Mashed potatoes have a lot of great uses around your home. As one of the most recognized staple comfort foods, mashed potatoes will go with virtually any kind of meal you may make. But one problem with them is that they do not keep particularly well for very long. If you want to keep your potatoes for a longer time, freezing mashed potatoes is an important skill to learn.
Image used under Creative Commons from Glory Foods
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How Long Do Mashed Potatoes Last Unfrozen?
Mashed potatoes are something of a misnomer, as they are not just the potatoes themselves. If you were to simply mash the potatoes and add any other ingredients later on, the potatoes would last in their mashed form for a lot longer than they typically do. But the tradition is to put milk, butter or both into your potatoes during their preparation. This changes the entire composition of the potatoes, and makes your potatoes last a lot less time. Dairy is not known for keeping very long when it isn’t frozen, and even in the fridge a week is the longest you should keep your potatoes.
You can always tell when mashed potatoes have gone bad. Their texture changes to become glossier due to the curdling of the dairy products mixed in, and the taste becomes sour. If the dairy products go bad enough, even the smell will become “off” and easy to detect. This is why keeping mashed potatoes in the fridge is not the best idea if you want to keep them for any significant length of time.
Freezing mashed potatoes changes the entire game. While they will only last for a week with their dairy mixture without freezing, they will last no less than two months with excellent consistency when you freeze them. Keeping your bags of mashed potatoes in the freezer for three months or more should be no major issue, and keeping them for six months in there can be done without harm. If you value flexibility, this is an excellent way to extend the functional lifespan of your mashed potatoes.
Does Freezing Mashed Potatoes Make Sense?
Freezing mashed potatoes may or may not make sense, depending on your usage. For a lot of people, mashing up a few potatoes and then mixing in some butter and milk is not a particularly time consuming process. If you are able to quickly mix them up, you may not have any need to freeze your mashed potatoes. After all, finishing most of them during the first meal and then eating the rest over a couple of additional days takes away the need to preserve the potatoes. In cases where the potatoes do not have to last, freezing them does not make sense.
However, mashed potatoes do tend to last longer than the same potatoes will if you do not mash them. The texture is already soft, so the softening that happens to potatoes as they break down does not matter. There is the additional advantage that can happen if you want to prepare a meal several days in advance, or if you want to purchase a large number of potatoes and keep them for a long time. When you take advantage of economies of scale in this way, your savings may make freezing your mashed potatoes a worthwhile endeavor. Another reason why you may want to freeze your mashed potatoes is if you want to always have a ready source of them on a day’s notice.
How Do You Freeze Them?
First, you break up your mashed potatoes into even portions. Split them up into reasonable serving sizes, then scoop them out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You can easily put this baking sheet into the freezer for a few hours — overnight is best for making sure the servings are hard enough to stay solid. From there, you can move each other the “chunks” into individual plastic bags. You should mark each bag individually with the portion size and the date you froze them. If you make your portion sizes even, you can easily pull out as many bags as you want to get the right size for your purposes.
Image used under Creative Commons from Didriks
How Freezing Mashed Potatoes Affects Them
You can easily thaw out your mashed potatoes in either the oven or the microwave. If you keep them in the freezer for longer than six months, the consistency tends to suffer. The important thing about mashed potatoes is to not let the different densities of materials split up, which involves mixing them periodically. You also want to make sure that you thaw out the potatoes first in the fridge for a few hours so they thaw out evenly. Otherwise you may get a combination of watery and overly firm textures.
Freezing mashed potatoes works well. Be careful to thaw them out carefully.