Ask Dr. Potato

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Difference Between Idaho® Potatoes and Russets?

Russet potatoes are grown in many states, however, only potatoes grown in Idaho can be called Idaho® potatoes.  Idaho’s ideal growing conditions – the rich, volcanic soil, climate and irrigation – are what differentiate Idaho® potatoes from potatoes grown in other states.  

“Idaho® potato” and the “Grown in Idaho®” seal are federally registered Certification Marks that belong to the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC). These Marks ensure that consumers are purchasing potatoes that have been grown in the state of Idaho.   

The IPC works hard to protect these trademarks and ultimately the integrity of the ‘”Idaho® potato” brand, which is recognized around the world as a premium potato. In fact, recently a trial was held in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York where a jury  concluded, and a Judge affirmed, that “Idaho” was not generic for any russet potato.                   

While the russet is the most well-known potato grown in Idaho, more than 25 other potato varieties are grown in Idaho including:  Yukon Golds, Reds and Fingerlings. 

2. How do I know I'm buying Idaho potatoes?

To be sure you're getting genuine, top-quality Idaho Potatoes, look for the "Grown In Idaho" seal, which features a silhouette of the state of Idaho, and for the registered certification mark, "Idaho Potatoes."

Genuine Idaho potatoes have a rounded, somewhat elongated shape, few and shallow eyes, net-textured skin and a deep brown color. Look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes that have no cuts, bruises or discoloration.

Don't buy potatoes that are soft or have excessive cuts, cracks, bruises or discoloration and decay. If your potatoes have any green spots, pare them off before cooking because they could taste bitter.

3. I purchased Idaho potatoes and they looked good but it turns out they were rotten on the inside, why did this happen?

When Idaho potatoes are shipped from our state there is a quality control inspection performed on them.  This is just one of the reasons Idaho has such a good reputation for growing the highest quality potatoes in the world.  When produce is received by the intended retailer it is inspected by the US Department of Agriculture, if there is any question about the quality.  The Idaho shipper has no control after their potatoes have been received by the retailer.  

It is possible that your purchase was on the shelf longer than the retailer intended.  In most circumstances when a consumer purchases a produce item from a retail store which they are dissatisfied with, you only need to return the unused portion and the sales receipt to the retailer and they will replace or refund your money.

4. Why are my potatoes turning green?

The greenish color sometimes seen on potato skins occurs when the potatoes have been exposed to natural, artificial, or fluorescent lights.  This can also occur if when a potato is growing a crack in the soil exposes the potato to sunlight.  This is mostly discovered before being sold.

Greening happens a lot more than it used to because supermarkets are often open for longer hours so their displays receive more direct light.  However, it can also happen at home if you store your potatoes out in the open where they are exposed to light.

The green color on the potato is chlorophyll developing in the skin and along with this change, increased quantities solanin is also formed.  Solanin is part of the flavoring complex that gives the potato its taste.  This is concentrated close to the potatoes surface and is easily removed when peeled.  Only if the potato has prolonged exposure to light will the bitter taste and color penetrate deeper into the potato.  

We recommend that you don’t eat the green part of the potato because of its bitter taste.  Just peel away the green sections before preparing the potatoes and serving to your guests.

5. Can I cook Idaho potatoes in the microwave?

With the invention of the microwave, cooking potatoes has become much faster and more convenient. Many claim that the microwave actually bakes a more nutritious potato than a conventional oven, because the potato is exposed to nutrient-draining heat for a shorter period of time. 

Potatoes should be scrubbed, dried and pricked with a fork, then wrapped in a paper towel and placed one inch apart on a microwave rack. Cook according to your oven's guidelines, and turn potatoes once during cooking. Don't exceed the cooking time, as potatoes will continue to cook after they're removed from the oven.

Potato tip - If you’re in a hurry to prepare potatoes but feel that microwaving makes the potato too moist here’s one easy tip: As soon as you come home from work turn on the oven to 400⁰ F and place the potatoes directly on the rack for about 15 minutes, (just enough time to change out of your work clothes). Then pull out the potatoes and put in the microwave and you’ll find that the skin is dry and crispy and the potatoes cook faster.  That way you get the taste of oven baking with the speed of microwaving.

Nutritional Information

1. What makes Idaho Potatoes so good?

Idaho grown potatoes have a high solids content, so there's more potato and less water. The high quantity of starch grains cook to a light, fluffy texture and full, firm appearance when properly prepared.

2. What is the healthiest way of cooking potatoes?

Probably baked with a squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper. Topping the baked potato with salsa is also a good solution.

3. How do I get the most nutrition out of Idaho Potatoes?

To preserve the Idaho Potato's abundant nutrients, cook with the skins on whenever possible. And steam, rather than boil potatoes.

Save the cooking water after steaming potatoes, as some of the potatoes' nutrients will have leaked into it. Use it to make gravies or bread, or to moisten mashed potatoes.

4. Do Idaho potatoes contain gluten?

No, Idaho potatoes are gluten free and often used as a substitute for people with these types of allergies.

