Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for making mashed potatoes

I didn't know it was possible to ruin mashed potatoes. I watched my mom make from-scratch mashed potatoes for years, and have made them myself many times, with great success. But, tonight my mashed potatoes turned out wrong. They were smooth and creamy, but gummy -- almost the consistency of play dough. Very strange! I'm pretty sure I know what I did wrong, though. I used the hand mixer and mashed the hot potatoes with some butter added... and then poured in a little cold milk. Voila! Gummy potato play dough!

Chuck roast, gravy, and mashed potatoes

The good news? My roast beef turned out perfect, I felt *so accomplished* that dinner was started (in the crock pot) at 6 AM (yes, we're very early risers! :P), and it made the house smell good all day. The scary part is that I had over 4 pounds of chuck roast in the crock pot (for just our family!) and our leftovers were less than 1 cup of meat! I guess we'll be having beef vegetable soup heavy-on-the-vegetables next week. ;)

Potatoes can do funny things when put in the blender, too. I never knew this until a couple weeks ago when I was making blended potato soup for dinner after Joshua's wisdom tooth extractions. Ahh, the science of food! Apparently I had/have a lot to learn about potato starch! ;) Note: Don't try to mash potatoes using a blender or food processor, as it will make them gummy due to the blade breaking down the starch... ;)

Mashed potatoes
I'm still using fresh parsley from my pot outside! I've loved having a few fresh herbs on-demand. Many thanks to my friend Kathryn who gave me starts this year! :)

How my mom makes her amazing mashed potatoes:

Peel potatoes and cut into halves or fourths. Put them in a BIG pot (bigger than you think you need!), cover with water, and add some salt (like when cooking pasta or beans!).

Tip: To keep potatoes from boiling over when cooking, put a streak of butter around the pot on the inside, at the top. I've found this works, unless I've really over-filled my pot.

With the lid on, bring potatoes to a boil and then simmer until tender. Drain water from pan.

Tip: You can save a dish by using the pan's lid, slightly ajar, to drain the water. But, USE POTHOLDERS and be careful doing this! :) My mom's great at it, but I usually just grab a colander to drain the potatoes and then return them to the pan.

Return pan and potatoes to the stove. Add butter and milk and heat on low until milk is hot. Remove from heat, mash as desired, and add salt and pepper to taste.

My mom's other standby mashed potatoes: Parsley Potatoes!

My favorite mashed potato casserole: Gourmet Potatoes!

Eliyahu started beans for me!
Eliyahu (5), so excited that he got to measure, rinse, and start some beans in the crock pot for me (with only a little help). :) Joshua's taking beans (with sour cream, cheese, and hot sauce) in his lunches this week.

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1. Tip for greasing pans (Willa at Armstrong Family Fare)
2. Olive Oil Tasting 101 (The Local Cook)
3. Keeping lettuce fresh and crisp (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
4. Tips for making a self-basting turkey (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
5. What to do with empty butter wrappers (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
6. Keeping hot dogs warm (Kolfinna's Korner)
7. Labeling spices (Living So Abundantly)

Comments

http://thelocalcook.com/2011/11/13/olive-oil-tasting-101/

I grew up on mashed potatoes because my Dad was a potato farmer :-) These days I like to throw in some carrots, parsnips, or a turnip or two just to keep things interesting.

Today I'm linking up a post that explains how to taste olive oil (much like wine!)

Hey Tammy, I learned never to mash potatoes using the hand mixer or blender/food processor as they always turned my potatoes into gummy starch. I pretty much follow your Mom's method only I don't heat the milk until it is hot, I just throw the milk and butter into the hot pot (over the hot element which I just turned off), leave for a moment to melt/heat just a little and then mash.
The only other times my mashed potatoes haven't turned out right has been to do with the potatoes - although I haven't been sure what the problem was - too waxy, too old?
I really feel for Joshua - I remember being miserable after having 4 wisdom teeth out (and having braces before that).

