I have never worked in a professional kitchen, but I have had relations with several people who have, and I’ve enjoyed a few brief glimpses into that world. These glimpses were rendered somewhat blurry by shift drinks, but the thing that blew my mind was how much prep work it took to run a restaurant. Beyond the chopping and slicing and dicing, I was floored by how much food was either partially or completely cooked before anyone even orders it.
But the slicing and dicing was pretty important too. If you’ve ever been charged with making a lot of mashed potatoes, you probably noticed that the peeling and cubing can take a while. Luckily, you can prep your spuds 24 hours in advance, without sacrificing flavor or texture.
How to prepare potatoes like a prep cook
If you were to peel and chop some potatoes, place them in a bowl or other vessel, then cover them and store them in the fridge, you would be displeased with the results. Potato flesh oxidizes when exposed to oxygen, and even a so-called “air-tight” container will have some oxygen-rich air hanging around inside of it. Rather than trying to suck out the air, all you have to do is displace it with water. Just place the potatoes in whatever container you wish to store them in, then add enough water to cover them completely, then cover them with an air-tight lid. Don’t let any corners peak out above the water line, as doing so will expose them to oxygen and cause them to brown.
You’ve got a day, max
Unfortunately, this storage method only buys you a day, but sometimes that’s all you need. After 24 hours, the chill of the fridge will convert the potato’s starches to sugar, which will affect both the texture and flavor. Still, if you plan ahead, you can double your potato pleasure with a few extra minutes of work. Peel and chop or slice a large amount of potatoes one day, use a few for dinner that night, then cover the remainder and use it the next day in a different preparation. It may not seem like a huge change, but not having to peel potatoes makes eating potatoes a lot more enticing.