Buying Potatoes

1. What size potatoes should I buy?

Small Idaho Potatoes are best for use in salads, while medium-sized Idaho Potatoes are quite versatile and can be used baked, mashed or fried. Large ones are ideal for French fries or the "meal-in-itself" baked potato.

2. Are there two grades of Idaho potatoes, or two varieties?

There are two grades of potatoes typically sold in foodservice. A No. 1 potato from Idaho comes packed in cartons and has less defects, as well as a nice oval shape with few eyes. The No. 2 potato is commonly used in situations where the overall appearance is not as important such as freshly made French fries, mashed potatoes or hash browns. The No. 2 is packed in burlap bags, plastic or paper bags or can also be sourced in a one-piece box.

There are several varieties of Idaho potatoes, to view the different varieties click here. The largest and best known variety from Idaho is the Russet Burbank, named after scientist Luther Burbank. It has high solids and bakes up dry and fluffy and fries crisp and golden brown. Another popular variety is the Russet Norkotah, which also works well as an all purpose potato but has a slightly moister taste. 

Potato Prep/Cooking

1. Why are mashed potatoes lumpy and sticky at times and not at others?

The individual potato cells are susceptible to breaking down based on the amount of starch in the potato. Higher solids (starch) potatoes have larger cell size and tend to not break down as easily when over mixed versus a low solids potato (such as a red or yellow skinned variety) which has smaller potato cells. Among russet varieties the Russet Burbank from Idaho has usually had the highest solids and lowest moisture so turns out dry and fluffy. In Idaho we are required to list the potato variety on the bag or box.

2. How do I achieve the best results when mashing Idaho Potatoes?

Mashed potatoes have been an American favorite for decades. For best results when preparing mashed potatoes, place a quarter of a lemon in the cooking water to prevent potatoes from breaking up, and cook them in their skins to prevent water logging. After cooking, pull the skin from the end of the potato to remove it easily. While mashing, add warm milk to the potatoes gradually to gauge consistency; then add any other favorite condiments.

3. What's the best way to boil Idaho Potatoes?

When boiling potatoes, it is best to leave the skin on while cooking--the potato will retain more nutrients and flavor. Skins can be removed as soon as the potato is cool enough to hold. Potatoes should be scrubbed before boiling, rather than soaked. Soaking potatoes in water can sap nutrients and flavor. To enrich the flavor of potatoes boil them in a favorite stock, or for a mild, sweet taste, boil in milk. Potatoes boiled in milk should be peeled thinly when cooled. To prevent potatoes from discoloration after cooking, add a touch of lemon juice to the water.

Potatoes should be placed in the cooking water before it is heated. An alternate method is to place fresh potatoes in salted, already--boiling water. Steaming is another popular cooking method that has a similar effect to boiling, but the potato tends to retain more nutrients when steamed because it is not immersed in water, though boiled potatoes do retain more vitamin C. Seasonings of various kinds can be added to the water while steaming potatoes to give them a unique flavor.

4. Can I make a recipe for mashed potatoes that contains cream cheese a week in advance and then reheat to serve?

From a food safety standpoint we do not recommend making any recipe with potatoes and dairy a week in advance. Potatoes are a neutral PH and combined with dairy, especially if done warm and not cooled immediately, could lead to some problems. The mashed potatoes will also turn dark from oxidation for that long, even if refrigerated. Instead, make the mashed potatoes the day before, cool, refrigerate covered, then add in the cream cheese (same weights as butter or margarine) the day of your meal. 

5. Is there anything harmful in eating potatoes raw?

There is no harm in eating the potatoes raw, however, you may find them a little harder to digest than when cooked. Willard Scott, the famous NBC weatherman, does this all the time even making a point once to chomp down on an Idaho Potato on a harvest segment of the TODAY show a couple of years ago.

6. What is the best method to pre-cook mash potatoes and reheat later?

Boil water, add peeled potatoes cut into large chunks, cook and drain. Mash or use a ricer. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to help keep the potatoes from oxidizing and let them cool then cover tightly and refrigerate. Reheat (microwave, crock pot, oven, stovetop) till slightly warm and then add in the liquids (milk, chicken broth, even a little water to rehydrate can work).

7. What's the best way to open a baked potato?

Never use a knife for opening a baked potato; it flattens the surface and alters the normal fluffy texture of a baked Idaho spud. Instead, pierce the potato with a fork, once lengthwise and crosswise. Press the potato at both ends and it will "blossom".

8. When is a baked potato done?

Potatoes are ready when their internal temperature reaches 208 to 211 degrees Fahrenheit. A fork easily pierces a baker when it's done. If the potato is hard, bake a little longer. However, watch out for over-baking, or drying of the underskin will occur.

9. What is the healthiest way of cooking potatoes?

Probably baked with a squeeze of lemon, some salt and pepper. Topping the baked potato with salsa is also a good solution.

10. When using skewers, how can I prevent the inside of my potato from turning dark?

If you use metal skewers for baking potatoes, heat the skewers first. This seals the potato and prevents the center of the potato from turning dark.

11. How do I achieve the best results when frying Idaho Potatoes?

When frying, the high solids content of Idaho Potatoes decreases oil absorption, guaranteeing crispier potatoes. In addition, Idaho Potatoes shrink less when fried and retain their shape better than moister potatoes.

