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Perfect mashed potatoes

So I'm still trying to work this out... I generally drain the taters, leave them in the pot, add either milk or sour cream and butter, salt & pepper, and they're all lovely and velvety -- fast forward maybe 5 minutes, and I have something more closely resembling crumbly stuff.

Why is that? Do I need to use more butter? I'm neither frugal nor excessive with butter for mashers, as it remains an important ingredient....

Am I not putting them together right? Any hints are, as always, greatly appreciated. Even more so if they come within the next 10 minutes or so '-)

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  1. The hot potatoes are absorbing the liquid. You need to add more.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lattelover

      Lattelover is right. You can reserve some cooking liquid if you don't want to use too much milk, butter or sour cream. Also, heating the liquid with butter and herbs is another good way to get flavor well integrated & distributed without too much fat or over-working the potatoes into glue.

      1. re: trentyzan

        The cooking liquid is the secret weapon.

    2. Probably needs more butter if you like them velvety, etc.

      Personally I don't - so I never add anything & just give them a good mashing.

      1. I always add melted butter before I add any dairy in order to really coat the potatoes in fat.

        1. I've found that how you mash them is really really important -- perhaps more so than what you add to them. Hand mixers turn the potatoes gummy. The standard masher will make them crumbly. I have a feeling you're using a standard masher. The best tools I've found were a food mill and a ricer. The potatoes becomes very smooth, and I find that I don't have to add as much butter or cream to make it silky. And, of course, using the right type of potato. I like the general yukon golds.

          I also wanted to add that cooking the boiling the potatoes in heavily salted water as opposed to plain water and salting them yourself makes a big difference too -- not so much as in texture but in taste.

          1. Hey -- thanks all for your suggestions. I unfortunately am already done eating... but it'll be nice for the future. I added the butter first, then some sour cream & horseradish, mashed some more (yes, standard potato masher, as I heard a ricer can make them gluey), added a tad more butter -- they once again were great for ... 5 minutes (thank Evolution we're fast eaters '-), then became kinda dry again. Bummer. Next time, new try!

            4 Replies
            1. re: linguafood

              I'd definitely try the ricer next time - that's what I use, or if I can't find it, the food mill.

              1. re: MMRuth

                another vote for the ricer or mill...and i also prefer buttermilk to sour cream. makes them more tender & creamy.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Yes, definitely a ricer. I'm surprised that you heard that a ricer can make them gluey as that has never happened to me. Perhaps if you use a ricer with cold potatoes, but not if you use them while they're hot.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I've succumbed to the ricer for mashed potatoes, too, and it makes such a difference. I find I need less butter and milk to get soft mashed potatoes and I've never noticed the cold ones getting dry and crumbly. A little stiffer, but still smooth.

                2. Anybody try the recipe in this month's ATK?

                  1. I leave some of the starchy water in when I mash. Tons of butter, then some milk, cream is better though. salt and pepper and a regular hand masher. Then, I use a wooden spoon and whip them.

                    1. What kind of potatoes are you using? The Idaho or baking potatoes will be drier and need more liquid. The red potatoes will be creamier.

                      1. Best mashed potatoes I've ever had: Cut two heads of garlic in half crosswise. Place on two small sheets of foil and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Wad up the foil into two balls and roast garlic in a 350-degree oven. While garlic is roasting, boil two and a half pounds of peeled Russets cut into uniform chunks. While potatoes are cooking, cut up one-half brick of cream cheese and one stick butter into small pieces. When fork-tender, drain potatoes well. Return to low heat to remove extra moisture from potatoes while manually mashing. Add cream cheese and butter pieces to the potatoes and add enough half and half to obtain desired consistancy. Remove garlic from oven and squeeze roasted cloves into potatoes. Mash well. OMG.......this is soooooooo good.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pilotgirl210

                          I use some of my leftover cloves from 40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken but, yes, adding roasted garlic to mashed potatoes is oh so yummy.

                          FWIW, I also add butter, olive oil and cream to my mashed potatoes. No crumblies.

                          1. re: pilotgirl210

                            i also did something similar--TEN heads of garlic, roasted, and 5-6 pounds of boiled russets. butter, cream, milk, s&p and a dollop of sour cream...i still dream of these...

                          2. Potato basics... Start with cold, salted water with your potatoes in it, instead of boiling water that you add the potatoes to. The type of potato should be starchy, not waxy. Waxy potatoes will not result in creamy, soft mash.

                            Using a ricer or food mill is definitely the way to go, if you have access. You can sort of mimic it with a colander by pressing the potatoes through with a wooden spoon, but it's quite a bit of labor, depending on how much you're doing. The starch molecules won't break the way they do when you mash them to death though, so you avoid the gumminess and get a perfect velvety texture. Potatoes made in this way with the addition of an egg yolk or two will taste creamier than hand mashed potatoes with a ton of actual cream and butter, imo... and unbelievably fantastic with.

                            1. 1. Use a yellow fleshed potato for a smoother texture or russets for a lighter texture - that's really a personal preference.

                              2. If you have a potato ricer (which I cannot recommend more highly), you don't need to peel.

                              3. Boil unpeeled potatoes or steam peeled chunks - this reduces the chance to get soggy.

                              4. Let dry before mashing.

                              5. The best mashing is through a ricer - which only presses the flesh once, thus reducing the working of the flesh. A food mill is the next best thing, but it agitates the flesh more. Next is the hand masher. Blender/food processor make for gluey texture, as they overwork the starch.

                              6. Blend in butter or other fat with a light hand.

                              7. THEN add any liquid dairy (not the other way around).

                              Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a hint of freshly grated nutmeg.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Karl S

                                Karl S noted three very key points: #4 & #6/7. One way to dry them is to drain the pot of water, then put it back on the burner - stir or shake the potatoes around until the hissing sound stops. This will just take a few moments, but makes a world of difference! This helps dry out the surplus liquid, allowing the potatoes to better absorb the butter. At this point I add a little seasoning. Making mashed potatoes is sort of similar to making a gravy in that you need to have the fat incorporated really well before you add the liquid. Having you milk, cream, etc. warm helps too. I have good luck just mashing gently with a fork while incorporating the butter. Once that is done add the heated dairy a little at a time, stirring very gently.It usually takes less liquid than you expect. Adjust final seasoning. I use cut, un-peeled baking potatoes. I vary the dairy by mood or availability. Sometimes add garlic or chives. Good luck!

                              2. Lots of butter, heavy whipping cream, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt = deliciousness.