Freeze dried food is a great way to preserve food that you would otherwise can or put in the freezer. It saves time and room, and makes meal time super quick! Learn how to freeze dry mashed potatoes for your own instant mashed potatoes that are shelf stable!
Last fall I purchased a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and it was the best decision that only took me 9 years to make! I wish that I had purchased it way sooner, but better late than never!
Now that I do have my own freeze dryer, I run it all the time. One of our favorite dishes to freeze dry is homemade mashed potatoes. This makes them shelf stable and all you have to do to rehydrate them is to add a little hot water!
Instant mashed potatoes from the store is all my grandmother ever made, and my mom too. It wasn't until my mom switched to scratch mashed potatoes when I was about 15 that I finally had the real thing.
And once you have real homemade country style mashed potatoes, you'll never go back!
Normally, I make our mashed potatoes and just freeze them in bulk. But with all the things I love to freeze I was starting to run out of freezer space!
So last fall I decided to experiment with freeze dried mashed potatoes. I was concerned that the taste and texture would be altered during the process, but I wanted to try.
Much to my joy and relief, the mashed potatoes are completely indistinguishable from fresh mashed potatoes! You can even see my rehydrating them in the video below (at about 6:33 mark).
How to Make Freeze Dried Mashed Potatoes
While the freeze dryer makes it crazy easy to process food (like, just push the button and the machine does the rest) there are a few things you can do to make it easier for the freeze drying machine to dry the mashed potatoes.
- Make your favorite mashed potato recipe the day before you want to freeze dry them and put them in the fridge to get cold.
- Crumble the cold mashed potatoes onto the freeze drying trays. No more than 1 pound of potatoes per tray.
- Don't tightly pack and spread warm mashed potatoes. The dense nature of the dish will keep the freeze dryer from full extracting all of the water.As you can see above, I tried it this way and ended up having to process it twice. I do not recommend this method!
- Never process more than a total of 5 pounds per batch. Any more than that will cause an ice build-up inside the freeze drying machine that will stop the process from working.
- Test the finished mashed potatoes by trying to crumble the thickest piece you can find. If it crumbles easily, then you can shut down the machine and store the freeze dried food.
- If during the testing process you find there are still layers of ice in the potatoes, place the mashed potatoes back in the freeze dryer and select "add more time" on the machine screen.
- If you don't realize the potatoes still have ice until after the machine is off, place them in the freezer, drain and filter the freeze dryer oil, and prep it for another complete cycle. Once it's prepped and defrosted, remove the frozen mashed potatoes and process them again.
Storing Your Freeze Dried Mashed Potatoes
Once you have successfully freeze dried your mashed potatoes successfully, store them in an air tight container (we use these zip-top mylar bags) with an oxygen absorber and moisture absorber for best freshness.
You can also store them in a mason jar or hinge top jar, just be sure to include an oxygen absorber and moisture absorber.
Rehydrating Freeze Dried Mashed Potatoes
If you've ever made instant mashed potatoes then this process will be familiar to you.
- Heat 1/4-1/2 a cup of water per 1 cup of freeze dried mashed potatoes. Water should be steaming but not boiling.
- Drizzle water over mashed potatoes (in a bowl) and stir until potatoes reach the desired consistency.
- DO NOT add mashed potatoes to hot water over heat.
You can also rehydrate with warm milk if you prefer for an extra creamy mashed potato experience, but since we use milk in the original mashed potato recipe, we opt for water.
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Freeze Dried Mashed Potato FAQ
How long do these keep on the shelf?
If stored properly as outlined above, then your freeze dried mashed potatoes should last up to 25 years!
How long does the freeze drying process take?
Though it varies by batch, I've found that it takes between 25-35 hours per batch.
The first 9 hours is the freezing process, so the machine is completely silent. The rest is when the machine is actually running and you will be able to hear the hum of the machine.
Can I make any mashed potato recipe I want?
YES! If you like to add sour cream, cream cheese, shredded cheese, ham bits, bacon and chives, or any combination of those things you can still freeze dry your mashed potatoes!
Don't have a Freeze Dryer?
Read all about my experience with my Harvest Right Freeze Dryer! I have had it since fall of 2018 and it runs pretty much non-stop. I love it!