Before frying potatoes, rinse them in cold water to remove starch, which can cause the potatoes to stick together during the frying process. For crispier potatoes, soak the potatoes in salt water for several minutes before cooking. Be sure to always use clean oil, heated to the proper temperature--food dropped in improperly heated oil will absorb the fat and take longer to cook. Oil should be heated slowly. If a good thermometer isn't available, drop a potato strip into the oil and observe. If it sinks and the surrounding oil doesn't react, the oil isn't hot enough. If the oil bubbles around the strip and the potato remains on top, the temperature is ideal.

Keep checking the cooking oil for acrid odors while cooking; strong odors indicate that the oil is beginning to burn. Be sure to never leave frying potatoes unattended.

12. Can a pressure cooker be used to cook Idaho Potatoes?

What happens when you add an Idaho potato to a pressure cooker? You get the fastest, easiest, healthiest potato dishes in no time. Imagine mashed potatoes in seven minutes or crunchy topped potatoes in four minutes.

A pressure cooker is the ideal cookware for preparing flavorful and healthful foods in record time with little or no fat. By sealing in foods inside the pressure cooker, steam pressure builds inside the pot and the temperature rises. The high cooking level cooks foods in a short period of time, often cooking meals in less than 15 minutes.

Because foods are cooked under pressure, up to 50% more vitamins and minerals are retained. Because steam pressure breaks down the fibers in food in a very short time, foods are succulent, with an intense mingling of flavors.

Check out our Recipes section for pressure cooking recipes or follow this link to find out more about Fagor pressure cookers.

13. Why is my new potato peeler often difficult to use?

A new potato peeler could be difficult to use because the peeler "softens up" with use. The high starch in the Idaho Potato reacts with the peeling blade, making the blade sharper with each potato peeled. The peeler handle also becomes more flexible with use. Idaho Potatoes have a long, smooth shape, so the peeling action is even. As the peeler handle loosens, it can more cleanly slice the surface of the potato.

14. Why do my potatoes sometimes turn black after I cook them?

This is one of the hardest things to detect when potatoes are brought in from the field and sorted to go into bags for consumers.  Black spots just below the skin of the potato can occur if the potato is stored too cold (below 40 degrees) or when a potato is dropped more than 6 inches or something heavy is placed on top of them.  The damage does not appear immediately but can become noticeable after one or two days in storage.  Since the skin is not broken it is very hard to detect black spots until the potato is cooked.  

Despite their hardy appearance, potatoes can bruise as easily as a banana or apple.  While it might not be convenient, you can still eat the potato as long as you trim away the black spots before cooking.

Storing Potatoes

1. Where is the best place to store potatoes?

Store Idaho Potatoes in a cool, dark and well ventilated place. They will keep about a week at room temperature and for several weeks at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, refrigerator temperatures are too low, which converts the potato's starch into sugar, resulting in a sweet taste. The extra sugar also causes potatoes to darken prematurely while frying. (This process can sometimes be reversed by storing the potatoes at room temperature for a week to 10 days.) If potatoes have green patches, cut them off, as they have been exposed too long to direct lighting and will have a faintly bitter taste. The rest of the potato will taste fine.

Potatoes are still alive when they are picked, so they should be kept in a cool area, away from the light. A cellar is ideal, but any place where they won't be exposed to excessive heat or light will help prevent spoiling.

2. Should I wash my potatoes before storing?

Before storing spuds, look them over and use any bruised ones first. Since dampness can cause decay, it is best not to wash spuds before storing.

3. Can home made mashed potatoes be frozen?

Once mashed they can be frozen but will typically oxidize or turn gray in a matter of days. To help prevent this, add a small amount (tablespoon) of white vinegar or concentrated lemon juice to the mixture once cooked.

4. If I purchased a 50 lb box of potatoes how long would they stay good if stored in proper conditions?

If stored at 45-48 degrees F with 95% humidity the potatoes will last quite some time, potentially months. Most people can not make arrangements to store them under those conditions. Store in the dark, in a cool location and you should be able to have them stay fresh for a couple of weeks. The potato is about 80% water, so high humidity really helps retain the moisture. Above 55 degrees the potato will start to shrink and is more susceptible to sprouting.

General Potato Questions

1. What is the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 Potatoes?

No. 1 potatoes are typically better shaped with less defects than No. 2's.  No. 2 potatoes bake and taste the same but may have pointed ends, more bruising, etc.  Restaurant operators use No. 2 potatoes when the final appearance does not have to be as attractive a potato shape, for example for mashed, hash browns or French fries.

2. When does the Idaho® potato “planting” and “harvesting” season officially begin and end? 

Planting usually starts in early April and goes into middle May, the bulk of the planting happens in the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May.  The early warmer areas of the valley start earlier, but they don’t plant nearly as heavily as the cooler areas of the state. Harvest begins in early September and can run through most of October. Most of the potatoes are harvested in the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October. Some varieties will be harvested earlier than that, but they don’t account for much production.

Fresh for Foodservice

1. Fries

Putting Idaho® French fries on your menu is one of the easiest ways to increase sales and improve profits. They're quick to prepare and have a high value perception and low food cost. Your customers love French fries, and with Idaho® Potatoes, you're giving them the best, most-consistent, fresh-cut fries available.

