Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Taters ‘n Taters ‘n Taters… Oh My!

Idaho ‘Taters

My goodness, what a great deal we got!  You know, sometimes you simply luck into being in the right place at the right time.

I was at our Senior Center recently when a farmer from Idaho came by with a truckload of potatoes.  Normally, he sells his fifty pound boxes of potatoes for $20, but he offered some to the Center for $16.50. That’s only 33¢ per pound. The going rate in our local store is around 65¢ per pound, and they weren’t nearly as big. Now, these are huge baking potatoes and they were absolutely fantastic.  

I snapped up one whole box for myself and another box to share with my dehydrating friends (and anyone else I knew who might want some nice, fresh potatoes).  It’s a good thing to do in the event that you find a fantastic price on something.  In four days, I sold nearly 25 pounds of the additional potatoes.  Some of my dehydrating friends are newbies and still aren’t sure about this. Most of them took a small quantity. 

For once, I have enough to do something interesting with, and enough imagination to think in terms of a variety of uses. Over the next few weeks (as I keep getting batches of them dried and tested) I’ll be posting the results.

 Linda's Note: For some of you, the following tips may be a common practice, but I'm addressing newbies with this one.  So please forgive me if it's too simplistic for you.

First, I think I’ll cover a few tips and tricks I’ve developed that will save steps and make it easier to process potatoes.

Skins On 

Potato skins are super rich in nutrients. Mike and I both agree that potato skins need to be left on.  It’s a shame to peel the potatoes and throw away the skins.  However, if you choose to toss those skins, it’s a personal preference thing.  Trust me, the ‘Tater Cops won’t come snooping around your kitchen door. 

Fresh, natural potatoes come from the dirt. I used to use a fingernail brush to scrub them. It was difficult and time consuming (especially for those of us with muscle coordination and pain issues) 

  • This time I tried one of those scrubbing sponges with the rough green side for scrubbing non-stick cookware. Works perfectly! As you can see, the scrubbed tops of these potatoes are much cleaner than the unscrubbed bottom parts.
Damaged Spots Removed 

  • After scrubbing your ‘taters, check for damaged or bad spots and cut them off. It’s much easier to take care of that before you slice them.
A Flat Base 

Originally, I started slicing on the mandolin with the tip end of the potato. This resulted in very small to very large pieces.  However, with 50 pounds of spuds to deal with, I decided to take a short cut. 

One of the problems with a mandolin is that unless you start slicing your veggies very straight and upright, after a few swipes, you will end up with cuts on an angle, with the pieces getting longer and longer.

Nice Even Slices 

  • I decided to cut the tip end off the potato to give myself a good flat surface to work with.

Safety Thingie

Most mandolin slicers have a thingie you put over the food to keep from cutting your fingers.  You’re supposed to wedge the food into the thingie and push the plunger down.  But rarely have I had food pieces just the right size for doing that. So I usually end up not using it and hoping for the best. 

This works all right as long as you go slowly with the slicer, but invariably, I get into a rhythm and the next thing I know… zing! I’m adding bright red seasoning to the food! 

‘Spud Stubs 

  • Sooo, now I stop several inches short of the end and don’t worry about it.  I take those ends and toss ‘em into a pot of cold water until I’ve finished the batch I’m working on.
Nothing Wasted! 

  • When I’m done processing the spuds, I take those end stubs and cook them for a fresh potato dish with supper. In this case, I added a few shredded carrots and some leftover raw cabbage.
Save a Step 

As you may already know, blanching potatoes requires several steps:

  • Slice them
  • Blanch in boiling water for about three minutes
  • Plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process
  • Spin them to get most of the water off
  • Place in the dehydrator
Originally, after blanching I would place them in a bowl and transfer them to the cold-water bath. Then I would drain them and place in salad spinner. 

  • It’s much easier to simply place them directly into the salad spinner insert, which you plunge into the cold water bath. Pull the out of the water and directly into the spinner. Saves a step, and a bit of fumbling and fussing.



  1. So glad to be receiving emails from you again - missed you <3
    Dawn Fedyck/FB

    1. Hi Dawn,
      Thanks so much for the encouragement. I'm excited to be back in the loop again. It's been a long, hard pull back to recovery. I've got several more posts pending on dehydrating potatoes, plus a few more things up and comming.

  2. Linda, I have you on my blog list and I nominated you for the Liebster Award, post is here: http://www.shoestringmanor.com/2013/03/ive-been-nominated.html

    1. Aggie, thank you so much! This is quite an honor. Plus, I had no idea that site existed. Very interesting and content close to my own frugal heart!

      (I would have responded sooner, but internet got a bit garbled)

  3. Linda, I'm so glad to hear you're feeling better. :) I very much enjoyed your class in February and so missed being able to do your follow up class that was scheduled for March 16th....maybe next time. ;)Thanks for all your posts, I'm learning so much from you! :)My favorite so far is the 'plops'. I've used applesauce as my base and have added all sorts of other fruits to it but my favorite by far is cranberries! YUM!! And that is thanks to you as had it not been for your cranberry sauce plops that you shared w/ us I probly wouldn't have thought to use cranberries. lol I'm wondering if you can share w/ me what type of vacuum seal bags you use and where to find them? I wanna keep my dried foods fresh for as long as possible!

    1. HI Sabrina, I am positively THRILLED when one of my students actually follows up and checks over my blogspot. Thanks so much for the compliments!

      Yes, the plops are fantastic and easy. My hubby just ordered a 30 pound box of apples from Bountiful Basket. I think they worked out to be about .30 per pound and are juicy and delicious. He has put in a request for applesauce plops. I think I'll start them tomorrow night.

      I'm going to slice parts of them on the mandolin slicer then toss the rest in a pot to simmer. Then I will run them through my puree machine. You can find instructions on how to do this and make your applesauce from scratch. Much easier than you might think.

      I was disappointed that we didn't have enough to make the class, but I"m hopeful that later in the year we can do it. In the mean time, just keep checking, you'll find a variety of recipe suggestions for casseroles and such on this blogspot.

      I don't have internet at home, but when I get home I'll get the info on ordering the bags for you. Will answer back in a couple of days.