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Has this ever happened to you? You dice or shred some potatoes for cooking and then move on to other preparation. The chopped potatoes sit out for a while before you are ready to cook them. And, alas, they’re all gross and brown! How do you prevent this from happening?
Why Do Potatoes Turn Brown After Peeling?
Once you’ve peeled a potato and exposed the starchy white parts to the air, it will quickly begin to turn brown. This browning is due to the oxidation of the starches in the potato. Potatoes will turn gray, or brown, and eventually, even black.
A brown (or gray or black) potato is perfectly safe to eat. Although the actual taste of the potato is not affected, the appearance is off-putting and, since we eat with our eyes, this will affect our perception of the potato’s taste. Nobody wants to eat gross brown mashed potatoes, after all.
How To Keep Potatoes From Turning Brown
The best way to avoid brown potatoes is to peel and cut them at the last minute, just before cooking. This may not always be convenient, however.
So, if you must peel, chop, or shred your potatoes in advance, the best way to keep them from turning brown is to submerge them in cold water. This will help to prevent the exposure to oxygen (in the air) that causes oxidation. You can store peeled potatoes in cold water for up to a day by placing them in the fridge. If you want to be extra sure or need to store them a bit longer, put a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in the water.
Shredded potatoes for hash browns will brown very quickly so you may need to place batches of shredded spuds into cold water while you finish shredding the remaining potatoes. But, if you are making hash browns, sopping wet potatoes are a big no-no. You’ll need to dry them thoroughly.
First, slosh the potatoes around in the water to wash off excess starch from the surface of the shreds. Then, to dry them, I recommend a lint-free kitchen towel such as a flour-sack linen towel. Place the shredded potatoes in a clean towel, wrap them up, and squeeze and twist the towel to release as much of the water as possible. If desired, repeat with a new, dry towel.