Did you know that you can buy frozen mashed potato? I didn't before last weekend, and I must admit when I first found out I was actually in disbelief. Why the hell would you bother buying frozen mashed potato? I was completely amazed by this discovery.
My initial reaction was, yup here is another product on the market to supposedly make the working woman/man's life easier, one that to be honest we really don't need. But seriously, how hard is it to make mashed potatoes? How much time do you actually save? Are you sacrificing taste?
I put a comment on my Facebook status and this drew a few comments, there were also a few comments on a friend's profile regarding the same thing (that is actually how I found about this stuff). I Google frozen mashed potatoes to see what I could find out. Various chat boards were filled with comments along the lines of buy "X" or "Y" brand, "they taste great" and "saves me from peeling and mashing potatoes".
General consensus was that people don't like peeling or mashing potatoes. Again I found this a little confusing for my brain to process as I find a sharp knife and vege peeler has the job done in no time. I also find it relieving after a stressful day to de-stress on the poor old humble spud by smashing it senseless.
I decided if I was going to have an opinion it should be an educated one. So off to the supermarket I went and picked up a packet of frozen mashed potatoes to try. I decided to put them to the test and also to make a batch of homemade mash too.
I enlisted Josh to taste test with me, ignoring his groans of "do I have to eat the frozen stuff" and telling him it could be fantastic, keep an open mind.
Sara's Mashed Potatoes
(Note I didn’t use all the butter in the picture!)
I prepared 300gms of potato.
They took 22 minutes 6 seconds to prepare which initially sounds like a long time, but for 17 minutes of that time the potatoes were on the stove cooking. During this time, under normal circumstances, I would be preparing the rest of the meal (this time I continued with work emails). Dinner would be ready to put on the table when the potatoes were done. Dinner on the table under 30 minutes, that isn't too bad. In reality it was 5 minutes hands on preparation of the mash which consisted of peeling, chopping and pushing the cooked potatoes through a fine sieve.
Energy content: 542Kj/100gms
Potato ratio: 92%
Butter/milk ratio: 8%
Salt: 2t added to water when cooking
Cost: 100g = $0.31
Oh happy days, all my products used were sourced from NSW, that makes me smile. Nice carbon footprint and supporting our local farmers.
Frozen Mashed Potatoes
(Extruded Frozen Mash Rods – covered in white powder & small ice crystals)
On the packet it states you can either cook them in a pot on the stove, bake them in the oven or microwave them. I tried two ways, stovetop and microwave. In both cases I prepared 200g from the packet.
Stove top took 8.15 minutes to cook. You have to do it over a low heat and continuously stir, scrape bottom of the pot and beat, definitely not the way to go as it is time consuming.
Microwave: took 2.34 minutes until they were ready to serve. This is definitely the way to go if you were using this product. Obviously the time would be longer for larger quantities.
Energy content: 470Kj/100gms
Potato ratio: 76%
Milk/Cream/Water ratio: 23%
Salt & Pepper: 1%
Cost: 100g = $0.44
Sadly this product comes from Belgium.
I was surprised to find out that there were more Kj's in my mash. I attribute this to the fact that there is more potato, less liquid and probably more butter (I used the real stuff for this experiment) per 100g. Taste wise the homemade tasted like potato, was creamy and had a smooth texture.
· Use of local product
· No packaging
· Minimal carbon footprint
· Superior taste
· Lower in salt
· Potatoes keep well in a dark pantry until required, so they can always be on hand
Sorry can't think of any, dinner is still on the table in under 30 minutes. Unless the rest of your meal was a pre-made meal that you were microwaving or had picked up from the supermarket etc, then homemade mash probably would take longer than the rest of the meal.
Hands on time for cooking: 5 minutes (17 on stove top unattended and I was free to do other things)
(Microwaved Frozen Mash)
I found cooking it on the stove top time consuming as it had to be watched and tended to the whole time. Microwave is the way to go. Texture wise it is smooth and the taste wasn't too bad, I will be honest, it was a lot better than I expected.
Even though there isn't any additives listed on the pack it does have a slight artificial taste, how and why I don't know, probably due to the manufacture process. It doesn't have that nice potato taste of homemade mash. It is extremely salty, both Josh and I noticed this straight away.
When they are still in frozen state I find the extruded rods very unappealing and there is a slight funky smell (this goes once they are cooked). They also seem to be covered in a white powder, what that is I have no idea, but I presume it is to stop the frozen rods sticking together.
· Quick to nuke in the microwave
· Can be kept in freezer until needed
· The product is imported from Belgium and our hard working potato farmers don't benefit
· Carbon footprint is massive. Think about it, this stuff is produced in a factory in Belgium, extruded in to rods and then snap frozen. It then has to get right around the world in a frozen state to Australia
· Tastes higher in salt
· No end of day frustration taken out on potatoes when mashing
· Packaging (an extra plastic bag the world can do without)
· More expensive than making it yourself
Hands on time cooking: 8 minutes on stovetop continuously attending or 2.34 minutes (for 200g) in microwave looking, opening door, stirring etc.
(L – R: Stove Top Frozen Mash, Sara’s Mash, Microwaved Frozen Mash)
I will admit that when I heard of frozen mashed potato I automatically thought of Jamie Oliver and his series on American family eating habits and children's knowledge of food (or extreme lack of). The movie Food Inc also sprang to my mind.
Would I buy it again? No.
I can now safely say, frozen mashed potato, why on earth would you bother? In reality you are only saving 2.26 minutes (if you utilize your time and don't stand there watching a pot of water boil), it is more expensive, less environmentally friendly and (in my opinion) does not taste anywhere a delicious as mashed potatoes made at home.
If you do like the idea of having frozen on hand to whip out of the freezer, why not have a go at freezing your own? Make up extra next time you make mash. Shape in to round patties and freeze on a lined baking tray. When frozen place rounds in a zip lock bag so you can pull out the portions as you need. Replenish your stock when you make mash from scratch again.
Just food for thought.