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Aug 21, 2007 11:31 AM

Best Potato for Pancakes and Latkes

Does anyone have an opinion on which type of potato makes a superior latke and potato pancake?

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  1. I always use Russet or Idaho potatoes. The trick to crispy latkes is to wring out the moisture from the grated potatoes (also do this for potato kugel).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Diane in Bexley

      I agree, Idaho potatoes, and a towel you plan to throw away are the secrets to great latkes . . . although why are you asking this in August? :)

      1. re: tzurriz

        There is no bad time for latkes, even in August. That's like asking why you'd want a turkey sandwich when Thanksgiving is three months away ;-)

        I do not throw towels away just because I used them for food. Hot water and detergent makes everything clean and good as new. Stains might linger, sure, but they won't hurt you.

        Oh, back on topic: yes, any good mealy potato. Waxy ones can't blend in properly - you'd need to use added starch of some sort to get the cakes to hold together.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Every time I've tried to launder the towel after making latkes, my next laundry load has come out stained and stiff. I don't use paper towels, so after a year or so I generally have a kitchen towel that needs replacing anyway. I use it one last time for the latkes, and don't feel any guilt getting rid of it and saving my washing machine.

          I was just teasing about the time of year. I think it is just the idea of standing over hot oil when it is so hot . . .

          Turkey sandwiches are always good! :)

          1. re: tzurriz

            "Every time I've tried to launder the towel after making latkes, my next laundry load has come out stained and stiff." Yes, starch will do that! Sufficient rinsing and wringing under cold water will de-starch the towel. I learned my lesson about not just throwing used kitchen cloths like this into the wash untreated when my socks and underwear came out smelling of chicken broth! The straining cloths all get washed with dish soap first now.

            My rough-duty towels are the nice cheap white cotton ones with the red stripes from IKEA. Or at least they USED to be white...

          2. re: Will Owen

            I use an old flour sack towel for that. It is gauzy enough to really wring them well and you are right. Hot water and detergent makes it clean and ready to use again.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Re: W.O.s response to Tzurriz

              I think that tzurriz asked about latkes in August because of the horrible thought of frying when it's 95 degrees outside. Horrible to me anyway.

              Otoh, I made chiles rellenos last week, but the fog had rolled in by the time I started frying.

        2. Definitely Russetts. I made them with red, new potatoes once & they did not taste nearly as good.

          1. As we recently learned from a recent thread, use a ricer to extract the moisture from the potatoes!

            1. I've never had a problem with getting the latkes crispy and I never drain the moisture from the potatoes. You don't need to. My adjustment is made by adding matzo meal. I just add matzo meal to the food processed potatoes (russets) until I'm happy with the consistency. They turn out perfect every time. In fact, I don't even peal the potatoes either.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Den

                I like to rinse and dry my potatoes and I have had success using the salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture.

                1. re: HungryRubia

                  Thanks for the replies. Anyone have any tips about cooking ahead, transporting them then re-heating?

                  1. re: jamesm

                    easy, just re-heat in a 350 oven until crispy again. they crisp up nicely.

              2. I also prefer the russet or baking potatoes others recommended. Anything mealy.
                I have a little trick that I think helps to crisp up the latkes: Grate the potatoes into a large bowl and sprinkle with just a little salt. After all are grated, squeeze out the grated potatoes with you hands and let the moisture/juice/water from the potatoes drain into a bowl. Let the moisture/juice/water rest for a few minutes, then drain off the water slowly and you will see a layer of white potato starch collect at the bottom of the bowl. Add that starch to the grated potatoes and proceed with your recipe.
                Wheat flour tends to make the latke too cakey. The potato starch adds flavor, too, and is a very frugal step passed along to my Italian family from a Jewish neighbor about 80 years ago.

                3 Replies
                1. re: DCarbonaro

                  Great tips everyone. Thanks very much. Someone told me that a secret to transporting them is to stack them vertically, side by side, rather than on top of one another. Anyone heard that before?

                  1. re: jamesm

                    I freeze them on individual cookie sheets in one layer, then pop them in plastic freezer bags or use the Food Saver. You reheat them on cookie sheets in a 400 oven for about 10-15 min in one layer, no need to defrost. I would not stack them one on top of another, the grease would accumulate and I don't imagine they would remain crispy.

                  2. re: DCarbonaro

                    I do the same thing, putting the starch back in with the grated potatoes. However, I don't salt the potatoes -- I just rinse them in a big bowl full of cold water, scooping them out onto the towl for draining, then pouring off the rinsing liquid and using the starch that's collected at the bottom of the bowl. Makes for crispier latkes, no doubt!