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Natural Cut Fries - Cost-Cutting Measure, or Do Some People Like Them?

I'm far from being a french fry snob, pretty much liking them all (though not a great fan of seasoned fries or those that are limp). But natural cut fries, the kind where there is still skin on them (and the eyes, too!), well, I really don't like 'em. I don't like the "fried skin" texture. I don't like the grit that seems to accompany it, either. And I don't like the appearance or texture of the black eyes in my mouth. (However, I do like the skin on baked potatoes, most of the time, so I'm not anti-potato skin.)

In short, natural cut fries are really not my thing.

Which set my mind to wondering: Are there people who like skin-on fries? If so, what do you like about them?

And then I was thinking about why restaurants would choose to serve them. I can't imagine that there are a lot of people clamoring for skin-on fries (though maybe there are and I'm just not aware of it), so what would be the motivation? All I can come up with is the idea that it's a time-saving and therefore cost-cutting measure, in that the potato (or a whole box of 'em) can pulled from the box and thrown in the cutter (if they're being made at the restaurant); the company is bypassing the person-standing-there-cutting-out-the-potato-eyes process, and the peeling, too, which saves them money, right?

So ... thoughts?

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  1. <Are there people who like skin-on fries? If so, what do you like about them?>

    I do. I won't say I love them, but I do like them. I simply like the variety of texture.

    It has this rustic feel to them.

    1. I'm okay with skin-on french fries IF they're washed and scrubbed--no eyes! And with any deep fried potato, they have to go thru a second "finishing dip" in the oil.

      1. Love 'em as long as they are not limp.

        1. I rarely eat fries since they give me a massive stomach ache now, but when i do i prefer the skin on (but no eyes or black spots!) thick "steak fries" style.
          I like the texture and more earthy potato flavor from the skin....

          1. i like skin-on fries. never had them with the big eyes in them, though. and must of course be well scrubbed. need to be crispy, and not big thick things ("steak fries").

            love stuffed potato skins snack and eating skin on baked potato, too.

            1. Skin, no skin.

              No real preference, as long as those spuds are twice fried. In duck fat.

              As to your question, no, it's not cost-cutting issue.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                What percentage of fries are fried in duck fat?

                  1. re: GH1618

                    I have yet to get me a tub of duck fat at the organic-mart thingy. Can't wait any longer.

                1. Given the choice, I will take "skin on" every time. I really like them more than french fries from peeled potatoes.

                  1. I like them - I like the extra texture and flavour the skin gives. If I make french fries at home, I leave the skin on.

                      1. Cutting your own fries would never save a restaurant money. If they want low cost fries, they would buy them frozen from Sysco. Taking whole potatoes and turning them into fries shows a higher level of commitment to making good fries. Five Guys leaves the skin on their fries when they cut them. They are great right from the fryer. Aren't double fried from what I can tell as they go soggy pretty quickly.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Bkeats

                          Those frozen fries, often "Big C", are about the most economical & reliable FF products avail. When cooked in good oil at the right temp for the right amount of time they are pretty much foolproof.

                          I have found 5 Guys FF to be inconsistent and like everything else they serve, ghastly expensive for what you get.

                          1. re: Tom34

                            No big deal, but Big C fries come from Restaurant Depot. Price conscious customers flock there. Sysco sells mostly upscale fries packaged under their own name, made by Lamb Weston or the like.

                        2. I just like potato skins. Must wash potatoes first though. Twice-deep-fried homemade fries in Crisco shortening in a cast iron chicken fryer are to die for. However, we usually bake them instead.

                          1. Natural cut? I love fries with skin or without

                            1. Fresh-cut fries have the potential to be great, but only if the restaurant does the proper double-fry technique. You have to cut, rinse, fry at low temp, rest at room temp, and fry at high temp, which takes a lot of manpower and skill, so I doubt anyone is saving money that way.

                              Many of the great Chicago fast food stands do it right. You can tell when you walk into these places because of the cutters mounted on the walls and the dozens of fry baskets filled with once-fried potatoes, ready for the second drop when an order comes in. If a place cuts fresh potatoes right into hot oil (i.e. In-N-Out) it makes for a terrible product and they might as well just use frozen fries for the cost savings.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                  You hit the nail on the head, when "done right".

