Q. My French fries taste odd, what’s up? My tater tots are bitter, any clues on what’s happening?
A. It could be the potatoes: there are variations in varieties, or the time of year the potatoes were processed or perhaps, they picked up an off flavor in storage. Usually the only flavor I pick up this way is a cardboard or musty flavor. However, this is easy to eliminate as an issue – just taste the potato before you cook it to see if it’s the culprit.
More often than not, its’ the preparation steps that you take or the oil that you are using. Former Simplot training director, Greg Shannon, used to travel the USA and foreign countries diagnosing problems, and more often than not this is what he found: It’s the oil. This is 90% of the typical off-flavor source. Change it, filter it, take some out of the fryer, let it cool to touch and (gross) taste it. Oil will pick up flavors, especially from bits of food that is not properly strained. Oil is not infallible, watch to see that it isn’t being kept too hot – 350°F max for fries. Salt will break down the oil. To learn more about this go to a wonderful website: www.fitfrying.com.
What about the potatoes? In the distribution cycle did they thaw and refreeze? Are you slacking your fries (letting them cool off instead of frying frozen?) Are the tots stored next to other foods that can give them an off flavor? Onion and green peppers can do this. Are the prep containers clean? All of the above can influence the final served potatoes. Check it out!