Try serving with these sides and toppings:

  • Salsa
  • Blue cheese
  • Ranch-style dip
  • Pesto mayonnaise
  • Honey mustard

For the best hand-cut Idaho® French fry yield, we recommend using U.S. grade No. 1 fresh Idaho® Potatoes, 7-15 oz. packed 90 to 70 count in 50 lb. cartons or 12 oz. and larger No. 2 potatoes packed in paper bags. Fresh, unpeeled potatoes for frying should be stored in a dark, cool area, preferably at 55°F. Do not refrigerate, as temperatures below 42°F cause potato starch to turn to sugar. Check the cutting blades, replace if jagged.

Keep the skin on to enhance homemade appearance and flavor. Fries made from peeled potatoes should be chilled after cutting in cold water for 30 minutes to 2 hours before frying to ensure maximum crispiness., Add citrus acid or vinegar to the water solution to prevent darkening. Spin-dry before frying to avoid spattering and reduce fat absorption.

Fresh fries are best blanched. Get a crispier finished fry by blanching potatoes in hot oil to precook before peak periods and then finish in a final fry before serving. Fries are completely cooked during the blanching stage at a lower temperature to allow the potato to cook slowly without becoming golden brown. After blanching, allow fries to cool to room temperature or, preferably, refrigerate in uncovered containers before the final fry to a golden brown.

Idaho® Fry Tips

  • Hold at 300°F in a warming cabinet or at 100°-120°F under a heat lamp never for more than 10 minutes.
  • Underfrying, salting too soon, and leaving a basket over the fryer too long will result in poor texture and limp fries.
  • To prevent excessive oil usage, drain baskets by shaking lightly or increase frying temperature.
  • A study by Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts showed the best potatoes for fresh French fries are the Idaho® Russet Burbank variety.
  • When frying the Norkotah variety, allow for more cook time by reducing the temperatures for blanching or finish frying.
2. Mashed

Fresh Idaho® Mashed Potatoes are one of the most popular items in foodservice because their versatility allows chefs to use them as an economical side dish or as a base ingredient for signature dishes, with exciting variations that include buttermilk-bacon and garlic-olive oil.

Mashed potatoes can be simple or fancy, inexpensive or upscale. Use these suggestions to create your own specialty dishes:

  • Brown gravy
  • Horseradish
  • Roasted garlic
  • Chopped nicoise olives, olive oil, milk, salt, and pepper
  • Sautéed onion, chopped basil, minced garlic, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Healthy Mashed Potato Variations!

  • Add herbs to accent natural flavor.
  • Leave the skins on for increased vitamins and minerals.
  • Add to a leek and onion soup base.
  • Add buttermilk and paprika for lively flavor.
  • Cook with chicken stock and skim milk, adding ground nutmeg or ground coriander to taste.

For best results, use any size U.S. grade No. 1 fresh Idaho® potatoes packed in cartons or the less-expensive grade No. 2 packed in bags or burlap sacks.

Keep fresh potatoes in a dark, cool area, preferably at 45°F. Do not refrigerate. Cook with their skins, then rinse and peel.

Cook potatoes until fork tender.* Heat milk until scalding. Drain potatoes; peel if necessary. Place in mixer. Pour heated milk into mixer with potatoes. Whip on low setting until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add butter or margarine and salt. Whip on high setting for 3-4 minutes.

Sauté minced shallots, minced garlic, chopped mushrooms, and chopped black olives in butter. Form mashed potatoes into 3-inch pancakes. Top half of the pancakes with 1 tablespoon vegetable mixture. Top with remaining pancakes. Sauté in butter.

Beat 3 egg yolks and add to 1 pint mashed potatoes. Add butter and cream until mixture is of piping consistency. Using a star tube, pipe potatoes onto baking sheets. Sprinkle grated Swiss cheese on top. Bake at 300°F until brown.

Make a tricolored, red/green/white mashed potato presentation: Add tomato paste, basil, and olive oil to one portion of mashed potatoes, add puréed spinach and Parmesan cheese to another portion, and leave the third unflavored.

Idaho® Mashed Tips

  • For fluffier potatoes, use a ricer or hand-mash.
  • For a dry texture, bake the potatoes instead of steaming.
  • Heat dry spices first before adding to the potato mixture for more flavor.
3. Baked / Twice-Baked

Idaho® Potatoes Bake Up Better

There's no side dish more classic than a hot, steaming baked potato. And no potato bakes better than an Idaho® Potato.

The Idaho® Potato is grown and stored to produce a tuber with a high solids content. During baking, the starch grains swell and separate. A potato with small grains, such as a round red or white, will stay firm and waxy. But an Idaho® Russet Burbank or Norkotah variety with its large grains and high starch content will cook to a characteristically light, fluffy texture. In addition, Idaho® potatoes undergo less shrinkage than other potatoes giving improved yield and plate coverage.

Menuing Idaho® Potatoes always shows you care about quality products. You can increase check averages by offering potato bars or baked Idaho® potatoes topped with extras., Write or call for our Genuine Idaho® Potato Bar Merchandising Guide.