                                  Labor intensive, space intensive & overall much more expensive.

                                2. You're probably not liking them because the places you've been eating them are using old potatoes. Seriously...eyes?

                                  You also need to wash them properly, not just cut and dump them in a bucket of water. That's the wrong way...

                                  1. Five Guys does twice fry it's FF.
                                    Anyone who doesn't prefer Homemade FF to Industrial brands, needs a taste check, IMHO!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: drsmoke

                                      Bah. I would rather have good frozen fries than soggy, greasy housemade ones, which is how a lot of them turn out. I lurve Five Guys fries though.

                                      1. re: drsmoke

                                        I don't like Five Guys fries. Too limp. I would much prefer an industrial yet rigid fry to a limp homemade one.

                                        1. re: drsmoke

                                          I generally agree with fresh anything but FF is one area where the manufactures have come as close to perfecting a product as possible.

                                        2. No, nobody likes or buys them........ Seriously, OF COURSE people like them, or they wouldn't be commonplace in restaurants or supermarket freezer sections. Some like the flavor and/or texture, some think the additional fiber is a plus (though considering french fries in any form "healthy" is a stretch). You've answered your own question: you are not aware of their popularity because you happen not to like them and therefore don't think anyone else should.

                                          1. After I moved away from home I finally realized that I'd never cared for baked potato skins, but had eaten them because my parents expected me to. I don't object to skin-on boiled new potatoes, but Russets must come naked to my plate (or ready to have their contents scooped out) if they expect my approval. If I find that my fries are still unskinned I will eat them – any fries (almost) are better than none – but next time I'll get the potato salad or coleslaw instead. But having known quite a few spud-skin freaks (and let's not forget those fern-bar staples, the dressed-and-seasoned Baked Potato Skins) it doesn't surprise me that skin-on fries have their adherents.

                                            1. Not a cost-cutter; I prefer skin-on, thick-cut (steak fries, if you will) twice-cooked 'taters everytime. :)

                                              1. Yes, they are cheaper to make because you save the labor cost of peeling the potatoes. i prefer fries peeled but I think plenty of people like "natural" fries too. What i can't stand are limp fries. If a restaurant is not going to take the time to fry them correctly in small batches then buy good frozen. I've been to many restaurants who are proud that they make their fries from scratch but they're frequently served like wet noodles.They are not hard to make but you need diligence to assure quality control. I sold french fries working for Sysco and the good ones are excellent. They can do things in processing that res taunts cant like dry the potato.If I was running anything but a high end restaurant I'd use frozen ff.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: zackly

                                                  Hoo-rah. I want my fries golden and crisp on the outside; mealy and hot and starchy on the inside, no matter who cut them or how they did it or what they fried them in.

                                                2. When I'm making fries for myself, I leave the skin on because I prefer the texture. Similarly, I prefer a well-fried, skin-on tater to a skinless one. All that said, I usually just hope for properly fried potatoes...that's the key.

                                                  1. I love skin-on -- but washed to eliminate the grit and with the eyes removed, please!

                                                    Sounds like your fry emporium is low on giveadamn, not so much looking to save a buck.

                                                    (I love potato skin anyway, especially when they're crispy in the oven or on the grill)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. It's the perception of "healthiness" indicated by the word "natural". There is a French fry for every taste, and more. French fries are a BIG business, and will keep growing exponentially. Who knows what the next idea will be? I remember French fries shaped like animals for the kiddies (it sort of bombed though).

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        I remember in the late eiighties when batter dipped Curly Q fries became popular. I was working for Sysco and the manufacturer couldn't keep up with the demand.and ran out. One Friday afternoon Sysco sent a half full tractor trailer 165 miles with just these fries to my area to deliver to accounts that were shorted earlier in the day. Now I don't see them much. .

                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                          I remember Curly Qs, especially the spicy ones; and I remember when waffle fries were the end all and be all, until everyone jumped on that bandwagon. I also remember Friday mornings and the knot in my stomach when I realized I had a 14 hour day ahead, driving our tiny delivery truck hither and yon, to make sure everyone was covered for the weekend. The good old days!

                                                      2. I like my potatoes fried with the skin on, but not 'french'

                                                        4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                            That is pretty cool. They are more like chips, but thicker.

