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.
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.
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.
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.