Offer your customers these toppers:

  • Mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green peppers, sprouts
  • Butter/margarine; parmesan, cottage, ricotta, blue, and cheddar cheeses
  • Diced ham, ground beef, shredded chicken, surimi chunks
  • Chili, pizza sauce, BBQ sauce, salsa, guacamole, salad dressings


To make twice-baked Idaho® Potatoes, scoop out potato pulp after baking and mix with your favorite mashed potato ingredients or mix with ham and cheese, chicken fajita, or Thai beef for a main dish.

Storage
We recommend 100 to 70 count Idaho® Potatoes for baking. As with all Idaho® Potatoes, store in a dry, cool place, preferably at 45°F. Never refrigerate. Excessive light will turn the skins greenish and cause a bitter flavor while heat above 60°F will cause skin shrinkage.

Always wash potatoes thoroughly, being careful not to break the skin. Pierce skin with a fork to prevent bursting in the oven. To prevent excessive shrinkage during holding, coat the skin lightly with vegetable oil though this will prevent the skin from becoming crispy. Follow these guidelines for oven baking.

Idaho® Potatoes can also be baked in the microwave. First wash—but do not dry—the potato. Pierce each potato and wrap in a paper towel. When baking several potatoes at once, place them end to end in a circle, about one inch apart. The potatoes may need to be turned over midway through cooking, depending on your microwave. Allow the microwaved potatoes to remain wrapped in the paper for about two minutes before serving. An ideal Idaho® Baked Potato goes directly to the customer within 15 minutes of the time it is baked to ensure crispy skin and a dry, fluffy interior.

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 holding up to 45 minutes, and the best method for holding a baked potato is in a warming drawer. Second best is using a heat-proof cabinet where foil-wrapped potatoes can be held for 45 minutes, but with an interior temperature loss of about 20°F.

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.

4. Hash Browns

Whether you call them hash browns, home fries, fried potatoes, or skillet fries, the best are made with Idaho® Potatoes. The Idaho® Russet Burbank or Norkotah varieties are ideal for hash browns with their satisfying taste and texture. The high solids content provides a distinct texture and hearty flavor. They also absorb less fat in cooking. Idaho® Hash Browns also undergo less shrinkage for improved yield and plate coverage due to their low moisture content. Their low sugar content ensures that they will cook to a golden-brown color.

Serve Idaho® Hash Browns with every breakfast entrée to increase value or as an á la carte side to increase check averages. At lunch, use hash browns to add delicious flavors to quiche crusts, soups, and breads. At dinner, serve garlic potato cakes as an appetizer or as a side with meat entrées.

Add these creative touches to your menu:

  • For Southwest flavor, toss hash browns with corn, diced red pepper, minced jalapeño peppers, and garlic. Top with guacamole or salsa and serve with steak, ribs, or pork.
  • Add chopped red pepper, minced garlic, chopped fresh sage leaves, and ground black pepper.
  • Make a hash brown pizza by topping cooked hash browns with sliced roasted vegetables and a blend of cheeses, then bake.
  • Add grated, sliced zucchini and grated parsnips or turnips; season with garlic, sage, and rosemary and skillet-cook.
  • Top with goat cheese and bake. Serve with sautéed, diced apple.
  • Add chopped onions, diced red and green peppers, and red pepper flakes.
  • Add garlic and fresh herbs and top with a tomato-basil sauce.


Hash browns can also be a "healthy" alternative. Just follow these simple tips:

  • Use a nonstick fry pan and cooking spray instead of oil for reduced-fat hash browns.
  • Oven-bake to substantially reduce fat and calories. Spray pan with nonstick butter-flavored cooking spray before baking.
  • Avoid presalting.

For best results, use U.S. grade No. 1 fresh Idaho® Potatoes, 120 to 140 count, packed in 50 lb. cartons. Grade No. 2 Idaho® Potatoes, economically packed in bags, are also ideal for hash browns.

You will need approximately 6 pounds of potatoes for 25 ½-cup servings. We recommend using unpeeled potatoes for hash browns, which will increase yield by 12% or more and the skins will enhance the natural, homemade flavor and appearance. Immediately soak grated potatoes in water to prevent discoloration, or par-cook potatoes before grating or use leftover baked potatoes. Avoid grating too finely or cutting too small to preserve taste and texture.

Hash browns should be grilled at 375°F for 2-4 minutes. Twenty-five servings can be accommodated easily on a 31" x 32" grill. Add any optional ingredients or seasonings before grilling, then mix gently on the grill to coat all pieces. Keep the hash brown mixture loose; do not flatten.

5. Scalloped / Au Gratin

Scalloped and au gratin potatoes are the original signature potato dishes that will remind your customers of special occasions--especially if you make them with fresh Idaho® Potatoes. They are ideal for banquets because they hold well and portion easily and attractively.

Idaho® Potatoes' distinct, hearty potato taste stands up well to additional seasonings and flavors. The high solids and low moisture content means you'll get less shrinkage and more plate coverage as well as a light texture.

