Even though my husband and I are empty nesters now I know it's often much cheaper to buy that large bag of potatoes than to just pick up a few or buy a smaller bag. So when I see that large bag go on sale I grab them! I'll set a few aside for eating fresh such as making mashed potatoes (purposefully making more than we'll eat that night so I'll have enough leftover to make our favorite Potato Cakes the next night!).
But what about the rest of the potatoes in that mammoth bag? I dehydrate them!
Luckily dehydrating potatoes is easy! When you dehydrate potatoes you must first partially cook them to prevent them from turning black. You can cook your potatoes using your favorite method whether oven or microwave, but even though we are still in the cold months here in NE Texas, I'm able to use my Solar Oven to bake mine.
When the sun is low in the sky during our winter months my oven won't heat as quickly or attain temperatures as high as it will when the sun is higher during the summer months, but I still get the oven to heat to about 300 degrees pretty consistently. Here's how I used my solar oven.
I like my potatoes with the skins left on so first I scrub the potatoes well and trim deeper crevices to remove any grit. Then I pierce the potatoes a few times and pack them as tightly as I can in a black enamel pan. Finally I place the lid on the pan and place it in the solar oven, properly aimed at the sun.
I typically adjust the oven to aim it more directly to the sun a couple of times throughout the cooking time. I only want the potatoes to be about 3/4 of the way cooked so mine were ready in about 3 hours — your time could vary based on how large your potatoes are and your cooking method.
Be sure to cook them about 3/4 done — I tried to rush one batch of potatoes and didn't cook them quite enough and the cut sections all turned a horrid black color.
Thankfully, I was using this batch for dehydrated hash browns, so I simply cooked the potatoes a little longer and cut away the darkest sections of the potatoes and grated the rest and they dehydrated well for that purpose. But today, I'm making dehydrated cubed potatoes so that I can drop them into simmering soups or even rehydrate them into a buttered potato side dish, so using the same procedure as above I prepared them and into the solar oven they went. When they were about 3/4 cooked, I brought them inside, allowed them to cool and placed them in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
The next morning, I diced the cold potatoes into approximately 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces and spread them out on my Excalibur Dehydrator trays and set the temperature to 125 degrees.
Mine took about 10 hours to dry, but again this time is dependent on how dense (ie: cooked) the potato is as well as the uniformity and size of your pieces, how often you rotate the trays, how evenly you've spread them out and even the humidity in your area. You want your dehydrated potatoes to be hard and dry.
I poured my dehydrated potato pieces into a large container but I left the lid off for a couple of days and shook the contents several times each day just in case there was a tiny bit of moisture remaining in one of those pieces. Then I sealed it up and placed them in the pantry.
When I want to eat them, I'll simply drop a handful into my brothy soup as it simmers and they will rehydrate and finish cooking right there in the soup pot! Of course, I could also rehydrate them by putting them in a pan, pouring just enough boiling water to cover them and then placing a lid on the pan, allowing them to rehydrate for about 45 minutes before finishing up their cooking time.
You can see by this picture how the potatoes rehydrate compared to their dehydrated counterparts. So go ahead, next time buy the BIG bag of potatoes and dehydrate them!
This article was written by Tammy Taylor, owner of the ~Taylor-Made Homestead~ blog. Tammy lives and works on a NE Texas ranch and writes about home cooking, gardening, food preservation, MIY, DIY and living as gently as possible on this big blue planet we call home. You can visit her Homestead Blog – or follow her on Facebook or Pinterest. Find all of Tammy's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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