Freeze Potatoes to Save Time and Money
Potatoes—including white potatoes and sweet potatoes, will last for weeks at room temperature and up to a month or so if kept in a cool, dark place with good ventilation. (See How to Store Potatoes to learn how to store them properly.) But did you know they can also be frozen and can last for several months if prepped and frozen properly? It's true, and when you consider that potatoes are often sold in large 5-pound bags, freezing starts to sound like a very smart option. Add in the affordability, versatility and ease of cooking potatoes and you'll be stocking your freezer with spuds all the time. Plus, for some dishes freezing the potatoes can actually improve their texture and flavor. For everything you need to know about freezing potatoes and sweet potatoes, including how to freeze french fries and mashed potatoes, read on.
How to Freeze Potatoes
The key to freezing potatoes and sweet potatoes—whether for fries, hash browns or even simple roasted wedges—is to partially cook them first. Because they contain so much water, raw potatoes don't freeze well and can turn mushy, watery or even grainy. Cooking before freezing might seem like a hassle but instead think of it as a time saver. Partially cooked potatoes require less oven time, which is especially helpful for holidays and special occasions when there are a lot of dishes competing for time and space in the oven.
Whether you peel potatoes for freezing is up to you, but as with all ingredients, it's important to only freeze potatoes that are still at the peak of freshness and not those that should really go in the compost bin. Freeze potatoes in airtight freezer bags, preferably in a single layer for quicker freezing and defrosting, and always date and label the bag, so you can keep track of what's in your freezer and food doesn't go to waste.
Frozen potatoes can often be used straight from the freezer, but if do want to thaw them first, always defrost them in the refrigerator. You may find the taste or texture to be a bit different than if you used fresh potatoes, so check doneness to be sure you don't overcook your potatoes. You can freeze sweet potatoes using the same methods as for regular potatoes but the timing may differ slightly.
How to Freeze Potatoes for Roasting
Freezing potatoes that you plan to roast not only saves time but can actually make for extra crunchy spuds. Peel potatoes, if desired, then cut into wedges, cubes or chunks and blanch in boiling water until they are tender but still have some bite. Cooking times will vary depending on the potato variety and how large or small the pieces you cut them into are, but what's important is that the potatoes should not be fully cooked. Drain the potatoes then plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, drain again and let cool completely. Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet, making sure they are not touching, then freeze for 6 to 12 hours, or until solid. Next, transfer the potatoes to airtight freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to roast, toss the frozen potatoes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast until golden and crisp.
How to Freeze French Fries
As with roasted potatoes, french fries require blanching, but the extra step has the added benefit of making fries that are crisp on the outside yet irresistibly fluffy on the inside. If desired, peel the potatoes, then cut into thick or thin slices, depending on your preference. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the fries for about 2 minutes, adjusting the time as needed for the variety and size of the potatoes. Next, plunge the potatoes into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the fries and let them dry completely then toss in a little vegetable oil—about 1 tablespoon for every 2 pounds of potatoes—spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 6 hours or overnight. Transfer frozen fries to an airtight freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Homemade french fries can be baked or fried straight from the freezer.
How to Freeze Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes often contain rich ingredients, such as cream, sour cream or cream cheese, which helps preserve their texture throughout the freezing and thawing process. Prepare mashed potatoes according to your recipe, then spoon into an airtight freezer bag—or divide your mash into individual portions—let cool completely and freeze for up 6 months. Thaw frozen mashed potatoes in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven or microwave, being sure to stir them before serving.
How to Freeze Twice-Baked Potatoes (Stuffed Potatoes)
Twice-baked potatoes, also known as stuffed potatoes, are perfect for prepping ahead and freezing for quick weeknight meals—as with mashed potatoes, the cheese or sour cream they usually contain helps make them more freezer friendly. Make the potatoes according to your recipe, then let cool completely, wrap individually in foil or plastic wrap, place in an airtight freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can thaw twice-baked potatoes in the refrigerator or reheat them from frozen in the oven or microwave. Baked potatoes can be frozen the same way, but don't freeze quite as well because they lack the richness of cheese or sour cream.
How to Freeze Hash Browns
Shredded potatoes for making hash browns, as well as hash brown waffles, hash brown cups and hash brown casseroles, can be frozen for up to a year and can be used straight from the freezer without defrosting (unless the recipe says to thaw them first). Shred the potatoes, holding them in a bowl of cold water while you finish shredding, then drain and blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain again and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, then spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pat dry. Store the potatoes in airtight freezer bags, so they are ready to be used in any dish calling for frozen hash browns.
How to Freeze Scalloped Potatoes and Potato Gratins
Scalloped potatoes and potato gratins are ideal for freezing, giving you a jump start on dinner. It's best to cook the dish until the potatoes are getting tender and starting to brown but are not fully cooked. Cool completely, wrap well and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Let thaw in the fridge, then bake until the potatoes are fully cooked and the dish is heated through. If you're sprinkling your potatoes with cheese, it's best to add that after freezing, once the dish is back in the oven and almost ready.