Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to Dehydrate Potatoes

A few weeks ago, 10 pound bags of potatoes went on sale for a buck. We stocked up and they have been living in The Hole. Now that Jules is in Georgia (hi Honey!), I can dehydrate them without worry about the kitchen being a total mess for two days.

One bag down, 3 more to go!

Dehydrated potatoes are a staple of our backpacking. If they are thoroughly dried without any blemishes they will last easily a year. We use them to make mash potatoes that actually taste like and contain some kind of food product.

You can do a lot with mashed potatoes and you don't get sick of it like you can pasta. We top them with dehydrated salsa, dried garlic and chives, and cheese. We smother them in dehydrated hamburger gravy. They go great in dehydrated lentil soup. I like them covered in ketchup, but Jules thinks that is rather disgusting. He is crazy.

Since the potatoes are already cooked, they are a simple food to rehydrate and eat. They also contain valuable potassium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. There are some carotenoids stuck in there too.

The best part is the carbohydrates which they contain. The bulk of the carbohydrates are in starch. After cooking and cooling (which is what you do when you dehydrate them) the resistant starch increases to 13%. Resistant starch is not broken down by the small intestine, but the large intestine. This provides significant fiber, is a great way to increase glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol (the bad stuff) along with triglyceride concentrations, and reduces fat storage. Basically, they make you feel full and are full of good stuff. More of those sneaky vegetables I'm so fond of.

The only negative reconstituted potatoes have, as far a long distance backpacking goes, is the reduction in fat storage. This can become a problem when you are burning far more calories per day than you are physically able to consume. By the later part of his thru-hike on the AT, Jules was eating an combination of straight butter, peanut butter and half and half. It tasted terrible, but it kept him from passing out from too little body fat. We have to monitor this carefully with The Barracuda when we really start putting on the miles. He is big enough now to be able to communicate how he feels; however, giving us enough warning to be able to do something is another story.
Jules on the AT. I think he's about half way at this point. By the end those bike shorts were over the top of tights and still baggy. Isn't he a cutie! He was 17. He's never going to let me stay home alone again.

The standard way to dehydrate potatoes removes most of their nutrient content. We now bake the potatoes, allow them to cool, peel, slice and dehydrate. By keeping the skins on while cooking and not boiling them, the nutrients are mostly preserved. It also greatly cuts down on dehydration time since the aren't waterlogged.

Wash and cut off any bad spots. Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. You're not looking for mushy, I-want-to-eat-it potatoes just slightly soft ones. You want cooked, but still firm.

Remember to stab the potatoes with a fork a few times or they can explode. Exploding potatoes are really cool science for kids about pressure and the atomic bomb, but really messy when trying to dehydrate.

Allow potatoes to completely cool. It is this cooling process which converts the sugars to resistant starch. It is like back stocking the nutrients. As they cool their skins will start to buckle and bubble up. They can then be peeled just like pumpkins.

Slice potatoes as close to 1/8th of an inch thick as you can get them. Lay them out in the dehydrator.

Dehydrate at approximately 130 degrees for 6-12 hours. They take forever, but they don't smell badly and can be done indoors. They will be crisp and translucent when done. Think, mini-Frisbee. If they aren't completely dry, they rot in less than 3 months and get stinky. A flip or two helps them dry faster.

How much you get per bag really depends on the bag, but it seems like I get about 3 quart containers from the 10 pounds.

To reconstitute, soak for a 1/2 hour and then cook in the same water. Cooking water can then be reserved in order to make gravy.

8 thoughts:

Mel said...

When I was a wilderness ranger I ate dried potatoes almost everyday--those cheap store bought ones. (I was young and poor). These look like a much better option.

Granola Girl said...

I have found memories of a lot of "hot dog soup" when I was young and poor. Somehow I don't think it would taste nearly as good now :)

YohonP said...

Thanks! This will come in handy for my thru! And I just got a dehydrator for Xmas - something else to practice on :-D

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

How would you go about cutting them into slices or "shreds" like julianne potatoes/ I am not a big fan of mashed but I do like au gratin and julianne.

Granola Girl said...

Sorry it took a bit for me to get back to you, I had to do a little trial-and-error to make sure this would work.

If you want sliced potatoes preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Take the raw potato and slice it somewhere between a 1/4 and 1/8th of an inch thick. It doesn't have to be perfect. If you want the skins removed, just peel the potato first.

Lay the slices on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes, flip them over and bake again for about 10 minutes. The slices can be touching, but probably shouldn't overlap much.

Once baked, dehydrate them at 135-145 degrees for about 6 hours or until they are brittle little frizbee/hockey puck things.

By baking the slices they are precooked and then rehydrate really fast, but they don't tend to mush up like when you fully bake the whole potato. You can try cutting them into slices and then slicing up the slices into long sticks about 1/2 inch wide and bake those, but it might just be a lot of work for an output that doesn't matter so much.

I hope this helps. Feel free to email me if that didn't make enough sense. :)

Granola.Girl AT rocketmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

This is so awesome! One question - since I usually eat my potatoes with the skins, is it really necessary to peel them? Sorry if it's a crazy one - I have no experience dehydrating foods yet, this will be my first experiment!
Heather Darnell

Granola Girl said...

@ Heather ~ You can totally dehydrate these with the skins on. That makes them even better for you actually. However, when you rehydrate them the skins might fall off. We have found that when we rehydrate (we just boil them on super high for about 5-10 minutes if we are backpacking and don't let them soak) the potatoes tend to fall all apart.

You might be a bit crazy for leaving the skins on, but Jules tells me I'm a total freak for not liking to mix any of my food. I like it to be layered like lasagna. Personally, I think it is kinda cool to find out how everyone else is weird :)

Dicentra said...

This is awesome!!

I just posted your link on One Pan Wonders for my Tater Tuesday.

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