Update scalloped and au gratin Idaho® Potatoes with some simple enhancements to become new favorites:

  • Add sliced sweet potatoes, ground nutmeg, chopped chives, and grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Layer with turnip slices and Spanish onion slices. Add milk to cover. Dot with butter, then bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Add Dijon-style mustard to white sauce. Layer potatoes with shredded Swiss, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or cheddar and diced ham. Top with sauce and bake.
  • For healthier, flavorful scalloped potatoes, use skim milk, then add chopped fresh sage leaves and thinly sliced yellow onion.

Scalloped and au gratin potatoes are baked "en casserole" and made from peeled potatoes combined with flavored heavy cream, white or cheese sauce, or uncooked custard, then slowly baked until potatoes are extremely tender.

For best results, use 100 - 70 count fresh Idaho® Potatoes.

Slice Idaho® Potatoes 1/8-1/16" inch thick. If you preslice the potatoes, acidulate them in water with lemon juice; then dry, cover, and refrigerate to prevent browning. Layer potatoes in a buttered hotel pan and add heated cream, sauce, or custard. Shake pans to distribute ingredients evenly. Cover loosely with foil, then bake in a moderate oven (325-350°F) until tender, about one hour.

Remove foil and brown as desired. For au gratin potatoes, top with bread crumbs, butter, and grated cheese after baking, then brown. The potatoes should be tender but hold their shape when portioned, and the sauce should be smooth and uncurdled. (Bake potatoes in a water bath to prevent curdling.) For most attractive portioning, hold potatoes for 10 minutes before serving.

En casserole dishes hold longer than boiled or baked potatoes. Cover dish loosely with foil and hold in a warm place through a typical service period, about two hours. If necessary, reheat in the oven or brown lightly under a salamander or broiler.

For quick scalloped potatoes, mix flour, salt, pepper, and milk, then pour over potatoes and bake for one hour. The long baking time dissipates the flour taste. For a low-fat version, mix skim milk, potatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper and simmer until potatoes are nearly cooked. Dilute arrowroot with a little cold milk (1/2 oz. arrowroot to 2 quarts of milk) and add to simmering potato mixture. Stir until thickened and pour into a hotel pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350°F until brown.

Frozen / Dehydrated for Foodservice

1. Fries

Putting Idaho® French Fries on your menu is one of the easiest ways to increase sales and improve profits. They're quick to prepare and have a low food cost. In fact, 70% of foodservice menus include French fries-more than any other food!

Your customers love French fries-and with Idaho® Potatoes, you're giving them the best fries available. The high solids content of Idaho® Potatoes ensures a distinct, mealy texture and hearty flavor. They also absorb less oil, producing crispier fries. Premium length and low moisture content mean less shrinkage for improved yield and plate coverage. And the low sugar content of Idaho® Potatoes results in light golden fries, not dark fries as with high-sugar potatoes.

Specialty fries are available in distinctive, eye-catching shapes and in a variety of popular flavors and batters. Clear-coated and thicker-cut fries are also available for longer heat retention. Plain or batter-dipped, straight or curly, triangles, or tots-there are Idaho® Fries to meet your needs.

Idaho® French Fries can be held for 5–7 minutes under a heat lamp (recommended for best results), on a steam table, or in warming cabinets.

Unadorned French fries are always popular, but increase your fry sales and your bottom line by serving Idaho® French Fries with a variety of dips or toppings. Try salsa, blue cheese or ranch-style dip, pesto mayonnaise, or a honey-mustard dip and turn an ordinary side into an exciting side or appetizer. Most toppings can be made "healthy" by using low- or nonfat dairy products or oils.

Idaho processors supply frozen French fry products in a variety of shapes, coatings, and styles.

Premium French fries have the "Grown in Idaho" seal on each carton.

When preparing frozen Idaho® French Fries, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's directions and follow these tips:

Storage and Handling:

  • Keep potatoes completely frozen before frying to minimize fat absorption and maximize crispness. We recommend a heat-resistant freezer close to the fryer.
  • Rotate frozen potatoes or they will lose moisture, develop ice crystals, and absorb off-flavors.
  • Handle frozen fries carefully to protect their length, appearance, and yield.
  • Don't throw or drop bags or cases-a 3-foot drop can break 35% of the pieces.

Frying:

  • Be sure to find the right temperature for your frying conditions. Don't exceed 365°F.
  • Lower the oil temperature results in longer cooking times and greater fat absorption.
  • Use a timer for best results.
  • Fill fry baskets half-full; overloading lowers the temperature and results in soggy, greasy fries.
  • When fries are golden brown, lift basket and shake gently to remove excess oil. Never leave a basket over the fryer, as heat will make fries limp.
  • Don't salt fries over the oil.

Oven Preparation:

  • A sheet pan is recommended for better air circulation.
  • Spread potatoes in a single layer, permitting sufficient air flow and avoiding excessive moisture transfer to accelerate heat penetration.
2. Mashed

Idaho® Mashed Potatoes are one of the most popular items in foodservice-appearing on 66% menus-because their versatility allows chefs to use them as a base ingredient for signature dishes with exciting variations that include buttermilk-bacon and garlic-olive oil.

