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Dec 13, 2003 02:56 PM

best potatoes for latkes

  • s

I'm in charge of making latkes this year and I've seen a lot of conflicting info on which potatoes are best.

Most seem to say that a high-starch potato like a russet is the way to go. Other recipes call for a medium starch potato like yukon gold, but require that a bit of potato starch be added back in....

I think my mom always just used everyday "idaho potatoes," but was very careful to submerge them in water, then rinse them, drain them, and wring them out in a towel.

But after reading up on this online, of course now I'm confused and my mom is on a cruise for the next two weeks and will be incommunicado! It's funny how the simple things like latkes, waffles, french fries, etc. can be the hardest to get just right. I guess that's the burden one must bear when making "comfort food."

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  1. I have always had the best luck with russet idahos.

    I peel them and put them in acidulated water. Then I dry them and grate them into a colander. I alternate grating the potatoes and onions, since I read that this helps to keep the potatoes from changing color. Then I squeeze out as much of the liquid from the potatoes as I possibly can. I then add back the starch that collected in the bottom of the bowl under the colander.

    I also add a crushed vitamin C tablet to the grated potatoes to keep them from turning brown.

    13 Replies
    1. re: ruth arcone

      I also use russets (what's best for french fries should be best for latkes) and pretty much follow your technique, though the Vitamin C tab was new to me. Does it add any flavor -- like sourness?

      Mine have been much better since I learned about squeezing out the water. This is the key.

      1. re: sbp

        Latkes are one of my favorite foods and I make them all the time. I use whichever I have around-yukons or russets-and they are delicious with both. Really, I would say you can't go wrong. I also squeeze the liquid out with a towel. Something else that is nice is to use some green onions as well as yellow-it gives it a little bit of freshness.

        I don't have any problem with discoloration, btw-that seems odd that a poster has to use acidulated water, plus a vit c tablet (doesn't this make it taste funky?). I usually do use a cuisinart for grating (first for shredding, then putting half the potatoes back in to pulse really quickly with the blade so the shreds aren't all really long), but even when I grate by hand I don't get that discoloration.

        1. re: Kiliki

          In a related topic, my wife and I are having a 'heated' discussion about the preparation of the Latkes in advance.

          I am a purist and cannot in clear conscience do them a day or two ahead of time. She objects to the 'smelling of the house' and the time it takes me to make them, wanting me available for more mundane tasks in preparing for our guests.

          She tells me that she heard if you freeze them, and then heat them in the oven (going in frozen), that they still come out crisp!

          I'm not a believer and just can't get past the idea of freezing latkes!!

          Anyone have any experience(s) along these lines???

          1. re: LesThePress

            I've done that for myself, but I wouldn't do it for guests. They DON'T get as crispy, and once you refrigerate or freeze them, they have a slightly off taste...fine for my quick weekday breakfast, but not for a gathering.

            1. re: Kiliki

              I knew it!!! Thanks for the confirmation!!!

            2. re: LesThePress
              Marion Morgenthal

              If you want to reheat them and have them really crispy, you can lightly fry the first time and then reheat by frying again (similar to double frying french fries). They are a lot easier to handle than batter and come out of the pan much more quickly when refried than when done originally.

              1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                What a great idea! Gotta try it!! Thanks.

              2. re: LesThePress

                My wife agrees with your wife about the 'smelling up the house from frying' situation.

                I don't like the way reheated latkes taste or feel, so a few years ago, I started frying them om the side burner on my gas Weber BBQ outside on the kitchen patio. It solved the problem.

                BTW, no I'm not in the sunny south, but in New England but grill outside year round.

            3. re: sbp

              When I make latkes I make them in large quantities (for 25 or more people at a time) so I use the acidulated water to hold the potatoes until they are all peeled. The vitamin C is added to the grated potatoes (I would use less for a smaller amount of potatoes) to prevent them from changing color as I grate them, since grating exposes more surface area that hadn't already been protected by the lemon juice. I do not notice any difference in flavor with the vitamin C, but it may not be necessary if you are only doing a normal size recipe.

              1. re: ruth arcone

                My mother used to use a commercial product which kept the potatoes pure white.
                I think it was called "staflex".
                Would anyone know if it is still around?
                If not, I am going to buy some vitamin C and try it.
                Thanks for the tip.

                1. re: erley

                  Fruit Fresh in the canning section in the grocery will do the same thing.

                  1. re: Candy

                    I learn something every day.
                    To-morrow it is at the top of the list along with russet potatoes.
                    I always used Idaho's.

                    1. re: erley

                      Idaho potatoes are generally russets.

          2. Sweet potato latkes, while perhaps not traditional, are tasty, have excellent texture, and can be spiced if you like, with curry or ginger. Serve with the usual accompaniments.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Maja
              Marion Morgenthal

              I did a trial run of sweet potato latkes yesterday--and was underwhelmed by how they turned out. What do you put in them? Same as with white potatoes, or do you add other ingredients? Thanks.

            2. The best latke tip I ever got was to put the shredded potatoes and onion in a salad spinner and spin it to remove the water. Fast, no mess, and the starch is easy to retrieve from water. I will have to try the discoloration prevention tips - my family knows my blue latkes well.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Lizzie456

                If you squeeze out the potatoes and onions in cheesecloth and keep them in there until you add the eggs, they don't discolor.

                1. re: Lizzie456

                  Blue latke complaints, the best retort: That's the last time I'll spend $3.99 for a 24 ounce bag of purple potatoes! What do you know about varieties??????????????