I’m excited to share this post with you today about ‘fermented’ potatoes. I learned about the concept many years ago when I worked at an Outback Steakhouse. They go through great lengths, believe it or not, to prepare their potatoes. And as I can recall, it was the best baked potato I ever had in a restaurant hands down. What was their secret? Soaking them in salt water.
Ever since last summer I’ve been making sure to soak or essentially ‘ferment’ my potatoes when I prepare them. It really is rather simple, especially if you menu plan or plan ahead. The benefit to this method is described below by my good friend Lisa Herndon, author of; ‘Lisa’s Counter Culture: Pickles & Other Well Bred Foods.‘ My favorite benefit, is that this process lowers the starch content immensely. This is good news for anyone concerned about spiking their blood sugar. It thrills me too, because I can allow my boys to enjoy their potatoes – it helps fill their bellies AND stretch the budget. I serve potatoes 2-3 times per week in my house. I’ll make Rosemary Roasted Potato Wedges and breakfast home fries most often. I’ve also got a great Potato Salad recipe using this method, try my Probiotic Rich, Purple & White Fingerling Potato Salad recipe here!
‘Fermented’ Potato and Sweet Potato
I often think of potatoes and sweet potatoes as comfort food. Alas, I can’t seem to tolerate them without spiking my blood sugar for hours or experiencing bloating soon after eating them. This makes me sad. So I stopped eating them or did so rarely since I prefer feeling well.But there are times when a girl just needs some good ole taters. Since I am obsessed with fermenting, and already ferment almost anything, I decided to look into how traditional cultures prepared tubers. And it turns out that past generations were pretty clever. They usually soaked and fermented grains, vegetables, starches, etc…not only as a way of preserving them but also since it made them easier to digest. Voila! Thus the journey to soak and ferment potatoes began.
The upside of soaking and fermenting at the same time is that the starches/sugars that are released are now food for the beneficial bacteria and yeast to eat. So now you have these powerful probiotics working to neutralize anti-nutrients, make the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) more bioavailable and lend a little tang to your dish all with this easy step. Another benefit of soaking potatoes is the reduction or almost elimination of acrylamide. Acrylamide, is a chemical formed when foods high in starch are fried or cooked at high heat, such as baking or roasting. This is known as the Maillard reaction and is what lends the brown color and a specific flavor to roasted, fried and baked foods. Acrylamides may contribute to cancer in animals and may have health risks for people. And another huge plus is that it’s almost impossible to burn your taters after you ferment them. This is a great gift to some of us who may on occasion get distracted while cooking. Using a true anaerobic vessel to ferment your potatoes or sweet potatoes provides the ideal environment for the health promoting lactic acid bacteria to break down the starches and sugars. This method will lead to decrease acrylamides by 84%. If you want to essentially eliminate (98%) them, than use the Caldwell’s broad-spectrum starter. ( Caldwell’s vegetable starter is the only one available that is made from organic veggies).
Note that using whey or the Body Ecology starter (a narrow-spectrum starter—similar to what is used by the food industry based in dairy bacteria) are less than 50%. I’m including a recipe for fermented fries, but you can also ferment potatoes to be used for mashed, roasted quarters, or for making pancakes. Be creative! Keep in mind that the more surface area that is exposed, the higher amount of starch can be released. You can ferment whole potatoes but I recommend making sticks or chopping them into quarters. I find that digestive wise, red potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes tend to be the best options for those with sensitive guts or blood sugar regulation issues. And of course, I always recommend serving these with lots of good fat (duck fat, lard, ghee or coconut oil are all good options). [Written by: Lisa Herndon of Lisa’s Counter Culture].
Sources:Science Daily: Limiting Harmful Acrylamide: Lactic Acid Bacteria to Lower Risk of Cancer Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: The Effects of Low-Temperature Potato Storage and Washing and Soaking Pre-Treatments on the Acrylamide Content of French Fries ScienceDaily: Soaking Potatoes In Water Before Frying Reduces Acrylamide
- Potatoes (sweet, red or yams)
- Salt (I prefer Himalayan)
- Filtered Water
- Fat (bacon, ghee, coconut oil or ghee)
- Caldwell starter (optional)
- Cut potatoes into thick or thin fries (or slice/quarter).
- Add this to the Pickl-it with a 3.5% salt brine. Close the lid and add water to the airlock.
- Caldwell starter: Each Caldwell packet is adequate for 4.5 pounds of food.
- For 3 pounds of potatoes, use 1/2 a packet in a 3.5% brine. Dissolve the starter in some water, and then add to the brine.
- Ferment for 24 to 48 hours away from direct light. A shorter ferment time is needed as more surface area of the potato is exposed (shredded will be much shorter than whole potatoes).
- Drain your potatoes.
- Toss the potatoes with your favorite fat (bacon grease, duck, lard or coconut oil) and favorite herbs and/or spices.
- Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, depending on the thickness of your potatoes.
- Brine info:
- For a 1 liter vessel use 35 grams of salt
- a 1.5 liter vessel use 53 grams of salt
- a 2 liter vessel use 70 grams of salt
- a 3 liter vessel use 105 grams of salt
- 1 4 liter vessel use 140 grams of salt
- If you are using a fine grind salt like Himalayan pink salt it is approx. 5 grams of salt per teaspoon.
If you are interested in more great info and recipes like this, pick up a copy of ‘Lisa’s Counter Culture: Pickles and Other Well Bred Foods‘. The recipe for mayo in my potato salad was used from her book (with permission), and I learned how to soak my potatoes with the instructions found within as well. I am so glad to have this book as a resource as I navigate my way through finding recipes that work to ferment anaerobically, as well as having tips/guidelines to follow while I revamp my old recipes and create new ones. I can’t say enough good things about this ebook! Click here to visit LisasCounterCulture and purchase your copy today!