The high solids content of Idaho® Potatoes provides a dry, mealy interior ideal for mashed potatoes with a distinct texture and rich, hearty flavor. The low moisture content results in lighter, fluffier mashed potatoes, prevents waxy or watery product, and improves yield.

Many operators find that processed Idaho® Mashed Potatoes in flakes, granules, or frozen form offer significant cost and labor savings. Preseasoned, butter-flavored mashed potatoes with made-from-scratch flavor and appearance are also available.

Mashed potatoes can be simple or fancy, inexpensive or upscale. Top with brown gravy and serve with meat loaf or top with butter and serve with fried chicken. Mix with horseradish and serve with steak. Add roasted garlic and serve with lobster tail. Or create your own signature dishes with these ideas:

  • Blend with spices, chopped niçoise olives, olive oil, and milk.
  • Add sautéed onion, chopped basil, minced garlic, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Add 3 egg yolks per 1 pint mashed potatoes. Add butter and cream until mixture is of piping consistency. Using a star tube, pipe potatoes onto baking sheets. Sprinkle grated Swiss cheese on top. Bake at 300°F until brown.
  • Idaho® Instant Mashed Potato Flakes can be used in a number of versatile recipes in their dry form. Add flakes to breading for fish, chicken, and vegetables or use them with a combination of flour, corn meal, or crushed corn flakes. Thicken soups and stews and increase moistness by adding flakes to bread, pancakes, doughnuts, and roll recipes. Simply add 3/4 cup flakes to every 5 to 6 cups of flour.

Mashed Idaho® Potatoes also have a healthy side. Tasty, satisfying, nutrition-oriented mashed potatoes can be made by:

  • Using herbs instead of salt to accent the natural flavor of mashed potatoes.
  • Adding mashed potatoes to a leek and onion soup base. Add buttermilk and paprika for lively flavor.
  • Preparing mashed potatoes with chicken stock and skim milk; add ground nutmeg or ground coriander.

Instant
When making Idaho® Mashed Potatoes from flakes or granules, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. Store unopened containers away from intense heat. After opening, cover each container with a tight-fitting lid and store in a cool, dry area. When adding milk (whole, low-fat, skim, or nonfat dry) to flakes or granules, it must be at refrigerator temperature (35 - 40°F).

Processed Idaho® Mashed Potatoes can be held in a steam table (moist heat #5). Granules should be held no more than 30 minutes; flakes, no more than 1-1/4 hours. Granules and flakes can also be held in 250°F warming cabinets for 30 and 50 minutes, respectively. Hold potatoes in deep pans and keep covered with a lid or plastic wrap. If a dry heat table is used, set pan in water bath.

Frozen
Frozen Idaho® Potatoes are precooked and precut, meaning less preparation time. Follow the manufacturer's directions for steaming, boiling, or microwaving. Typically, mashed potatoes made from a frozen product can be held longer-usually up to 4 hours on a steam table or in a warming cabinet at 175 - 200°F. Refer to the manufacturer's directions for specific steaming, boiling, microwaving, and holding times.

3. Baked / Twice-Baked

Idaho® Potato Skins are fun, delectable, and appealing as a side dish, an appetizer, a light meal, or at parties and receptions.

There's no side dish more classic than a hot, steaming baked potato, and offering Idaho® Twice-Baked Potatoes is a great way to add value to your menu.

Check with your supplier or distributor-Idaho® Baked, Twice-Baked Potatoes, and Idaho® Potato Skins are available frozen in a wide variety of sizes and flavors to save time and labor. Many processors are also willing to develop custom products, as well.

All of the factors that make the Idaho® Potato the most preferred potato make frozen Idaho® Twice-Baked and Skins great. The low moisture content, 21% solids, and low sugar content result in less shrinkage, distinct texture, and delicious taste with a skin that is ideal for twice-baked and skin applications.

Although Idaho® Twice-Baked Potatoes come in a variety of flavors that need no extras, you can make yours extra special by sprinkling with fresh herbs or grated cheese, or by drizzling with cheese sauce or gravy.

Idaho® Potato Skins are available frozen in plain or already-filled varieties that include sour cream and chive, cheddar cheese, and gourmet blend. Order them plain and offer a wide variety of toppings, such as:

  • Mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green peppers, sprouts.
  • Butter/margarine; Parmesan, cottage, ricotta, blue, and cheddar cheeses.
  • Diced ham, ground beef, shredded chicken, surimi chunks.
  • Chili, pizza sauce, BBQ sauce, salsa, guacamole, salad dressings.

Or season skins with:

  • Melted butter and a blend of ground white, black, and pink peppercorns.
  • Melted butter and dried tarragon leaves, dried basil leaves, and dried rosemary leaves.
  • Olive oil, garlic powder, dried mint leaves, and dried oregano leaves.
  • Olive oil and dried thyme leaves, dried parsley, and minced onion. For low-fat skins, try spraying the skins with butter-flavored cooking spray, then bake.

Setting up an Idaho® Potato Skin bar, similar to a potato bar, is a fun way to allow customers to create their own signature potato skins. For complete information on potato bars, write or call for our Genuine Idaho® Potato Bar Merchandising Guide.