                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                              Potatoes cook up so well in that "shape." I like to do russets that way, in the oven, until crispy and golden brown. Sprinkled liberally with Lawry's seasoning salt and a side of ketchup. Not much is better!

                                                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                I'll have to give that a try, then. :)

                                                            2. I don't mind skin, but I do support your cost-cutting theory. Peeling potatoes does take time, even if it is lower paid labor, and time adds up.

                                                              The kinds of places where this scene would play out are your upscale pubs/gastropubs and the neighborhood places that are more midrange but still have a burger on the menu because sometimes people just want a burger and some drinks on a Friday night. I work in such a place. Burgers are far from our focus, but having a burger and fries on the menu makes it seem more accessible to more people. It's premium beef with fancy cheese on a locally made bun, and it's around $16. We do use fresh potatoes, and the prep cook used to peel them, until a new chef came on and looked at costs and decided we could save a few bucks by not peeling potatoes. It might only save 2 hours a week to not peel them, but that's $1000 of labor cost saved in a year.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: babette feasts

                                                                Your remarks reminded me of the Balthazar piece in the NYTimes recently: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/mag...

                                                              2. I like them with the skin on, it somehow visually makes me feel like they are closer to the natural product and more like something I would make at home. I like the texture of the skin.

                                                                I will admit to being one of the few people who likes limp fries. I hate hard, hard fries, I don't get the appeal. So everyone's fry mileage may vary, obviously.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                  I've never had "hard, hard fries..." Do you mean extra crispy??

                                                                  I too will eat limp fries, so long as they aren't super greasy, though the two seem to go hand in hand.

                                                                  Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside is the ideal FF.

                                                                2. "Are there people who like skin-on fries? If so, what do you like about them?"

                                                                  Yup. Me. My husband. Other people we're related to. I get that they're not for everyone, but we like them.

                                                                  They tend to have more taste and texture than skin-off fries, which tend to be rather boring. Skin-on fries are more interesting and taste better to us.

                                                                  1. I know I will get smacked for saying it but I have found that McDonald's FF right out of the oil are consistently better than many attempts at custom cut fries.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                      Tom, if you're old enough you will remember all the national fast food places cooked their fries in animal fat until the food police pressured them to switch to all-vegetable shortening.They were incredible! Even my French chef friends raved about them. Maybe one day they will re-think this decision. I still see hydrogenated soybean oil on their ff ingredient statement.

                                                                      1. re: zackly

                                                                        Only Zero trans fat oil here, by law, for the fryer. Unless maybe they're coated....not a big ff fan but the coated ones I like.

                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                          If there is less than .05 gram of trans fat manufacturers can declare an item has zero trans fat. If you see partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredient statement it does contain trans fat. Look @ things like peanut butter. Skippy claims zero trans fat but it has a bit because it contains partially hydrogenated oil (for stability, no stirring required).This tiny amount doesn't bother me because I eat a lot more trans fat than this in dairy & beef but I know some people would avoid it.

                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                            Doesn't bother me either way, I hate that you have no choice though.

                                                                        2. re: zackly

                                                                          I absolutely remember the animal fat fast food fries as well as juicy cooked to order 1/4 lb burgers. Fat is flavor :-)

                                                                      2. I have very specific feelings about this, namely:

                                                                        I like big fat center-of-the-potato fries with a little bit of skin on the end of them, and I do not like shriveled tiny fries with a whole side of skin.

                                                                        I used to work in a restaurant where we cut our own fries and when I was making them for myself I would "accidentally" throw those ones back in the french fry bucket instead of cooking them.

                                                                        1. (Odd to reply to my own OP, but here goes.)

                                                                          First, thank you for all the responses. I have learned a lot and very much appreciate it.

                                                                          I've also attempted to broaden my tastes and have tried these types of fries again, at several places, and at home (where I can fry them properly), and have come to the conclusion that, for me, french fries with skin on just don't work.

                                                                          However, I do like stuffed baked potato skins. I do like the skin on a baked potato, too. I don't mind unpeeled (red-skin) potatoes in a mash. And I don't peel when I'm making a potato and onion concoction in the frying pan.

                                                                          But not on french fries. Go figure.