May 21st, 2013
Q. I made mashed potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese that have been in an airtight container in my refrigerator for a week. Are they safe to eat?
A. As long as they look and smell fine—meaning the color is not grey and the sour cream and cream cheese have not curdled—you should be fine. Bear in mind that while restaurants keep food product for that duration, their refrigeration is controlled. Home refrigerators can fluctuate in temperature more often, which can lead to a shorter shelf life.
May 17th, 2013
Q. Is it possible to buy frozen sliced potatoes in larger quantities (like potato chips sold in bags but cut thicker) which I can fry finish at my café?
A. Good news! All three major potato processors have this kind of product. You can choose product with the skin left on or cut to different thicknesses. Here are some examples:
May 14th, 2013
Q. Healthy items on menus were once the bane of successful sales with customers looking at the heart check mark next to a listing on the menu and avoiding it at all costs. Now I find healthy choices are really boosting my sales and traffic and helping to counter the “no” vote when a group comes in for my indulgent burgers and fries. Any examples you might make for healthy potatoes?
A. Wait staff scripting can be a creative way to handle this. A quick and healthy way to do this is to add salsa to a plain baked potato, or serving it with a side of creamy horseradish or a squeeze of lemon instead of a scoop of butter and sour cream. A couple of years ago we ran a series of “Watching Waistline and Wallets” recipes for consumers and the ideas were very flavorful and filling too. Here is that collection: http://www.idahopotato.com/wwaw_contest
May 10th, 2013
Q. I run a barbecue website where I teach my readers to use thermometers to measure doneness. However, I can’t find the ideal temperature for a baked potato. At what temperature is a baked potato done?
A. We recommend baking potatoes at 400 degrees F for about an hour. Smaller spuds might take a little less time, while larger baking potatoes over 1 pound might take a little more. For a fully baked Idaho Russet Burbank, the internal temperature should be right at 210 degrees F. In foodservice, where the baked potato will be kept warm after it comes out of the oven, we recommend the internal temp to be 185 degrees F as the potato will continue to cook.
May 7th, 2013
Q. I want to bake 50 medium-sized Idaho potatoes in roaster ovens. The temperature of the roaster goes up to 400 degrees. With 25 baker potatoes jammed into each roaster, how long will they take to bake?
A. It’s hard to calculate how long it will take to roast them without knowing the size of the roaster and how the potatoes will be arranged. If you are able to arrange the potatoes in one layer in the roaster, they should finish baking between an hour and an hour and fifteen or twenty minutes. The potatoes should not be chilled and should instead be stored at room temperature so they don’t have to get warm before they start to bake. Bake them without wrapping them in foil—wrapping them slows down the baking process. Once the internal temperature of the potato reaches 210 degrees F, they’re done baking.
Update: I tested the roaster out with a 10-pound bag of No. 1 spuds. There were 29 in the bag and I cooked them in the roaster for around an hour and 45 minutes. They turned out perfectly!
Ten pounds in the roaster oven.
May 3rd, 2013
Q. What is the average length and circumference of a raw potato?
A. There is no one correct answer to this question because potatoes vary in size and length. In foodservice, the size ranges for no. 1 potatoes are determined by the USDA. Each carton of fifty pounds contains an average county of potatoes. For example, a 50-count potato would average around 1 pound each. However, the length could be long or short, so the circumference will vary. The most common size of potato shipped from Idaho is 80 or 90 count, which is smaller than a 50-count potato. Here’s a size chart with the actual potato sizes shown in ounces:
Size Guide [click to view PDF]
April 30th, 2013
Q. I love the theory of “cook once, eat twice.” Does the Idaho Potato Commission have some slow cooker or casserole dishes that would work for this?
A. Yes! Potatoes are a great time-saving, economical staple to make several delicious meals. Here are several great recipes your family will love:
“Slow Cooker” Farmer’s Market Idaho® Potato Stew [click to view]
Easy, Cheesy Idaho® Potatoes and Ham [click to view]
Traditional “Slow Cooker” Mashed Idaho® Potatoes [click to view]
Block and Tackle Idaho® Potato Casserole [click to view]
Baked Idaho® Mashed Potato Casserole [click to view]
California Casserole [click to view]
April 26th, 2013
Q. I own a fast food franchise and straight-cut potato chips are our biggest seller. With the price of chips extremely high, I decided to make my own. How do I maximize the volume of chips out of a 10kg bag? Also, is there any natural chemical I can use to store the chips?
A. To maximize the yield this year, because of the low price of both No. 1 and No. 2 potatoes, I would suggest ordering a No. 1 80- or 90-count carton (the approximate number of potatoes in each 50-pound box) and leaving the skin on so that there is little trimming cost.
This worksheet, developed by Lamb Weston, might prove helpful in comparing costs. Making chips from scratch requires a lot more labor in order to make them properly. http://www.lambweston.com/support/profit_calculators/fresh_vs_frozen_calculator.jsp
Regarding preservatives, the only ones I would recommend using are concentrated lemon juice or white wine vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon per gallon of water to prevent oxidation of the potatoes.
April 23rd, 2013
Q. With the popularity of wine flights, beer flights and appetizers prepared three ways on one plate, do you have a suggestion that I could add to my menu?
A. Yes! We love the idea of combining all the potato side dishes for the evening as an ever-changing appetizer or doing a cycle of rotating mashed potato sides. Check out the examples below for possible additions to your menu:
Four potatoes fixed two ways on one plate:
Norman Van Aken’s “Papas Chorreadas” [click to view]
No recipes with this potato medley, but pictured is a trio with saffron, basil pesto, and a Southwest version with corn jalapeno and red pepper
Trio of Mashed Idaho® Potatoes [click to view]
Blue Stilton and Candied Red Onion Custard Potato (recipe for the potato dish in the background) with mashed mushroom Parmesan and mashed spring pea and mint [click to view]
Easter Egg Idaho® Potatoes [click to view]
April 19th, 2013
Q. I know Idaho grows a lot of russet potatoes, but I’ve seen the Grown in Idaho seal on reds, yellows, and even fingerling potatoes. Are these potatoes really from Idaho? How many yellow potatoes are grown annually in Idaho?
A. Yes! These potatoes really are from Idaho. We grow about 12 billion pounds of potatoes each year, and while most of them are Russet Norkotah or Burbank varieties, about 4-5% of our annual production is non-brown spuds. According to the USDA, Idaho shipped over 60 million pounds of yellow-type potatoes in 2012. That’s a whole lot of non-russets! Try out any of our delicious varieties the next time you go to the grocery store—and always look for the Grown in Idaho seal!