Friday, November 6, 2009

Spud dud

It all started out so promisingly. A passing reference on the Food Network to the properties of frozen foods, a mention of the poor freezing qualities of certain veggies, the suggestion of using this to advantage...

Science experiments look great on paper. In the lab, however, it's every person for herself.

I should explain.

Freezing foods preserves them, but sometimes at a price. Ice crystals are sharp and jagged and poke holes in cell walls, breaking down structure and releasing liquid. This is why strawberries, once thawed, will always be sort of limp. For cooked foods, this has already happened through another process so it's not noticeable.

Baked potatoes are great. Mashed potatoes are great. But what if you could create both at once without the time and hassle of making "twice baked"? (this is probably my favorite potato prep, btw)

If I take a raw potato, scrub it well, then freeze it solid...

then defrost it...

then bake it...

will I get a lovely outer crust and mashed inside? Will it be the perfect food?

Um, no. In the defrosting, the potato sheds copious amounts of much-needed moisture. For some reason, the moisture is dark brown and creepy. It soaks the paper towels and drips all over my counter before I get smart and put them in a tupperware. However, touching the spud reveals a truly squishy potato. Already it seems like mashed potato trapped like magic in the skin. I am hopeful.

The baking takes absurdly long and the results are, well, surprising. The potato is now exponentially harder and firmer than it was before cooking. It also tastes raw. It's like my oven was a time machine instead.

What exactly went wrong? I think it was the release of all that liquid, depriving the potato of the building blocks of steam. Next time, we'll try putting them straight from freezer to oven in the hopes that this combats some of the loss of fluids.

It was such a cool idea, but a good scientist admits and publishes defeats as well as successes. I formed a hypothesis, tested it, and found that it did not hold up in this experiment. Further tweaking required.

If any of you try this and it works, let me know what you did to get it...

No comments:

Post a Comment