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Old 05-26-2013, 05:52 AM   #1
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Homemade hash browns are always gummy and bad

So I've tried to make fresh shredded hash browns a few times in the past and they've always turned out sticky, gummy, and raw tasting no matter how I prepare or cook them.

I've even tried washing them for like 15 minutes straight in warm/cold water before I cook them and they still taste and feel like I poured corn starch on them. They're so gummy, and they taste raw even though they're clearly about to be burned.

Now, give me a bag of pre-shredded ones from the store and I can make the best hash browns that most people have ever had. But when I use my own potatoes, it's horrible. They're russet potatoes. Bad choice?

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Old 05-26-2013, 06:00 AM   #2
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Do you squeeze the bajeezus out of them? I think that is the key. You need to get as much water out of them as you can. And you should use a lot of oil. Give them a quick stir to even out the pile in the pan and leave them until they brown underneath, then flip them like a pancake. All in one piece.

That is how I would do it, anyway...
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:03 AM   #3
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Yeah. I wash them until my arms are about to fall off to get the starch out, and then put them on a towel or paper towel to dry them too. I'll go try my method one more time since potatoes are practically worthless. Just in case I'm remembering wrong.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:03 AM   #4
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Are you using already cooked ones and then shred them or raw and the shred them ?
I have made them both ways.
Raw I put into cold water then when ready queeze water out with a towel before putting in hot pan
The most thing is making sure your pan it HOT. I always use my cast iron pan.
once pan is hot I add butter once melted then I put in the potatoes spread them out and then don't move them. peek and see if other side has brown and then flip them don't stir them . I cut into them to make serving sections and flip sections cook until brown Uncovered - Hope this helps
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:05 AM   #5
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I put in the potatoes spread them out and then don't move them. peek and see if other side has brown and then flip them don't stir them . I cut into them to make serving sections and flip sections cook until brown Uncovered - Hope this helps
We've got a bingo! Not moving them is the key, methinks. If you keep moving them as they cook through, they will essentially become mashed potatoes.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:07 AM   #6
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Forgot I don't use all oil as it tends to give them a grayish color I use mostly butter with a little oil added to the butter, plus the butter gives them added flavor
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:10 AM   #7
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Interesting. I always have use oil when attempting to brown potatoes. I don't want to risk burning butter when getting up to those temps. Will try it next time and see what you mean...
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:14 AM   #8
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Adding the oil to the butter prevents that burning.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:29 AM   #9
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So they actually worked this time... Of course I take the time to ask this question and they're magically perfect all of a sudden *rolleyes*

Thanks anyway.

Edit: Mmmm... Tasty. I'm going to regret the fact that they soak up oil like a sponge in about 15 minutes.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:57 AM   #10
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I have better luck with cooked, cooled, then shredded russet potatoes. I use peanut oil. Heat cast iron pan to med hot. Add oil, when it's shimmering hot add potatoes. OR, I usually add oil when the pan gets turned on. The oil heats as the pan warms to temp. Haven't really seen a difference. With a turner flatten out or distribute the potatoes evenly. Then leave them alone until it's time to turn them over. If making a lot, then I tip them out on a plate and turn them topside down back in the pan after adding a little more oil for the 2nd side.

I have made hash browns from raw potatoes, I think I like mine cooked a little more done in the center. Which is why I prefer to use previously cooked potatoes. Now cubed or sliced fried potatoes, I cook using raw potatoes. Funny, one would think since these are thicker cuts I would feel the same about achieving that degree of doneness in the middle feeling. They get cooked done just fine, and with cubes, I worry them a lot in the pan, shaking and turning, and they don't turn to mush. SLiced fried taters I cook in one layer in batches and leave them alone until the bottoms are brown.

I don't know where the oil goes. I don't want to know. I pretend it evaporates druing the cooking process and doesn't end up a little in every bite. I suppose you could tip the potatoes out on a paper towel lined plate and dab the topside to remove excess oil before plating and serving.
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by naphthalene View Post
Yeah. I wash them until my arms are about to fall off to get the starch out, and then put them on a towel or paper towel to dry them too. I'll go try my method one more time since potatoes are practically worthless. Just in case I'm remembering wrong.
When I make hashbrowns, I shred the potatoes and then let them sit in a bowl of cold water for about 30 minutes. Then I squeeze out as much water as I can with my hands and set them on a clean kitchen towel. Then I wring them out again when they're wrapped up in the towel. It's work, but worth it because removing the moisture is key to getting that crunchy exterior as they cook.

