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Latke mixture ahead of time?

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.