...only I don't heat the milk until it is hot, I just throw the milk and butter into the hot pot (over the hot element which I just turned off), leave for a moment to melt/heat just a little and then mash.
I think that is probably sufficient, as well! My mom has a gas stove so I think the low heat/flame is probably good when using gas, but for electric ranges, a hot pan + hot burner (even though turned off) is fine! :D

My grandma makes the absolute best mashed potatoes I have ever had and she has always used a hand mixer for as long as I can remember and she has never had gummy starchy potatoes. I think it is the potatoes not the mixer.

Those are "whipped potatoes". My gramma always made them that way. A hand mixer or stand mixer is okay for whipped potatoes. Not a food processor or blender,

Oh, yes, a hand mixer is fine for mashed potatoes! But nothing with a powerful blade like a food processor or blender. :)

I love your idea for not making the potatoes boil over. I will try that one! I should also heat my milk and butter. Once I put my butter into the kitchen aid mixer cold from the refrigerator on top of my big bowl of potatoes and the butter jumped out of the bowl across the room when I turned it on! Hopefully I haven't lost all credibility for sharing that.:)

It's good to see you back blogging. My son is at the end of braces and can't wait to get them off. He didn't have all of the extra stuff your husband has to go through, though. I hope all goes well. Others gave great advise. I sometimes would forget to plan a soft meal on days he had them adjusted. For us it was initially very painful and then every time he got them adjusted for a couple of days. So not every day. Hope it goes well and thankful for the opportunity for you guys.

My kitchen tip for today is how to keep lettuce fresh and crisp. http://www.feelgoodaboutdinner.com/2011/11/keeping-lettuce-crisp-and-fresh.html

Thanks for sharing!
Heather

Thanks, Heather! :) We're excited about finally getting the ball rolling on Joshua's dental work! :) Sounds like he'll be able to adjust/adapt and eat normally before too long... I've missed having homemade pizza. ;) I am not cooking separate meals -- we're just all eating what he eats! Well, minus the pureed salmon chowder in the blender. My stomach just couldn't handle that one! ;)

Thanks for your kitchen tips, as usual. I appreciate you! :)

My method for mashed potatoes... I cook the potatoes just like you do. I just be sure to cut them fairly small. Some people make the mistake of leaving them too large and by the time the are cooked through the outsides are filled with water and that impacts the flavor and texture. When they are almost finished I melt better and heat milk separately. Drain completely and I usually put them back on the fire to be sure all water has evaporated. I then mash the plain potatoes with a hand mixer. I then add the melted butter, salt and pepper.( I read somewhere that adding the butter before the dairy helps coat the starch molecules making creamier mashed potatoes.) Mix well and then add the milk until you reach the desired consistency.

I have to say that I have always added cold milk and butter that's only been softened, not melted. I've never had mashed potatoes turn out gummy. {shrug} However, I'll definitely have to remember the bit about the blender and food processor, because I didn't know that!

Heather (married Aug '00, mom to 6, ages 10 and under, baby #7 due in June)

Heather, I wonder then if part of it is that I mashed the potatoes with some butter and then, after they were mostly mashed, added the cold milk. (I didn't add a lot of cold milk, honest, it was about 1/4 cup of milk and I made 8 cups of mashed potatoes!) So the milk didn't have time to warm up as I mashed... ? :)

I think the variety of potatoes you are using can also make a difference with mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes seem to work best for mashed potatoes. I sometimes use other varieties if that is what is on hand, but the waxier varieties don't have the same texture. I usually heat some milk in a measuring cup in the microwave so it is warm before adding to the potatoes.

Great tips, Tammy! Moms and grandmas sure know how to make them! We enjoy my grandmother's at Thanksgiving.

Here's my tip for today --
"Tips for making a self-basting turkey"
http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/2011/11/thanksgiving-turkey-bacon-infused-gravy.html

SnoWhite

I never use a mixer for my potatoes. I have an old potato masher that I use. Also, I don't put milk in my potatoes. I use sour cream and butter. Sometimes I will use ranch dressing. When my husband makes mashed potatoes, he uses Miracle Whip Salad dressing in them. I really prefer the sour cream.

