Few things smell as terrible as a potato that has gone bad in your pantry. Aside from the waste of food, there are many reasons you probably want to store potatoes for long-term freshness.
Many people are under the impression that you can’t freeze potatoes without them going black and mushy. That is a myth.
Can you freeze whole potatoes? Yes, you can even freeze potatoes whole. If frozen carefully, they will retain all or most of their nutrition, flavor, and texture. Results are best when whole potatoes are either blanched or cooked before freezing, and will last up to 1 year in the freezer with these methods.
If potatoes are frozen improperly, yes, they will likely turn black, taste funny, and have a very odd texture when they’re thawed, but there are many ways you can freeze potatoes so that they will withstand the freezing process.
In this article, we’ll explain multiple ways you can freeze whole potatoes, both raw and cooked, large or small. As long as you follow these guidelines, you’ll never waste a potato again.
Can You Freeze Raw Potatoes?
Yes, you can freeze raw potatoes, but you have to be very careful about it. Potatoes have a very high water content so, if you try to freeze them raw, every individual drop of water will turn into a tiny crystal of ice.
When the potato is thawed, that ice will melt and the structure of the potato will be broken down considerably, leaving you with a mushy, not mashed, potato. This is not ideal.
Compounding this high water content is the enzyme activity that can cause a vegetable to lose flavor, texture, and color over time.
Simple freezing does not stop this enzyme, so if you want to protect the quality of your potatoes as much as possible, you have to stop this enzyme activity before you freeze them.
You can either blanch raw potatoes or freeze potatoes after they’ve been cooked and cooled. In both instances, you create protection from ice crystals ruining your potatoes.
If you choose to freeze completely raw potatoes, it is best not to freeze them whole, but rather to cut them into small, bite-sized pieces and use an acid to protect them instead of blanching. You could rinse them with white vinegar or use some citric acid.
How to Freeze Whole Potatoes
Freezing potatoes whole is possible, but again it requires preparation. If you want to freeze potatoes whole, you’ll find that size matters a lot.
If you have small potatoes, such as new potatoes or baby potatoes, you have more choices. They are small enough that blanching will be relatively effective at preserving the texture. You can also boil, bake or roast them before freezing for near-perfect quality.
Larger baking potatoes will not freeze well raw. Because of their size, the blanching will not penetrate to the core of the potato, which means freezing a large potato raw will severely compromise the texture. If you mash it, you may not notice it, but it is not advisable.
Instead, if you want to freeze a large potato whole, you’d be much better off cooking it first.
In the following sections, we’ll outline all your options for freezing potatoes whole and the steps to take for the most reliable quality.
How to Blanch Potatoes Whole
Blanching will only work on small vegetables because the heat needs to penetrate through the vegetable to stop the enzymes that compromise the quality of the food during freezing. As such, it is only effective on pieces of potatoes or small, baby or new potatoes.
If you want to freeze large potatoes whole, skip ahead to the section on freezing cooked potatoes.
To blanch baby potatoes, follow these simple steps:
- Wash or peel your small potatoes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water and have it ready.
- Place your baby potatoes in the water and boil for 5 minutes.
- Using a larger strainer spoon, transfer your potatoes to the bowl with ice water and let them cool for 5 minutes.
- Spread your now-cold potatoes to a clean kitchen towel or spread of paper towels and let your potatoes air dry thoroughly.
How to Freeze Blanched Potatoes
Once your baby potatoes are blanched, cooled and completely dry, they are ready to freeze.
Transfer your potatoes to a freezer-safe, dated and labeled freezer bag, making sure it is full, but that your potatoes are in a single layer when the bag is lying flat. You don’t want your potatoes to crush each other.
Press out as much air from the bag as possible without crushing your potatoes. Place the full, carefully sealed freezer bag on a flat surface like a baking sheet and move to your freezer.
Make sure that the potatoes are not disturbed or squished until they are completely frozen. Once they’re solid, you can remove the baking tray and store however is most convenient.
You should never freeze potatoes more than once, so when you’re ready to use them, take out only as many as you need, leaving the rest frozen and re-sealed in their bag.
Freezing Cooked Potatoes Whole
Cooked potatoes will freeze quite well even if they’re whole, because their enzymes that degrade the color, texture, and flavor of the potatoes have been stopped completely. There are still a few rules you should obey if you want the texture to be retained after thawing.
How to Bake Potatoes for Freezing
If you know you are going to be baking your potatoes with the express purpose of freezing them, the best technique is to bake or roast them until they are approximately 80% cooked.
If you normally bake your potatoes for 1 hour, try baking them only for 45 minutes instead. This way, when you reheat them, you will not be overcooking them but finishing them.
You can also boil your potatoes for freezing if you prefer. The same recommendations stand – boil them until they are approximately 80% cooked.
Once your potatoes are cooked, spread them out over a baking sheet in a single layer to cool. You want to allow them to cool naturally at room temperature because, as they do, they release more water. This helps to protect their texture quality while freezing.
How to Freeze Cooked Potatoes
Once your potatoes are completely cooled, you should notice that they feel hard or tight. This is because they have dried out a bit naturally, and they will freeze nicely like this.
When you freeze your potatoes, you can choose one of two methods.
Method 1: Batch Freezing
- Transfer your cooled potatoes to a dated and labeled freezer-safe bag.
- Make sure each potato is laying flat and is not overlapping any others and that your bag can seal tightly.
- Lay your bag flat on the counter and press out as much air as possible as you seal the bag.
- Transfer the bag with your potatoes to the freezer and make sure they are laying relatively flat, at least until they’re thoroughly frozen.
Method 2: Individual Potatoes
- Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil.
- Make sure there are no holes or places where air or moisture can seep through the foil.
- If you’d like to be extra cautious, double-wrap your potato.
- With a felt pen, write the date on the foil.
- Freeze all your individual potatoes either in a large bag to keep them together or a freezer-safe Tupperware container.
How Long Do Frozen Potatoes Last?
Potatoes, if properly prepared and frozen, will stay fresh and safe in your freezer for up to 1 year.
If you have frozen multiple whole potatoes together in a single bag, it’s a good idea to check the bag every month or so to make sure no moisture or air has entered the bag. If you see ice crystals forming inside your bag, use the potatoes right away to enjoy the best quality.
Why Do Potatoes Turn Black?
If you’ve ever peeled a potato before you know how quickly they can turn black. This is because they have an enzyme, as do apples, bananas, and a few other fruits, that reacts when it is exposed to oxygen and turns dark.
The discoloration doesn’t change the flavor or texture, but it does make your potatoes look unsightly.
To stop this from happening, you can transfer your peeled or cut potatoes to a bowl of cool or cold water until you’re ready to cook them. This way, the flesh of your potato won’t be exposed to oxygen and therefore won’t react.
Can I Freeze Sweet Potatoes?
Yes, you can. Most sweet potatoes are quite large, so they should either be cut into small pieces and blanched before freezing, or completely cooked and prepared as suggested for whole potatoes above.
How To Freeze Potatoes For Chips/French Fries?
The best way to freeze potatoes for chips or French fries is to chop up all your potatoes and blanch them, as previously described in this article.
Because the pieces will be smaller, the blanching process won’t take as long. Remove your potatoes from the boiling water after 3 minutes and let them soak in an ice bath for an additional 3 minutes.
Once your chip or fry pieces have been blanched, allow them to dry thoroughly. You can pat them dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel if you’re in a hurry.
Spread the pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the entire tray in a safe place in your freezer until the pieces are individually frozen. This will help make sure they don’t stick together.
Once they’re completely frozen you can transfer the pieces to a single, freezer-safe bag.