Some people use nesting bowls & put the potatoes into the larger bowl and then push down the smaller bowl on top of them to squish out the moisture. I've heard of people that have used their salad spinner, but I haven't tried it. Another option is to use your ricer (not to press the potatoes through it but to use the force to wring out the water), not something I've tried either since I don't have one.

Anyway, try muscling out some more water from your shredded potatoes to see if that helps. =)
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:42 AM   #12
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I microwave my potatoes until cooked and then cool and shred. Leftover baked potatoes work great too. I have no luck with raw on my stove.
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Old 05-26-2013, 02:21 PM   #13
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When I make hashbrowns, I shred the potatoes and then let them sit in a bowl of cold water for about 30 minutes. Then I squeeze out as much water as I can with my hands and set them on a clean kitchen towel. Then I wring them out again when they're wrapped up in the towel. It's work, but worth it because removing the moisture is key to getting that crunchy exterior as they cook.
This is exactly what I do, too.
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Old 05-26-2013, 03:45 PM   #14
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Shred the potatoes and add them to cold water. Drain them and lay them out on a baking sheet. In a 325 oven,bake until the steam is gone. Fry them in a cast iron pan with clarified butter. Add seasoning at the end. If salt is added they will give off moisture and make them soggy.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:28 PM   #15
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Are you using already cooked ones and then shred them or raw and the shred them ?
I have made them both ways.
Raw I put into cold water then when ready squeeze water out with a towel before putting in hot pan
The most thing is making sure your pan it HOT. I always use my cast iron pan.
once pan is hot I add butter once melted then I put in the potatoes spread them out and then don't move them. peek and see if other side has brown and then flip them don't stir them . I cut into them to make serving sections and flip sections cook until brown Uncovered - Hope this helps
The only thing I can add is to soak them when they are raw for about an hour. You will see a lot of the starch in the bottom of the bowl. I would suggest that you remove the potatoes manually instead of just dumping them into a strainer. When you do that you are just dumping all the starch over them again. Use your hands to remove them from the soaking bowl. Squeeze, and place in a very hot pan. You should hear a sizzle when you place them in the pan. Lets Cook has given you some excellent directions for browning them. You might want to place some sea salt in the soaking water to flavor them before sauteing them.
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:20 PM   #16
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I also pretend that the oil evaporates. What else could it be? Don't stir the 'taters while they are browning. Let them get browned and crispy, then flip.
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:23 AM   #17
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...I don't know where the oil goes. I don't want to know....
I know where the oil goes in our house...directly to my hips!

I found a turning method that works for me. When it's time I divide the potatoes into four wedges and, using two similar size turners, slipe one underneath a wedge and the second on top the potatoes. Have the turners positioned the same way, so that you're holding the potatoes between the two. This way when you turn the wedge you are putting some pressure on the side that will become the bottom, thereby keeping the loose pieces of potato together. Carefully remove what becomes the bottom turner when you flip since it's basically upside-down. If your turners are too small just make more wedges in the pan.
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:34 AM   #18
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I don't wash mine at all. I shred raw potatos (big side of box grater), salt (more than you actually need cause you'll squeeze some out later) and pepper them then let them sit on the cutting board for 10-15 minutes. By that time, the salt has drawn out a LOT of liquid and there's a huge puddle. I then squeeze all the liquid out of them right before they go into the pan into hot oil, and I DO mean squeeze. I suppose putting them in a colander would help the draining process along and you could even wash the grated potoatos before S&P'g them. The above is just the way I've always done it. Mine come out fully cooked, nice and crispy and golden brown, whether loose or in cakes. Sometimes I'll have to add a little more S&P at the end of cooking but I've got the amounts pretty much down after years of practice.
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:09 AM   #19
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I'd really like to know why Mom's hash browns were always nice and crispy, and she never went through this stuff. Grated, seasoned, fried. I have the gummy problem, and also with using used mashed potatoes for potato pancakes, which hers turned out perfect. Trust me, she did not salt, rinse, bleed (what she called the salting process, which she did use for bitter cucumbers), etc. I was there, I learned all from her when it comes to potatoes, and she didn't do all that stuff.

Is it possible that potatoes in the 50s and 60s and early 70s simply had less water in them? Mine turn out lousy and am considering Ore-Ida the next time I want hash browns.
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:19 AM   #20
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It is the starch that makes it gummy. I wonder if using a Yukon Gold which is a little less starchy would make a difference? I have to buy potatoes for this shopping trip and I think I will pick some up. I do like them for potato salad. For me, the reason of placing them in a bowl of salted water is to draw out the starch and to keep the potatoes from turning brown. I enjoy prep work so all that is not a chore to me.
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