally cooked. A broken end will be lighter in color typically.
  • Did the specs on the incoming order of potatoes change? For example, if a restaurant is using a (10 ounce/plus) No. 2 Idaho® potato for the fries typically, but they switch to a smaller size (say 90 count) No. 1 potato since it was a chance to buy a nicer looking spud for the same price and a better yield. Did the distributor send the wrong size No. 2 potatoes? This year (2013-14 crop) Idaho has a nice selection of larger sizes at very reasonable prices so I discount this theory for now.
  • Finally, ask the operator or chef if something has changed. They may not know if an employee is careless in preparing, handling or unloading the potatoes. I am sure they would appreciate the concern, just don’t do it in a negative way “What have you done to my fries!”