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Potatoes in various preparations - rinse or no?

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Ok, explain potato starch to me. Recipes and opinions are all over the map.

French fries -- some rinse, some don't.

Hash browns -- most seem to rinse.

Latkes -- some rinse, some don't.

I've seen people argue that rinsing makes a crispier product, but that doesn't make sense to me. If that's true, why do we coat stuff in corn starch before deep frying?

So, can someone give me a good answer -- How does potato starch affect various preparations? What are the tradeoffs of rinsing vs. not rinsing? And most importantly -- why?

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  1. This isn't very helpful, but most "baker" potatoes I've seen NEED a good cleaning before you can do anything else with them. I have never seen as much dirt at the bottom of the sink than when I scrubbed and peeled an entire bag of Idaho potatoes the first time. I'd be terrified NOT to rinse them off before cooking.

    Maybe rinsing depends on the variety... red potatoes, for example, are best refrigerated before cooking, and don't really seem to need much prep work beforehand.

    Edit: Uh, do you mean rinsing AFTER you've peeled them, or just rinsing/cleaning in general? Brain. Not. Plugged. In.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Diamond

      I think OP is talking about peeled ones but.... I've never washed a russet before baking. We bake them between 425 and 450. What terrifies you that could live through that kind of heat? And I don't refrigerate red potatoes before cooking. I've never refrigerated any uncooked potatoes. Why would one?

      1. re: c oliver

        I rinse russets more to remove loose dirt than as a way to sterlize it of germs or bacteria.

        Red potatoes ... dunno nothin' about refrigerating them before cooking.

        1. re: c oliver

          Right, I'm talked about peeled potatoes. I don't really care about dirt on the skin.

          I'm specifically interested in the three preparations above -- french fries, latkes, and hash browns.

          But I'm really just interested in how potato starch affects various cooking procedures.

          1. re: jeremyn

            This is interesting as I never thought anything of it. When I make french fries, I actually cut and then throw them into ice water, dry and then fry them. I don't know why; I followed someone's recipe and it worked, so I kept doing them that way. For latkes, I don't think Streits counts:-)

            1. re: susanpmccoy

              That seems pretty common. People find a recipe and follow it -- and everyone does it differently, but nobody ever thinks about why. Hopefully we get an answer!

          2. re: c oliver

            This is old, I know, but I'd just always seen my parents and grandparents refrigerate their reds growing up, so I followed suit.

        2. Peeled. No rinse.

          Unpeeled. Rinse.