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Aug 20, 2014 02:53 PM

Mashed potatoes, heated milk question

I've normally followed the classic instructions for making mashed potatoes, wherein you heat the milk or cream before adding it.

Recently, I've added the milk/cream without heating it first and found that it made no discernible difference to the end product. Aside from that I follow the standard recs.

So I'm wondering: does anyone else find that heating the milk/cream makes a difference? Does it maybe matter more if you're going for thinner, more pureed texture (and thus adding more milk)? Is heating up the milk just cooking lore?

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    1. re: girloftheworld

      Have you ever personally noticed this effect as a problem? And if so, how much milk are you adding? Since the potatoes are generally either still on the heat or just taken off the heat when the milk is added and they normally make up a much larger proportion of the finished product (by weight) than milk, any cooling seems to be so minimal as to be negligible. Even with the relatively high amount of cream added in the Robuchon recipe, cream only makes up something like 15% of the recipe by weight. Most recipes use even less.

      1. re: cowboyardee

        ok let me rephrase.. It makes the potatoes cold? :)

        1. re: girloftheworld

          No, it does not. It cools them a little bit, momentarily, but if the pan is still hot, they come right back up to plenty hot enough.

      2. re: girloftheworld

        2nd that! The same goes for melted butter vs cold butter.

      3. I never heat the milk or cream first; the potatoes are hot when I mix them. I add the milk or cream a little at a time until I get the potatoes to where I want the consistency to be, which is smooth & creamy, and they never get cold from unheated liquid. I imagine that if the potatoes were not straight from the stove top, putting unheated milk in them would cause them to stay lumpy.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Cherylptw

          Mine never get cold either. Plenty warm.
          I often make the mashed potatoes earlier in the day with other side prepping, so they get nuked anyways.

          1. re: Cherylptw

            I never heat mine either. I add a little butter (cold - the hot potatoes melt it), whipped cream cheese and cold milk or cream (depending on what I have on hand). Then beat with my trusty old hand mixer. They usually get set back on the burner while I make gravy or such, so they are never cold anyway. Sometimes I'll add in roasted garlic too!

            1. re: boyzoma

              I also add butter straight from the fridge and sometimes roasted garlic and caramelized onion to mine also. I, too use my hand mixer to whip them up.

          2. I think it's just a temperature thing. Heated milk keeps the potatoes warm.
            I usually don't bother.

            1. Other than serving temperature, I've found the only difference is infusion of additional essences.

              I love the Georges Perrier recipe that has a few Tbs. of chopped shallots briefly sauteed in hazelnut oil before adding the cream and heating just to a simmer. With a pinch of s&p, the cream/shallot liquid is then whisked in with the boiled and riced potatoes by hand to a fluffy consistency and served immediately. Minced fresh herbs and gravy at your discretion but not necessary.


              1. I heat half and half and infuse it with whole peppercorns, smashed cloves of garlic, bay leaf and fresh rosemary for about 1/2 hour - never at a boil. I drain the salted water off of the potatoes, return them to the pot with the heat on low to evaporate the water and then strain the half and half infusion into them along with a generous amount of unsalted butter and use a potato masher to marry them. Sometimes I throw in a bit of Parm cheese.

                These always get a great reception :o)

                1 Reply