How can I keep grated potatoes from turning black? I know, ice water, but here's the problem: I have to mix up a batch of ingredients for latkes and bring the stuff into my daughter's school on Friday morning, at which point we will cook them in an electric skillet in the classroom (the teacher thinks pre-cooked latkes will get hopelessly soggy, and I think she's right). So if I grate everything, mix in the eggs and flour and all, and put it in a chilled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put ice packs on top, will the low temperature prevent the oxidation? I don't see how I can grate the potatoes and then bring them to school in an ice bath - there's really no good way to squeeze out the water in the classroom. Help! Why did I agree to this project? ;)



latoscana December 9, 2010
I don't think the color is the biggest problem - the problem is hot, splattering oil. I've made latkes with Sunday School kids and, although they tasted great, it was a nerve-wracking experience. Frying in oil is just not a great idea around children. It's dangerous, it's a mess, and it leaves a lingering odor. And in order to provide at least one to each child, it will take quite a while. Latkes and classrooms just aren't a good fit.

I agree with making them ahead of time and crisping them in an oven - is there an oven anywhere in the school?
usuba D. December 9, 2010
Blanch the grated potatoes for a few seconds in boiling water, than immediately refresh in ice water. They will stay white til you make your latkes. Not much different than taking day old boiled potatoes to make rosti potatoes.
Kayb December 8, 2010
One thing I was told to do when making latkes -- and I'm not sure if it'd work for a large batch over an extended period of time -- is to toss the potato shreds in lemon juice before leaving them to drain in the colander. You might try that as an experiment for a several-hour period and see if it works. I'd be interested in hearing whether or not it does, if you try it.
betteirene December 8, 2010
Don't make the batter ahead of time. No matter what you do, if the potatoes don't turn black, the batter will turn gray. And even though you think your daughter's classmates won't notice black potatoes or graying batter, you might end up with a watery mess if the mixture isn't fried up within 15 or so minutes--would you rather drain grated potatoes or drain the batter?

If this is to be more of a cooking demonstration, I'd either buy bags of shredded raw potatoes or find (or develop) a recipe using frozen thawed potato shreds. Then I'd put on my best Sandra Lee face and mix and everything in front of the students.

If this lesson is geared more towards the cultural aspect of latkes (and if it is, bravo!), make and cook the latkes on Thursday. Drain them briefly on paper towels, then allow them to cool completely on wire racks. (For optimum crispiness, don't allow them to cool completely on the paper towels.) Freeze them in single layers, and when they're solid, stack them and wrap the stacks in plastic.

When it's time to re-crisp them, heat the electric griddle to 350 if the latkes are 1/2" thick, or to 375 degrees if the latkes are thin. You most likely will not have to grease the griddle. As you flip and turn, explain why latkes are a tradition, making sure your voice conveys appropriate magic and awe as you tell of the miracle.

bella S. December 8, 2010
I had parents make latkes in my classroom a number of years ago. They had the mixture made, but also prought in a food processor and showed the kids how they had made the mixture. They fried the latkes while I read to the kids. The smell was intoxicating. It was really hard to wait. They also had a decent sized convection oven to keep the latkes warm while they cooked the rest. It was really yummy, but more importantly, quite a nice experience for 18 students who had never had, or even had heard of latkes before, as well as 2 students who got to share some of their heritage with the rest of the class.
campagnes December 8, 2010
I agree with Sadassa_Ulna.. the shredded "hash brown" potatoes are treated to keep their color. Probably cost a little more than just shredding your own, but if your priority is to keep their color, it's worth considering. Good luck!
iuzzini December 8, 2010
I agree w drbabs-- or par-fry them at home and then finish them in the skillet at school. That might work out better anyway because it will be faster. Sounds like a fun activity!
Sadassa_Ulna December 8, 2010
Salad spinner! Or, you can buy shredded potatoes in bags - I recently found some in the bacon section of my grocery store - they are treated with . . . something but I found them pretty tasty!
drbabs December 8, 2010
Beth, it's the starch's exposure to oxygen that causes the potatoes to turn black. Your idea (because of the egg and flour coating) might work if you move quickly. How far are you from school? Can you put the batter together at home and drive to school while the teacher is heating the oil in the skillet? Conversely,does the classroom have an oven? If it does, you could pre-fry the latkes at home and heat them in the oven--they will crisp up again. (I did that at my daughter's school when she was little.) (good luck...)
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