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Jan 6, 2006 04:14 PM

Why are my mashed potatoes gummy?

  • b

Why do mashed potatoes sometimes get gummy? How long are you supposed to boil the potatoes? I read in a previous post that many folks boil them whole with the skins on. Would cutting them up (so they boil faster) cause more water to be absorbed, leading to the gummy muck I just got? I've made perfect spuds before and I'm frustrated over this sticky mess!


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  1. Over mashing/mixing of potatoes can lead to a sticky paste-like mashed potato.

    1. As the other guy said, over-mashing is the usual culprit, followed by the variety of potato. The harder you beat, the more the starch works itself into strands=gummy. DO NOT use an electric mixer, especially with varieties like Yukon Gold or white rose - use a wire hand masher, and be more concerned about gooiness that about the occasional lump. I even use a ricer now and then if I want super-fluffy spuds. "Whipped" potatoes are IMO good mostly as an industrial adhesive.

      I always peel mine and quarter them, and start'em in cold water, then cook 15 minutes or so after they come to the full boil, or until I can poke a trussing needle (or equivalent skinny sharp thing) through fairly easily. Drain, throw back in the pot and stir a couple of turns over the heat to dry out, then you're in business.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        I use my cake tester to check the doneness. Another thing, never use a food processor to "whip" your potatoes. You'll have more "grade school paste." We like the idea of "mashers" which should always have a few small lumps in them. Use the ricer when fixing twice baked potatoes.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Yes yes's essential to cook off the water first and then add your HOT milk (whole milk at the very least) and melted butter.

        2. ever tried a potato ricer? they make perfect potatoes.. IMHO

          5 Replies
          1. re: withalonge

            *******hanging head in shame******

            What's a ricer?

            1. re: shazzer65

              A ricer is an extruder-type device that you force the cooked potatoes through. Then you add your butter, your milk/cream/half and half/buttermilk/whatever, folding it gently in. Minimal processing makes for fluffy, delicious potatoes.


              1. re: LT from LF

                A ricer is the only way to go for mashed potatos. It's so gentle on the little suckers and they come out real light and fluffy. Ever since I got my first one as a teen, folks always go wild and beg for my mashed potatos.

                Sometimes I rice a potato right onto a plate and put a fat pat of butter on top and serve as is. Then they are pure fluff.

                1. re: LT from LF

                  Thanks! I have seen them before and now I know what you do with them...I will put it on my wish list...

                  1. re: LT from LF

                    A Foley food mill is similar to a ricer but is a more versatile tool to have on hand. It looks like a saucepan but the bottom is pierced and you turn a crank to push the potatoes through the holes (like a ricer) but with the food mill you can also use it to make apple sauce or a good tomato sauce and you don't have to peel them either. The skins will be caught in the top.

              2. j
                JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                One good secret... when adding dairy products, add the butter first, then milk (or half and half for extra-rich spuds). The fat coats the starch molecules and keeps the water in the milk from getting absorbed.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                  That is very key. And I prefer ricing (cook with the skins, and the skins will remain in the ricer).

                2. I was on a kick for years with Yukon Golds, then went back to Russets and what a difference. They are so much lighter I can't believe it. What potato did you use?