What I Learned About Latkes This Year
- desert rat
I've made latkes for more years than I care to admit and have made discoveries over the years. Here's another one that seems so simple, I wonder why I haven't heard or read of it somewhere. Prevent the grated potatoes from browning using Fruit Fresh!
Grated potatos turn brown quickly. Some people wish they didn't.I learned this summer during a home canning project that the browning of apples and potatoes is due to oxidation. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and that's why lemon juice on apples slows down or prevents browning. Home canners use Fruit Fresh (which is vitamin C) to keep apples from browning while waiting to be processed. I used it on apples while making an apple crisp and the apples stay light and look prettier even after baking.
So last night I sprinkled some Fruit Fresh on the grated potatoes! And...it worked! The batter stayed light and white and the pancakes were light inside after cooking. I made a 4-potato batch and sprinkled maybe 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon on the grated potatoes and thoroughly mixed it in using a fork. No difference in taste!
Grated onion also slows the browning. My recipe (from Cooks Illustrated) calls for them to be grated together.
I put the just-grated potatoes in a large bowl of cold water and wash the surface starch off. Then drain well, and combine grated onion and other ingredients. They stay white and washing off the starch seems to make them crisper and less greasy. In my pre-wash days, they did turn a gross bluish-gray.
I do the coarsely grated style latke (like pancakes crossed with hash browns), not the cakier finely grated style, where this method might not be suitable.
I started adding a crushed Vitamin C tablet to the grated potatoes for my latkes a few years ago after reading it somewhere. It made sense for the same reasons you mentioned, and it works.