Posts Tagged ‘french fries’


What Is The Difference Between No.1 And No. 2 Idaho® Potatoes?

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Q. What is the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 Potatoes?
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What Size Idaho® Potatoes Should I Buy?

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Q. What size Idaho® potatoes should I buy?

A. 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.

How Do I Leach Out Starch For Making Fries And How Can I Make Them Crispy?

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Q. Is ice water more effective than room temperature water for leaching out starch for making fries? Also, do you know what method creates a light and crispy exterior verses one which is hard and leathery?  Is it the potato or the process?

A. Chilling the water or adding ice is a method that helps the cells seal up and makes for a crisper fry when blanched. Warm or room temp water is better for leaching the starches, some operators or manufacturers actually blanch (or boil) the potatoes in water to remove excess starches. Many making fresh cut fries, first cut the potatoes, rinse in water till the water is clear, then transfer to plastic buckets with water, place in the walk in and come back in a few hours. Typically the excess surface starch will drop to the bottom of the bucket. By the way, this excess starch, when captured, makes an excellent thickener for soups and is gluten free too!

Light and crispy defines the results you get from using a high solid, low moisture potato. Typically, the Russet Burbank variety from Idaho works very well for this. Medium to medium high solids, such as the Yukon Gold or Russet Norkotah can work, but I have found that you need to blanch them at a lower temperature for longer. Search “high solids” and “fresh fries” on the Dr. Potato web site, top right corner. You can also scroll down to the cloud words (most often mentioned) and click on solids or fries or starch there. It could also be the oil type or oil temperature, when a lot of potatoes are added at once it drives down the temperature.

Perfect Fresh-cut French Fries

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Q. I love the choice we made several years ago to serve fresh-cut Idaho fries, but I’d like to know how we can make them more consistent?  It seems like we are getting some batches that fry up perfectly and the next batch is dark.

A.  Hand-cut fries are a great selling feature and very popular with customers. Here are several tips for making the best possible hand-cut fries:

It’s always hard to diagnose what is happening a long distance away when fresh cut fries are being used as an everyday signature item. It’s very difficult to maintain consistency year-round as potatoes can come from a number of different fields, which vary in soil type, are planted and harvested at different times, and are subject to different weather conditions. Nearly twenty years ago, only one variety was being used nearly exclusively: the Russet Burbank. My predecessor spent a week at multiple Houston restaurants before making our fresh frying recommendations for all chains based on what she saw happening. What she found was that the Russet Burbank, when stored properly, had less of a tendency to accumulate sugars. The Burbank is hard to grow because changes in climate or water will result in multiple knobs or funny-shaped potatoes. When I started on the Commission 23 years ago, this variety accounted for 94% of all the potatoes Idaho grew. Many other states also grew more Russet Burbanks than any other variety. Now this variety is almost non-existent in Colorado or substantially reduced (Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon) but still about 50% of the fresh potato production in Idaho. It still is the preferred variety by a number of chains specializing in fresh-cut fries.

Some have success with our Norkotah Russet variety, which is much improved over the first generations in having a higher average solids and storing better for extended usage.

The yellow flesh varieties will fry up very good also, but I don’t have much hands-on experience with their variations so I can’t help much with the analysis.

There are some specific things that can help… many of these tips are mentioned at the Dr. Potato blog in the foodservice section of www.idahopotato.com and various searchable blogs such as  http://foodserviceblog.idahopotato.com/back-to-school-basics-with-fresh-cut-fries/. We have a lot of postings since 2009 on fries. Also,  in the pdf Foodservice toolkit: http://foodservice.idahopotato.com/downloads/Foodservice-Toolkit.pdf are step by step basics.

Here is what I would start on…

At the distributor location… Make sure they put the potatoes at the front of the refrigeration  area, near the plastic sheets that are used to drive thru the entrance, this is usually the warmest part of the warehouse. Keep them as low as possible as there is less circulation of air at the top of the shelving and more towards ground level. If you have the capability to pre-stage a weeks worth of spuds that is perfect. Docks may not be ideal  (so many are refrigerated and cold now). Warmer temps can help re-condition the potatoes. Above 40° F the starch is turning to sugar on russets.

At the restaurant… Bring in enough to rotate first-in first-out. This is what Outback Steakhouse did for years with great sucess. It is what Five Guys does. Store at room temps, but not too hot so not next to the fryers or ovens as they will sprout and the skin will wrinkle as the potatoes lose moisture. Check the solids, check the sugars (see Dr. Potato blogs on both).

Cut and wash the potatoes until the water runs clear. This helps rid them of any excess starch or sugar.  Lower the temps for blanching by at least 10-15 degrees and just blanch longer.

Frying Best Practices

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Q. It seems as if wavy ribbon fries soak up a lot of oil. Is there a better way to prep and fry for a better a taste?

A. Always fry fries from a frozen state for extra crispiness. Fry at 350 degrees F. Fill the frying basket half full and give it a shake in the middle of frying to reach any cold spots in the center of the fries. Also, this website should answer all of your frying technique questions: http://fitfrying.com/

What Causes Blanch Time to Increase When Using Low Solids Potatoes?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Q. What causes blanch time to go up when making French fries with low solids potatoes? What is the mechanism at work here?

