As soon as you peel the potatoes, you'll want to place them into a bowl of water so they're fully submerged, and then store the bowl of potatoes and water in the refrigerator. The water will seal off the potatoes from the air, so the chemical reaction can't occur.
How long can peeled and cut potatoes sit in water before cooking, before they begin taking on too much water? A: We usually recommend no more than 24 hours. You can keep the potatoes from absorbing the water by making sure the water is not salted, and is chilled (you can even add ice to the water).
If you're here, you'll probably be glad to know that yes, you can peel and cut potatoes the day before you plan to serve them — and that it's super easy! All you have to do is submerge the bare potato pieces in water and refrigerate (more on that later).
(If you decide to try soaking the raw potatoes anyway, they can be soaked in water in the refrigerator for several hours without any safety concerns. Potatoes can be soaked even overnight as long as they are in the refrigerator.)
Don't soak cut potatoes longer than overnight.
If keeping potatoes in water for more than an hour, refrigerate. However, don't soak them any longer than overnight—after that, the potatoes start to lose their structure and flavor.
Just be sure to store peeled potatoes in water for no more than 24 hours. After that, the cool refrigerator air will convert the starches in the potatoes to sugar, causing the flavor and texture of the spuds to change. Instead, just start cooking potatoes for a mash, potato salad, or hash browns.
Soaking potatoes in water helps remove excess starch. Excess starch can inhibit the potatoes from cooking evenly as well as creating a gummy or sticky texture on the outside of your potatoes. Cold water is used because hot water would react with the starch activating it, making it harder to separate from the potatoes.
Give them a cold water bath: Once your potatoes are chopped, toss them into a large bowl. Then cover the potatoes completely with cold water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight). This will help to rinse off the excess starch and help the potatoes crisp up beautifully in the oven.
Why use salt water for soaking potatoes? There's moisture naturally found in potatoes, and moisture is drawn to higher concentrations of salt. (This is a process called osmosis.) So, if you put the potatoes in a salt water bath, that will help draw out some of their moisture, resulting in crispier fries.
The boiling point
The most important part here is that you use cold water instead of boiled – if you boil the water first, the outside will cook faster than the inside resulting in an uneven texture. Cubed spuds will take around 15 minutes where larger chunks or whole new potatoes will be 20-25 minutes.
For most potato dishes it's important to add the potatoes to cold water and allow the water to come to a boil with the potatoes in the water. The potato starch can react as soon as it comes in contact with hot water, which will promote uneven cooking and mealy potatoes.
Cover the pot with a lid. Cook the potatoes in gently boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes for small red potatoes, new potatoes or cubed large russet potatoes, and 20 to 25 minutes for quartered potatoes.
In general cubed or small potatoes will take about 10 to 15 minutes to boil, while larger, whole potatoes will take between 20 to 25 minutes. To check potatoes for doneness, insert a knife into one. If it slides in without much effort, you're good to go!
Transfer the potatoes to a giant pot of water (cover the potatoes by at least an inch of water). Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender, then drain them. Once they're cool enough to touch, peel the potato skin from each side of the punctured line you created. And voilà — the skin will slide off effortlessly!
Cook on high to bring water to boiling, then reduce heat to low. Cover the pan with a lid and gently boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Check them with a fork for doneness. The potatoes should be tender when you press on them.
Regardless of what you've chosen to do with the peel, your potatoes will cook more quickly if you cut them up into chunks before boiling. They don't have to be super small, especially if you are going to be mashing them, but know that the smaller you cut the potatoes, the faster they will cook.
"Yes, it's good to prick them," Smith told Food52. "It pokes holes in the skin, which allows steam to escape. Otherwise, they could explode—it doesn't happen all the time, but it happens every once in a while.
But as long as more energy is being added to the water than is being lost with the vapor, the temperature will continue to rise until the water boils. Covering the pot prevents water vapor from escaping, enabling the temperature to rise more quickly.
“Salting the water not only seasons the potato, but it also allows it to boil to a hotter temperature. This in turn cooks the potatoes' starch more thoroughly, resulting in a more creamy texture [for mashed potatoes],” says Sieger Bayer, Chef and Partner at The Heritage.
Soak the uncooked potatoes for 30 minutes in an ice bath. They can soak longer, but you'll need to keep them in the fridge while they soak. Don't soak for longer than 3 hours.
Cold water boils faster than hot water.
There is, however, a good reason to use cold water instead of hot for cooking: hot water will contain more dissolved minerals from your pipes, which can give your food an off-flavor, particularly if you reduce the water a lot.
Boiling the potatoes in a salt and vinegar bath allows them to soak up all of that briny flavor before you dry them off and crisp them up in the oven. The result is a soft-in-the-center, crispy-on-the-outside potato that's loaded with flavor.
The additional step of allowing the peeled, washed and cut potatoes to soak in cold water removes excess potato starch from the outside. This will help with the crisping up of the potatoes when they bake or roast. Soaking the potatoes in cold water also prevents the potatoes from browning too fast when cooking.
A: Yes, you will lose nutrients if you soak potatoes in water; the longer they soak, the more you lose. Potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C and some B vitamins, and a portion of these water-soluble nutrients will leach into the water.