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Homemade Potato Chips: to soak or not to soak?

Hi Chowhounders,

I'm frying up some potato chips for a crowd, and wondering whether to soak the potatoes before frying? Some recipes say yes, some say no. I'm using Russets, and am using my sweet mandoline to make thin waffle cuts... thanks for any and all advice!

-Erin

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  1. soaking will give you crispier chips. your call. also means you can slice well in advance.

    1. I soak. The water removes the sticky starches which seems to discourage the chips from sticking together in the oil. As much as I adore homemade chips, it is an infrequent treat, and so I can not give you definitive times. But here is what I have come up with.

      I soak in cold water for a time [maybe half an hour while I prep some other veggies for the meal], then drain and place the chips on a bed of kitchen towels, and lay another towel on top. If I have planned well, I will have time to rub the potatoes dry in batches using the top kitchen towels [the bottom ones are too wet by now.]

      1. Thanks, guys! I've seen several recipes that call for soaking up to 2 hours (the Joy of Cooking recommends this)... I suppose this makes the chips even crispier?

        4 Replies
        1. re: yumyummy

          Yes it would. Lately I've taken to blanching the chips in the microwave for 2 mins or so (covered glass container, no added liquid, dry off before frying), cuts down on the time needed in the fryer.

          1. re: buttertart

            Got to disagree with buttertart. I find just rinsing in a lot of water makes a big difference compared to no rinsing or soaking at all, but soaking for and hour or two is no better than a simple rinse. If want to slice the chips hours before you want to fry them, fine, but if you are in a hurry, a short soak or simple rinse will be fine.

            1. re: Zeldog

              I soak or not depending on time available and inclination, you are basically right, it doesn't make a huge diff. My main point in that post was precooking in microwave which definitely works well for me.

              1. re: buttertart

                As a matter of fact, I plan to try that next time I make chips. I found blanching the potatoes before making french fries makes them crispier, and a dose of microwaves probably does the same thing for chips. Thank for the tip.

        2. Thanks for your help everyone! I had a frustrating experience with the chips- first, I used a waffle cut, which might have further complicated things. I soaked for about 45 minutes or so, changing the water several times, then completely dried the chips before attempting to fry them on the stove. We ended up purchasing a fry daddy, which definitely helped, but there was such a fine line between crisp and burned that I ended up using about half of the chips I made. Live and learn, I suppose, but I'm not sure exactly what I learned. Next time, if there is a next time, I'll not use the waffle slice, and perhaps fry at a lower temp?

          5 Replies
          1. re: yumyummy

            The waffle slice is probably not the problem. And lowering the temperature may not be a good idea. Maybe you overloaded the pot and the chips cooked unevenly. Keep the temperature high (not less than 350F) and make smaller batches.

            1. re: Zeldog

              To me frying anything is small batches at a good temp 350 is good, too many they crowd. Also I like to turn often with my strainer so the chips cook on all sides. I make them very rarely, in fact I use my cast iron skillet. I made them with some, soup and sandwiches I made one night. I did soak for about 1 hour and then dried well

              1. re: Zeldog

                Totally disagree, lower is better. I try to maintain a cooking time of between 4-6 minutes, which usually means 340F but sometimes lower. Also i soak in hot tap water for 15 minutes before drying and frying. This should give you a light colored but crispy potato chip.

                Good luck.

              2. re: yumyummy

                I use a Breville fryer and it's great, it doesnt use as much oil as some other ones do and it's much larger (so you don't crowd things in the fryer) plus it's excellent at maintaining the correct temperature. Pretty much everything is 350 degrees. Chips take about 12 minutes depending on the thin/thickness.

              3. Soaking or not makes less of a difference than the type of bud you are using.

                1. Has anyone had an success in blanching the night before serving? Would they keep before frying?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jdonna

                    you have to blanch them sufficiently far that they won't oxidize.

                  2. I position my mandolin right above a large bowl of ice water, keeps them from browning while I'm cutting and waiting for the oil to heat. Dry them before frying though.

                    1. If you have a friend or family member with kidney disease or on dialysis, soaking the potatoes has the additional benefit of leaching out potassium, enabling them to eat some of these delicious home-made potato chips, which they would otherwise have to pass up. http://www.davita.com/kidney-disease/...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bkrumm

                        I remember my great-aunt boiling potatoes with the lid off for my second cousin, who was afflicted, for the same reason.

                      2. Microwave them (in batches) on a plate for about a minute, blot, then fry. They absorb almost no oil.