A. Low solids means the potato has more moisture than a high solids or starch potato such as the Russet Burbank variety. So, what a potato processor does when they have to use a lower solids spud is dial in the right amount of cooking time and temperature as best as possible compensate for the removal of the excess water without the potato getting over cooked.  We recommend with the Norkotah variety, which typically may have less solids on average, you reduce the blanching cooking temperature, but also cook it longer. You’ll have to experiment with the times and temperatures, but start by blanching 15-25 degrees cooler and for another 1-2 minutes. The final product should still be light colored and not dark, but bend slightly to the touch so it is thoroughly cooked.

With new crop potatoes, they may contain excess sugar and starches, so be sure to cut and rinse in water until the water runs clear. Hopefully this helps.  Thanks for using Idaho potatoes at your operation.

Will a Bigger Potato Produce a Crispier French Fry?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Q. I have been using a 90 count russet burbank for my fries. They have not held their crispiness long enough for me to deliver a crispy fry at the table.  I spoke with my purveyor and they recommended I try a 60 count Idaho russet burbank.  I was surprised I had to buy such a large potato to accomplish this. I was thinking of cutting them in half before putting them through our cutter.  Can you confirm that a bigger potato will produce a crispier fry (with proper blanching at 325°F and re-frying at 350°F)?

A. The potato size won’t make a difference.  Each potato plant has about 8-12 potatoes on it, various sizes. There are several key factors in getting a crispy fry.  French fry machine temperatures, blanching/ finish frying and not overfilling baskets are some of the non-potato related things I always check first. Then there is the solids or starch content of the potato, the sugar accumulation (based on storing at temps above 40°F).   The following document might prove helpful in checking for possible issues.

Fresh Fries How-To

Fresh Fries How-To <click image to view>

French Fry Producer from the 1970’s

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Q. I would like to know how I can find a French fry producer who was in business back in 1970′s and 1980′s, who supplied French fries to eateries in Idaho. Can you please help me out?

A. All the major French fry processors in the United States were in business back then, Simplot and Ore-Ida were the largest in Idaho. Simplot invented the frozen fry and started up a plant in 1960 in Burley.

Hope this helps with your project. Several links appear below:

J. R. SIMPLOT BUILDS A POTATO EMPIRE pg 40

J. R. SIMPLOT BUILDS A POTATO EMPIRE pg 41

INDUSTRY REVOLUTION ACCOMPANIES GROWTH OF POTATO PROCESSING

And contact info for the processers is here:

Idaho® Potato Processors

 

Ordering Fries on the Side

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Baked Idaho® Potato Fries and Dipping SaucesQ. Fries used to be the only side option with our bundled meals, but now we have many side dish options. I believe these extra options are the reason why our food costs have been climbing—fries were much more profitable than offering a side salad or fruit. How can I get my profits back up?

A. First of all, I am willing to bet that your counter cashiers and order takers are no longer scripted to influence or say… “Would you like fries with that” and probably even more importantly the signage on the menu boards now plays down photos of the fries and instead highlights all the other choices. There’s nothing wrong with that, and some would argue that offering healthier sides makes good nutritional sense. That doesn’t account for the popularity of potatoes, but it smacks your food cost percentages pretty hard.

Here are some suggestions… if you don’t offer a smaller size fry portion, consider it. But don’t just take away fries—add some fun dips or sauces for the fries. That way, the person receiving the fries can enjoy each bite just a little bit more and is likely to order them again the next time they come in. Flavored ketchup, salsa, chipotle mayo, or BBQ sauce add a tasty zip to the fries.

Starting a French Fry Restaurant

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Q. What kind of equipment do I need to start a small French fry restaurant?

A. Start out by going to this web site for tips on frying: www.fitfrying.com

Then, my advice is to buy the best machinery you can afford, because if you do high volume you will need it. The biggest investment will be the fryer. Both electric and gas can work, but it depends on what is available for your space.To start out you could try purchasing a used fryer, but get a name brand like Frymaster or Pitco. There are several used fry machine dealers on the internet now and Ebay is also an option. While I don’t personally recommend one over the other, here is a site to get you started:  http://www.basequipment.com/Gas-Floor-Model-Fryers-s/210.htm

Capacity is important, but so is recovery time and the shorter the recovery time, the better you will be able to keep the oil at a consistent  temperature and increase your chances for a better fry. If you can finance a new fryer, even better. Just remember, staying in business means you have to break even as fast as possible, so don’t over invest in your first place. You can always upgrade later. But buying quality always pays off. Remember to get extra baskets and possibly a rack to have cut, blanched potatoes ready to go. A roll-around holder for the baskets can help.

As far as cutting the fries, my favorite hand cutter is one that is durable, won’t flex when used frequently and is easy to get replacement parts. An old reliable is the Keen Kutter. It runs about $300 and is money well spent. Vollrath also has a good one. If the cost is about $100 I can almost guarantee it won’t last and the blades will not stay sharp for very long.

You will also need all the usual kitchen equipment: three-compartment or double stainless steel sinks to wash and drain the potatoes. Rinse the cut potatoes and place into big tubs of water (or use plastic buckets that food such as pickles and mayo comes in). You HAVE to blanch the potatoes to get a decent final fry. I don’t know of any way around this. Then, you need to store the blanched potatoes, usually in plastic tubs, in refrigeration such as a walk-in or, if starting a restaurant on a small scale, a reach-in.

For peelers, Hobart has some of the traditional ones that grind off the skins, but they’re abrasive by nature and can bruise what is left of the spuds. Most restaurants leave the skin on as the best way to give a homemade appearance.

That pretty well sums up the equipment needed. I wish you the best of success in your venture. By the way, the best investment you could make is to volunteer to work at a place that does fresh cut fries for a couple of weeks to see and experience the steps firsthand.