Jul 6, 2023
Hash browns can make a simple breakfast so filling and satisfying. But they do take a while to prepare and don’t store long. Also, you can only get them when camping if you prepare them on the campsite. If you enjoy it that way, that’s totally fine. But wouldn’t it be better to bring it with you and then fry it when needed? Here’s how to freeze-dry hash browns so you have shelf-stable food ready whenever you are.
There are two types of potatoes: waxy and mealy or starchy.
If you want hash browns that hold their shape, go with the waxy ones because they have a solid, dense texture. They stick together when you cook them and hold their shape better. Examples of these are the round potatoes like:
But if you want that crispy texture, mealy or starchy ones would be just the thing. Examples of these are Russets and Idaho. Many professional chefs and cooks suggest starchy potatoes if you want that crispy texture every time. Typical examples are:
If you want to have the best of both worlds, go for Yukon Gold potatoes. They have a balance of waxy and starchy qualities, making them easy to work with.
Clean the potatoes thoroughly to remove all the dirt from the skin. Use a vegetable brush to make sure you remove all the soil. You can peel the potatoes or not, it’s okay. But if you want to make your hash browns healthier, keep the skin.
How do you like your hash browns, shredded or cubed? The good thing about freeze-drying is that you can do whatever you want. However, cubed hash browns take longer to reconstitute. To make your life easier, we’ll go for the shredded ones.
Potatoes are notorious for browning. There were those who freeze-dried raw ones and they end up with a gray, unappetizing product. To give you the best results, we recommend pre-baking or blanching.
You can pre-bake your potatoes to shorten your cooking time. Once you got your spuds clean, use the tines of the fork to make several holes. Do as many as you can to help the steam to come out. The holes will also prevent your vegetable from exploding.
Bake the potatoes at 357 °F (190 °C) for 50-60 minutes, depending on the size. When done, let them cool to room temperature, then cool them in the fridge for 8 hours. The cooler they are, the easier they will be to work with.
You can use your hand shredder, but that can be time-consuming. Especially if you have a ton of spuds to process. Use your food processor with a large shredder attachment to speed things up.
Blanching gives a crisp, solid edge that makes the hash browns look appetizing to eat. Unlike baking, you can start by shredding the potatoes first. Put the shredded vegetable in water to prevent them from browning. You’re going to work on batches with this one because you have to make sure that they don’t overcook.
Once you have a batch ready, blanch the shredded potatoes in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Then dump them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Once they’re totally cool, set them aside to dry on clean kitchen towels.
Do the same for the rest of the shredded potatoes. Make sure you change the water when it gets too murky or starchy.
If you want to make things more convenient, you can use frozen hash brown patties. However, these contain oil which can shorten the shelf-life.
You only need to do the following to freeze-dry hash browns using your Harvest Right freeze dryer.
Freeze-drying hash browns can take 27-35 hours, depending on how much you’re freeze-drying. Other factors include:
Storing is easy, and you can use Mason jars or Mylar bags. Mason jars are good for on-demand use. Mylar bags are great for long-term storage and traveling.
Before sealing, add 1-2 bags of 300cc oxygen absorbers. These will take out oxygen that causes food spoilage.
Reconstituting freeze-dried hash browns is easy don’t require much liquid.
If you’re working with shredded ones, put them in a bowl of water. Then gradually add warm water, a little bit at a time, until all the pieces are moist but not wet. Cover the bowl and let it sit for a couple of minutes to let the pieces absorb all that moisture.
The process is more straightforward if you’re working with freeze-dried hash brown patties. Just add a bit of water until the patties have the consistency of a moist sponge. You don’t need a lot, and the patties will absorb the water as you pour. Once the patties are moist, cover them and let them sit for 20 minutes.
How much water you add to reconstitute the freeze-dried hash browns can certainly affect the texture. You can add more if you want a soft center. But if you want a crisp texture, go for less. It may take up quite a bit of experimentation, but don’t let it get to you. Eventually, you’ll get the right amount of moisture you need to your preference.
You could start with 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup of water for a cup of shredded hash browns. Or 1/8 of a cup of water per patty. Then fry a small amount and see if the moisture’s enough or lacking. It’s easier to work with a dry material than with a soaking wet one.
Freeze-dried hash browns can last for 25-30 years. However, hash-brown patties bought from the store can only last for 5-10 years because of the oil.
Put the containers in a cool, dark, dry place to ensure your food lasts that long. The room temperature should be lower than 72°F (22 °C). Relative humidity should also be 15% or less.
Freeze-drying hash browns can make cooking your favorite comfort food easier and faster. What’s more, you have food that’s shelf stable. You don’t have to worry about freezer burn. Most especially, you can get that crispy texture with lesser cooking time. You can’t even tell the difference after cooking it.
Do you want to start from scratch or freeze-dry hash brown patties instead? Let us know in the comment section.
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