Q&A: Tips on Holding Mashed Potatoes

Q:

How long can I hold mashed potatoes on my cafeteria line?

A:

Mashed potatoes are great for foodservice operations because they hold so well, but many people have questions on how long they should actually hold them.  Fresh mashed Idaho® potatoes should be held for no more than 60 minutes on a steam table (moist heat #7) or warming cabinet (175 °F – 200°F).  Always preheat the steam table or warming cabinet.  Keep potatoes covered with a layer of plastic wrap or a lid.  If dry heat is used, set a pan in water bath.

Processed dry or dehydrated mashed potatoes can be held in a steam table (moist heat #5). For ideal taste and texture, granules should be held no more than 30 minutes; flakes not more than an hour and fifteen minutes.  Frozen product can be held longer, up to 4 hours, on a steam table.  Ask the manufacturer for specific product holding times

Sometimes fresh mashed potatoes will have a soupy texture if they are overcooked or over-mixed.  I recommend baking or boiling 5 lbs of peeled (or 6 lbs of unpeeled) Idaho® potatoes until fork tender, then whipping with 3/4 cups hot milk for 1-2 minutes on a low setting.  Then add 1/4 pound butter or margarine and whip on high for 3-4 minutes.  This will yield 25 half cup servings.