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Latke mixture ahead of time?

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I'm having a Hannukah party on Sunday night and was hoping to get some of the grunt work out of the way before the evening (I don't have a food processor so it will be lots and lots of grating by hand). Can I make the mixture ahead of time and then fry the latkes a few hours later? I use a mix of potatoes, onions, egg, matzah meal and flour. I don't really care if the potatoes change color. Thanks!

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  1. The risk of the potatoes changing color is the only reservation I would have with the idea as you present it. But that alone would convince me not to prepare the ingredients ahead of time. Perhaps if, after you wring out the liquid, preparing the mixture and rolling it tightly in plastic wrap for the few hours you need to hold it in the refrigerator without a lot of potato discoloration.

    1. Honestly, don't do it. Even if you rinse the potatoes well to reduce the possibility of them turning grey and even if you remove as much moisture as possible, they will almost certainly darken and the mixture will become very watery. And even if you think you don't care if they change colour - believe me, you won't like the look of them. And the excess liquid, which you will have to drain off, will make it difficult to adjust the amount of egg and whatnot you add to the mixture. You are much much better off cooking them completely and then reheating them to serve.

      There's a bit of an art to the reheating also. When you make your latkes, stand the finished latkes up vertically on their edges in a baking pan rather than stacking them in horizontal layers. This prevents them from compressing and becoming soggy. To reheat, just put the pan in a 350o oven until they're sizzling hot. Another way to reheat - but this only works for smaller numbers of latkes - is to lay them out on racks over a baking sheet to allow them to crisp on both sides.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Nyleve

        I agree that it is better to make ahead and reheat. To get them crisp, once they have heated through in the oven, you can put them on a baking sheet in a single layer under the broiler for a minute or two.

        1. re: Nyleve

          How do you get the latkes to stand up vertically? What type of baking pan? I am hoping to make around 30 latkes early Sunday and then re-heat later on.

          1. re: esyle

            Well you just sort of stack them like you would books in a box.

            Rough visual representation from the side:
            IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

            Rough visual representation from the top:
            IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
            IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
            IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

            Single layer but multiple rows.

            The size of the baking pan depends on how many latkes you'll be making. For about 30 latkes you will probably need a 9 x 13 pan. If I'm making a million, I'll use one of those large disposable foil roaster thingies. The reason for this vertical stacking is to keep the latkes from compressing under the weight of a second or third layer if making a lot of latkes. If you're doing just 30, it might be just as easy and effective to lay them out on a rack set over a baking pan to reheat. Up to you.

            1. re: Nyleve

              I did this and used standard sized loaf pans. It works well.

        2. I've been served way too many gray latkes. Even if you acidulate the batter it will turn with time.

          1. If you ever see a Borner(Boerner) potato grater, buy it. It's a rectangular beige/white plastic thing about 4x9", for a about $2. Looks like a piece of junk but it is a miracle worker for latkes. One side yields a puree/mush, the other side perfect shreds - a mix of the two makes for an ideal latke. Be careful, because although it's all plastic, the shredding edges are sharp.

            1. I agree--DO NOT make the whole latke mix ahead of time! If you must, grate the potatoes and onions together, mix in a colander suspended over a bowl, and stick in the fridge. When you're ready to fry, squeeze out as much remaining liquid as you can. Then add eggs, matzoh meal, s&p. Otherwise you'll get a black watery mess.

              1. Latkes are real "last-minute" food. If you make them ahead, they WILL turn grey and watery, and no matter how good they taste, they will look so bad that many folks will just pass them by.

                We eat first with our eyes.

                1. Can you have everything else ready and have your guests make the latkes? Otherwise, I agree -- the potatoes can't sit around. Maybe make early and freeze? I know there are frozen latkes available in the stores, but I've never had them. Any comments?
                  I'd also like to suggest that maybe not the night of your party, but at some point, you try sweet potatoes latkes! I love them. Grated sweet potatoes, chopped scallions, salt, pepper, cumin, and an egg to hold them together. They're great! or grate!

                  1. I have been making latkes ahead of time for about ten years when I have a large crowd. I make the latkes a day or even several days before the party. I complete the frying and freeze the latkes. At the time of the party I reheat them on a single layer of a cookie sheet in a very hot oven (450 degrees). It takes between 6 to 8 minutes for the latkes to become hot and crispy. (keep checking so they don't burn). They come out perfectly and you can enjoy the party!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chefphil

                      I've just been assigned "potato latkes" for our Dec. 21st Chanukah celebration. And, I plan to prepare some tomorrow, freeze them overnight, and reheat them on Sunday, as a trial.
                      I'll report in and let you know the result.

                    2. Years ago when Mom made them ahead of thime, she would but some sulphur sticks from the local drug store and stick in a potato, light it and cover the entire pot full of potatoes. They never turned grey or anything.
                      Don't know if it is still available.

                      1. I agree with above -do not grate potatoes ahead of time. maybe, what you can do is make them 1/2 potato and half zucchini, or sweet potato or something and i figure, those you can grate ahead of time. you may be able to get away with peeling the potatoes the night before and then cover with water. just a thought...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Arktik

                          ChefJune and chefphil are both right - I did the make ahead version, froze, reheat and the eat as you fry version. Each latke (if you can believe I just ate one!) was okay, but all were gray, so next batch I will put grated potatoes into ice water with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and will consider grating by hand instead of using the food processor. That's supposed to make a difference. I chopped chives instead of using onion.

                          1. re: Arktik

                            be careful of putting in water & storing overnight. It does something to the starch in the potatoes.

                            When I've done latkes before, sometimes those darned potatoes can start to turn gray in the bowl even while you are grating the next batch. There has to be a trick to doing it, other than to fully cook the atkes ahead of time. Although doing them ahead of time really would make your life easier -- it's tought to stand there frying them up a batch at a time while your guests are waiting.

                          2. Have you checked out the Chow Tips video clip about latkes?
                            Although it doesn't specifically address making the latkes ahead of time, it may help answer some of your other questions.

                            How to Make Latkes with Leslie Jonath:

                            http://www.chow.com/stories/11461

                            1. Was my mother the only one in the world who knew the secret to getting latke batter white again? Okay, world, I share it herewith....SOUR CREAM! A dollop added to a bowl of batter will turn it white again and keep it white, and make it even tastier. Will my Nobel Prize be arriving in the mail?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: orcasandrea

                                I don't know if you will win, but I will nominate you.