As with all processed Idaho® Potato products, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions carefully for best results. Keep in mind you save yourself 2/3 preparation time versus scratch and there's less waste with frozen. You can maintain an exact portion control of every serving and maintain consistent quality.

4. Hash Browns

Whether you call them hash browns, home fries, fried potatoes, or skillet fries, the best are made with Idaho® Potatoes-the essential ingredient for hash browns with a satisfying taste and texture due to their high solids content.

Dehydrated or frozen hash browns are both cost and labor efficient, without sacrificing that great Idaho® Potato taste.

Dehydrated Idaho® Hash Browns are packed in a variety of foodservice sizes in cartons or bags.

Frozen Idaho® Hash Browns are available in bulk packs and in a wide variety of styles:

  • Preportioned shredded
  • IQF shredded
  • Slices, dices, skin-on
  • Random cuts and specialty styles

Serve Idaho® Hash Browns with every breakfast entrée to increase value or as an à la carte side to increase check averages. At lunch, use hash browns to add delicious flavor to quiche crusts, soups, and breads. At dinner, serve garlic potato cakes as an appetizer or as a side with meat entrées. Or try these other ideas throughout your menu:

  • For Southwest flavor, toss Idaho® Hash Browns with corn, diced red pepper, minced jalapeño peppers, and garlic. Top with guacamole or salsa and serve with steak, ribs, or pork.
  • Make a hash brown pizza by topping cooked hash browns with sliced roasted vegetables and a blend of cheeses, then bake.
  • Add grated, sliced zucchini and grated parsnips or turnips. Season with garlic, sage, and rosemary, then skillet-cook.
  • Line muffin tins with hash browns and bake off as individual cups for scrambled eggs at brunch.

Hash browns also can be a "healthy" alternative. Just follow these simple tips:

  • Reduce fat by using a nonstick fry pan and cooking spray instead of oil.
  • Oven-bake instead of frying to substantially reduce fat and calories. Spray pan with nonstick butter-flavored cooking spray before baking.

When cooking processed Idaho® Hash Browns, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions carefully.

Storage and Handling:

  • Store cases of frozen Idaho® Hash Browns in a freezer at 0°F or colder.
  • Rotate frozen hash browns; otherwise they will lose moisture, develop ice crystals, and absorb off-flavors.
  • Unopened containers of dehydrated hash browns can be stored in a cool, dry area for up to one year. After opening, cover each container with a tight-fitting lid and store in a cool, dry area for up to six months.

Grilling:

  • Thaw frozen hash browns in refrigerator prior to grilling.
  • Oil the preheated grill; do not pour oil over the hash browns.
  • Avoid flattening the hash browns.
  • Keep the mixture loose so that the surfaces brown evenly.
  • High temperatures will allow even browning without excess oil absorption.

Frying:

  • Be sure to find the right temperature for your frying conditions.
  • The lower the oil temperature, the longer the cooking time and the greater the fat absorption.
  • When hash browns are golden in color, lift basket and shake gently to remove excess oil.
  • Never leave basket over fryer; heat will make hash browns soggy.

Oven:

  • Use a sheet pan for better circulation.
  • Thaw frozen layers in refrigerator on covered sheet pans.
  • Mix dehydrated hash browns thoroughly to coat all pieces with melted margarine or seasonings.
  • Layer no more than 1" of hash browns.

Processed hash browns can be held in a dry heat steam table, set at 5 - 7, for 30 minutes. They can also be held in a 175°F warming cabinet for 15 - 20 minutes.

5. Scalloped / Au Gratin

Scalloped and au gratin potatoes are the original signature potato dishes that will remind your customers of special occasions-especially if you make them with Idaho® Potatoes.

Idaho® Potatoes' distinct, hearty flavor stands up well to seasonings and flavors, giving you dishes with true potato taste. The high solids and low moisture content means less shrinkage, more plate coverage, and light texture.

With the variety of dehydrated and frozen scalloped and au gratin potatoes available, nearly any foodservice operation can offer these premium dishes.

Update scalloped and au gratin Idaho® Potatoes with some simple enhancements to create new favorites:

  • Add ground nutmeg, chopped chives, and grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Layer with turnip slices and Spanish onion slices. Add milk to cover. Dot with butter, then bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Add Dijon-style mustard to white sauce. Layer potatoes with shredded Swiss, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or cheddar and diced ham. Top with sauce and bake.
  • For healthier, flavorful scalloped potatoes, use skim milk, then add chopped fresh sage leaves and thinly sliced yellow onion.
  • Replace flat lasagna noodles with scalloped potatoes. Cook slices until tender, and layer hotel pan first with tomato sauce, then 1/3 of the sliced potatoes, and a spinach-ricotta mixture; repeat. Sprinkle top layer with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 1 hour at 400°F.

As with all processed Idaho® Potato products, always read and follow the manufacturer's directions carefully for best results.

The potatoes should be tender but hold their shape when portioned. The sauce should be smooth and uncurdled. For most attractive portioning, hold potatoes for 10 minutes before serving.

En casserole dishes hold longer than boiled or baked potatoes. Cover dish loosely with foil and hold in a warm place through a typical service period, about two hours. If necessary, reheat in the oven or brown lightly under a salamander or broiler.