The above post reminds me of my Granny B! She always used Mayo or Salad Dressing in her mashed potatoes, and whipped them with a hand mixer. Somehow she never managed to over beat them, a skill that is hard learned.
While I miss her cooking, I do miss having meals with her more, but the beautiful thing is getting to see my Mother as a Grandmother in her own way and cherishing the memories I watch her make with my child.

I never thought to heat the butter & milk.Great tip.Thanks

Mrs. Paradis

Hmmm. Odd. My mom always uses a hand mixer to make mashed potatoes - and I've never had any that were gummy? I use a potato masher because we like our potatoes chunky.

Here is my tip for the week. What to do with empty butter wrappers: http://www.stacymakescents.com/kitchen-tip-tuesday-111511

Thanks!

~Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents

Oh, yes, a hand mixer is fine for mashed potatoes! But nothing with a powerful blade like a food processor or blender. :)

My mom always uses a hand mixer because my dad likes lump-free mashed potatoes. But Joshua and I both like mashed potatoes with the skins on and some lumps! :)

Our potatoes gummed up last Thanksgiving. Enough potatoes for 50 of us. To try to save them, I added sour cream and cheese to them put them in baking dishes and heated them thru for 20 minutes.
They were delicious!
Love your blog Tammy. I've made lots of your recipes and we've loved them all.

Connie in CA

Oh no! I'm glad the potatoes were still delicious. :) Cheese can fix anything! ;)

Thanks so much for the compliment, Connie. I'm glad the recipes have been a success! :)

heating and keeping hot dogs warm
http://kolfinnaskorner.smellygoodstuffs.com/kitchen-tip-tuesday-hot-dogs/

Mashed potatoes are awesome--homemade, of course! ;)

Here is my post about labeling spices:
http://livingsoabundantly.blogspot.com/2011/11/labeling-spices.html

the gourmet potatoes sound really good! My kids always want Ranch Mashed Potatoes--just substitute Ranch Dressing for the milk. (They also like Ranch coleslaw--just dump in any brand of ranch dressing and they'll eat it!) However, our "normal" mashed potatoes have a "well" in the center that we fill with melted (real) butter and chopped green onions. I have to make a large batch since both kids are teenagers and eat them all. I can so relate to that roast "disappearing"!! How many nights have I left dinner in the crock pot only to find, coming home late after teaching, that they ate MY PORTION too!!

Lisa @ http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/2011/11/menu-plan-monday-prince-charles.html

I'll have to try Ranch mashed potatoes some time; I never thought to do that! :)

Oh, I know... good thing I made more roast beef than I thought we would need! :)

My mom is the world's best mashed potato maker, surely making them at least a couple of times a week for over 50 years. She always makes them exactly the way you did and hers have never been gummy.

However, once I made mashed potatoes that had the texture of paste. Tasted great though! I thought it had to do with the usual method I used: I boiled and drained the potatoes then placed them in a sealed pressure cooker to keep them warm for almost an hour. Since they were red potatoes, I thought that they somehow became extra starchy because I kept them warm so long before whipping them with my mixer.

Hi Tammy,

The tip in my post for this week's party is how to pack fiber and protein into a dessert you don't have to feel guilty about eating ... Pumpkin Frozen Greek Yogurt. Add some toasted pecans and syrup for a "praline topping" and it provides a pumpkin pie taste (but not too sweet).

Thanks as always,
Robin @ happilyhomeafter.blogspot.com

Hey Tammy!

I've had taters come out pasty and gummy if I left them cook too long.

I've always used cold milk and butter and never had a problem.

Yes, that is what happened! If you add anything cold to hot potatoes, you get SLIME.
Took me many pots of slime to figure out what I was doing wrong :o)
Kate

I always add cold milk, butter, sour cream and occasionally cream cheese to my potatoes. I do it before I mash them. I just use an old masher I don't use a mixer. I don't know if whipping them makes any difference.

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