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Why Did My Baked Potatoes Turn Brown?

Q:

Why did my baked potatoes turn brown on the inside when they were baked? We baked a large order of baked potatoes for fundraising events using convection ovens. We baked at 425 degrees F for about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Most of the time they turn out great but the last batch were 90 count potatoes and turn brown on the inside. We normally only use the 100 count sized potatoes.

A:

That’s a great question. For the size potatoes you are baking and the use of convection ovens which are more efficient and even cooking versus a conventional oven, you should have little trouble getting the potatoes to cook in an hour. A Russet Norkotah variety may take 10-15 minutes longer than the Russet Burbank variety, as it typically has less solids and more moisture.

Here is what I would check:

  1. Are the ovens properly calibrated for the temperature on the dial? If not, many power companies will adjust for free if you call them. Conventional ovens often have hot spots so potatoes on the edge may not cook as fast or completely as those towards the center. A solution is to turn the pan half way during the middle of the baking process.
  2. Are the potatoes placed on sheet pans with adequate room around each spud for even cooking?
  3. Are the potatoes one level and not stacked in a deeper pan?

Finally, when you said fund raising events my very first thought is that the potatoes are being baked in foil. If at all possible, don’t do that. It steams the potatoes; the outer skin will be wet and the interior soggy, and the bottom of the potato inside the skin layer will turn dark brown. Go to the Ask Dr. Potato blog and in the search section put in “foil” and you will see several suggestions on how to bake and hold potatoes without foil or how to bake without foil, then wrap afterwards.

By the way, foil wrapping a potato is not advised in most circumstances as it costs more per potato, takes longer to bake and results in an inferior product.

If the potato is dark brown all over the area under the skin that indicates it is over cooked. I see this a lot at buffet restaurants where the potatoes were left in the oven too long or on a steam table pan and under heat lamps.

baked potato in foil