Ask Dr. Potato

With 746 posts, chances are there's already an answer to your question. Please try searching below before submitting a question to Dr. Potato. Use multiple words to help narrow down the results. For example, search for "potatoes" and "group" if looking for an answer on cooking potatoes for large groups.

Back To Dr. Potato Home

Why I Do Not Recommend Baking Potatoes In Aluminum Foil

Q:

Our restaurant owner has asked us to look at ways to save money in the kitchen and one that I remember reading on one of your blogs posts, for Dr. Potato, was to not wrap Idaho® potatoes in aluminum foil. I can’t remember all the reasons. I know it helps keep the potatoes warm longer, but our bakers are turning out almost wet when we pull them out of the oven and cut them open to add butter before sending out to the guests.

A:

Wrapping potatoes to bake in aluminum foil should be outlawed! First of all, the original reason restaurants did this was to dress up the lowly potato and to hide any defects or bruises. So gold and aluminum foil sheets were painstakingly used to punish dishwashers and cooks who had some extra time on their hands… just my theory.

First reason… the potato is around 80% water. Trapping that spud in aluminum foil where the moisture cannot escape results in a wet potato. Over baking the potato in foil cannot be seen (or easy to smell that it is overcooked) so you can end up with dark brown skin on the bottom, tough to eat and giving off a slightly burnt taste.Just look at the skin on this beautiful baked potato, blogger Priscilla Willis did, with a vegetarian topping.

Fully Loaded Backed Potato

Second reason: Just as you suspected, foil wrapping adds to the cost of the potato with labor time. A study we did years ago showed wrapping a box of 90 counts to 15-30 minutes. Even at minimum wage, currently at $7.25 that is a $1.81 to $3.62 increase in the cost of putting those potatoes into the oven.

Third reason: The cost of those pretty little aluminum foil wraps are expensive too. On the web site right now at www.amazon.com 50 Reynolds pop up foil sheets cost $7.46 or 15 cents each! At centralrestaurant.com a box of 500 individual Reynolds aluminum foil individual sheets are $29.49 or 6 cents a potato.

If your restaurant is paying $15.00 for a carton of 90 count Idaho® potatoes they cost 16.7 cents apiece. In the examples above you nearly double the cost of the potato for the 50 sheets, and for the 500 sheets add nearly 36% to the cost.Cost Per Serving Table

NEVER BAKE POTATOES IN FOIL. Foil wraps will not decrease baking time, but will result in a soggy potato interior with wet skin. Wrapping a baked potato in foil after it has been baked will allow you to hold up to 45 minutes, but the best method for holding a baked potato is in a bread warming drawer. Second best is to use a heat-proof cabinet.

Use a fork to pierce the skin in the form of a cross before serving. Do not cut with a knife as this flattens the surface and prevents the potato from being fluffy. Open the potato just before serving by pressing the ends toward the center and lifting and fluffing the meat of the potato with a fork.