French fries: we all love them. They’re salty, crispy, and just plain delicious.
But sometimes, homemade french fries can turn out soggy, limp, and greasy. No one wants that!
So how do you ensure your fries are crispy and perfect every time?
The secret to crispy french fries is to soak the potatoes in water before frying. In this guide, we will reveal just about everything on this topic so you can make the best french fries at home!
The Purpose of Soaking Potatoes
Have you ever wondered why restaurant french fries are always so crispy, while your homemade ones tend to be soggy?
The secret is in soaking the potatoes before frying them!
Soaking potatoes in water helps to remove excess starch from the potatoes. This is important because too much starch will result in soggy, greasy fries. That’s typically a result of the potatoes taking in too much oil during the frying process.
So, if you want your fries to be crispier, and less greasy, then soaking them in water is the way to go. But that’s not all.
Make sure you use the correct potato variety when making french fries to ensure they come out crispy and not soggy. See this article to learn more about choosing the best potatoes for crispy french fries.
Additional Reasons to Soak Potatoes Before Frying
If you’re still not convinced that soaking potatoes before frying them is worth it, then here are additional benefits of soaking potatoes:
1. Even and Consistent Frying
When you soak potatoes in water, their surface becomes smoother and less sticky. This allows the hot oil to evenly coat the potatoes when frying, resulting in more even cooking and less sticking to the pan.
2. Less Sticking Together
If you’ve ever tried to fry lots of potatoes at the same time without soaking them first, then you know that potatoes have a tendency to stick together.
Soaking the potatoes beforehand will help to prevent them from sticking together when frying.
3. Short on time? Not a problem
Soaking potatoes allows for faster cooking. That’s because the potato slices won’t have excess water.
Consequently, this will result in less steaming and more frying.
How To Soak Potatoes for Frying
So now that we know all the benefits of soaking potatoes before frying them, let’s take a look at how to do it.
The process is actually quite simple. All you need is some water and a large bowl or container.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Start by scrubbing the potatoes under cool water to remove any dirt or debris. You can leave the skin on or peel it off, depending on your preference.
- Cut the potatoes into thin slices, about 1/4-inch thick. If you’re making french fries, then cut them into fry-sized pieces.
- Place the potato slices in a large bowl or container.
- Add two tablespoons of salt to cold water (Optional)
- Cover the potatoes with cold water. Make sure the potatoes are completely submerged.
- Let the potatoes soak for about 15-30 minutes, or up to overnight in the refrigerator. (If soaking the potatoes for more than 1 hour then do not add salt to the water).
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Place the potatoes on a clean, lint-free towel. Pat them dry to remove any excess water.
- Your potatoes are now ready to be fried!
There are some chefs who recommend the double soaking method. This means that you peel then soak whole potatoes for approximately 8 hours.
You would then drain and rinse them before cutting them into thin slices. After that, you would soak the potato slices in cold water for another 8 hours.
While this method may result in even crispier fries, it is quite time-consuming. So, we recommend sticking to the single soaking method unless you have the time to do the double soak.
Make sure to never wash your potatoes with soap as this can leave soap residue on the potatoes which will create an unpleasant taste.
How Long to Soak Potatoes in Water
The general rule is to soak the potatoes for about 15 to 30 minutes, preferably in salt water. If you plan on soaking the potatoes for more than 1 hour then use regular unsalted water.
Saltwater will draw excess moisture out of the potatoes which can become detrimental when soaking potatoes in salt water for too long. As a result, the potato slices will become bendy. This will do more harm than good to your crispy fry dreams.
When soaking your potatoes for up to 24 hours, use regular water, and place them in the refrigerator (source). Do NOT soak your sliced potatoes for more than 24 hours.
Can you soak potatoes in water TOO long?
Yes, it is possible to soak your potatoes for too long.
We don’t recommend soaking the potato slices for more than 24 hours as they will lose their structure and flavor. Not to mention, the potato pieces will lose most of the water-soluble nutrients, including vitamins B and C.
It’s especially crucial to avoid soaking potato slices in salt water for too long as this will make them lose water excessively. Consequently, the potato slices will be overly crispy on the outside and dry on the inside.
You can, however, counter this by soaking them in regular water for a few minutes so that they can regain their turgidity before frying them.
Should you soak potatoes in salt water before frying?
Soaking potatoes in salt water is beneficial as it will help to draw out excess moisture from the potato slices. That way, the potatoes will be crispier and less greasy. We recommend adding two tablespoons of salt to cold water and soaking the potato slices for about 15 to 30 minutes.
In addition, soaking potatoes in salt water helps to reduce the acrylamide content. Acrylamide is a carcinogenic compound that forms when starchy foods are cooked at high temperatures. So, by soaking the potatoes in salt water, you are even making them healthier!
Keep in mind that you can soak potatoes that have been previously soaked for up to 24 hours in salt water for about 30 minutes. That will help them to lose any excess water before frying.
Does salt water keep potatoes from turning brown?
Yes, salted water does help to keep potatoes from turning brown.
When potatoes are cut, their cells are exposed to oxygen which begins the process of oxidation. Oxidation causes the potatoes to turn brown. By soaking the potatoes in salt water, you are essentially delaying the process of oxidation.
It’s important to note, however, that salt water will not prevent the potatoes from turning brown entirely. Over time, they will still eventually turn brown. Still, you can store the potatoes in the fridge to increase the number of hours that it takes for them to turn brown.
So there you have it! Soaking potatoes before frying is a great way to ensure that your fries are crispy and less greasy. We recommend soaking the potato slices for about 15 to 30 minutes in salt water.
Alternatively, you can soak the potatoes using normal water and place them in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Make sure to pat the potato slices dry before frying them to reduce the amount of splattering that occurs.
Enjoy your delicious and healthy fries!