Thursday, May 24, 2012
Storing And Freezing Harvested Potatoes
The excellent time to put up potatoes in the freezer is right after they are harvested. Freshly harvested potatoes are amazingly hard and crisp.Especially our beloved Texas Red Potatoes!
I cull out the small ones for storing in baskets that fit nicely under the island table in the kitchen. It stays fairly cool and dark there. They get all the dirt brushed off with a soft brush outdoors though before i bring them inside. It is important not to wash them before storing. It is also a very bad idea to store them in the refrigerator. They will keep well as long as it is cool, dark and perhaps very slightly humid. We don't have the luxury of some of those northern garden root cellars down south.
In Texas is gets extremely humid and hot in our neck of the woods near the gulf coast. It's very hard to keep potatoes here without them wanting to sprout. So all of the large potatoes are being prepared to go in the freezer.
Potatoes, like most fruit and vegetables will last 8 months to a year in the freezer. Fresh, hard crispy potatoes will stay nice and creamy in the freezer if processed correctly. Many people are surprised at the prospect of freezing potatoes, but they are not so different than frozen french fries or hash browns you would buy in the supermarket, except you know your own organically grown potatoes will taste so wonderful processed fresh from your own garden.
The potatoes can be cut like fries if you wish. We just prefer wedges because we avoid frying food. The wedges are fabulous added to your favorite dishes or just steamed with a tiny bit of butter and salt. They can also be oven fried with just a little oil on a baking sheet and come out awesome.
I use a firm scrub brush to scrub and wash up the potatoes and place them in a colander. The red potatoes are very thin skinned so much of the skin is removed during this process. Next we take them to the cutting board and begin chopping. I keep a quart size bowl handy and as they are chopped I add them to this bowl until it is almost over filled with cut potatoes.
Instead of bathing them in boiling water, I prefer to steam them in my double pasta pot and strainer. They must be steamed or boiled for at least 2 or 3 minutes.
I keep my large enamel canning pot handy and filled with cold water and ice. Once I have steamed the potatoes it is easy to lift the strainer out of the pasta pot to drain off the boiling water. Then I can simply set the whole strainer down into the ice water.
I then dump out the boiling water to refill it with new clean water. It doesn't take long for the water to heat back up since you are only steaming. The pot doesn't need that much water in it as it would if you were doing a full boil.For steaming you only need enough water in the pot to where it would just barely hit the bottom of the strainer.
I was so happy that Mr. Garden was here to help me put up the potatoes this year. We had quite a large harvest and I wanted to put up at least ten nice large quart size bags in the freezer. I'm hoping this will take us through most of the winter.
The reason why I used the quart size bowl in the beginning to put the chopped potatoes in is because I only steam that many potatoes at a time. Once they are cooled off in the ice water I have another strainer handy that holds just about a quart. The potatoes need to drain a little before they are placed in the bag. Press as much air out of the bag before sealing it and lay it out flat. Place them flat in the freezer. Don't stack the bags until they have frozen. Then they will stack quite nicely.