Other than a food processor or a grater, you don't need any special equipment to freeze potatoes for homemade hash browns. Once you wash the potatoes, shred or cut them as desired and cook the potatoes for a short time, either by blanching them or by baking them in the oven. This removes excess moisture from the potatoes, which keeps their texture and flavor intact. When you're ready to use the frozen hash browns, place them in a hot pan or oven until they are brown, crispy and hot throughout.
Cutting or Shredding the Potatoes
For most people, hash browns are made from crispy shredded potatoes, while others like to use cubed spuds to create their version. Use Russet potatoes for the crispiest, best-tasting hash browns.
If you like your hash browns cubed, wash the potatoes and peel them, if you wish. Cut each potato into evenly sized cubes or chunks and soak the pieces in a bowl of ice water to prevent the potatoes from turning brown while you finish cutting all of the potatoes.
For shredded hash browns, wash and peel the potatoes and then shred them with a box grater or in a food processor. Shredded potatoes tend to oxidize relatively quickly. If you're shredding them by hand with a grater, you may need to soak the shredded potato in a bowl of ice water to prevent the shreds from turning brown before you're finished shredding all of the potatoes. If you're using a food processor, you only need to do this if you're working in batches.
Preparing for the Freezer
A little preparation helps preserve the texture and flavor of the potatoes to give you better hash browns once you've thawed the frozen potatoes.
Blanch cubed or chopped potatoes by adding them carefully to a large pot of boiling water. This step halts the enzymatic actions that lead to loss of flavor while softening the potatoes and removing extra moisture that can compromise the texture. Place a lid on the pot of boiling water and cook the potatoes for approximately three to five minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water. Drain the potatoes and transfer them immediately to the ice bath to halt the cooking process.
Cook shredded potatoes after draining them. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and spread the shredded potato in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake them for approximately 30 minutes, or until the potatoes start looking slightly dry. Blanching shredded potatoes can be tricky, and partially cooking them in the oven allows you to remove the excess moisture without ending up with mush.
Alternatively, you could cook whole potatoes before shredding them, which Oregon State University Extension recommends. Cook the potatoes until they are slightly softened. Then, let them cool to the touch before peeling and shredding them.
Freezing Partially Cooked Potatoes
Drain the potatoes after blanching them, or allow the baked shredded potatoes to cool thoroughly. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel and arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a clean baking sheet. Freeze the potatoes until they are solid. This prevents them from clumping in the freezer. Once the individual pieces are frozen, pack the potatoes in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing the storage container. Freeze the potatoes for up to 12 months.
Freezing Cooked Hash Browns
You can also go ahead and cook the hash browns as you normally would. Combine them with your seasonings of choice and bake or pan fry the hash browns until they begin to brown, but approximately 10 minutes less than you would cook them for immediate serving. Allow the cooked hash browns to cool before packing in an airtight container or resealable bag. Freeze the potatoes for one to three months. To reheat, place the frozen patties in a pan with 2 to 4 tablespoons of oil or butter and fry until hot.
- The Frugal Woman's Guide to a Rich Life; Stacia Ragiola
- Oregon State University Extension: Freezing Convenience Foods That You've Prepared at Home
- The Vedge: Homemade Hash Browns – Freezer Friendly (Gluten Free)
- PickYourOwn.org: How to Freeze Potatoes
- Serious Eats: How to Make the Crispiest Shredded Hash Browns
- North Dakota State University Extension: Freezing Potatoes
- Photo Credit caojianxiong/iStock/Getty Images
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