Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Make Frozen French Fries at Home

Although they aren't the healthiest of foods, I think just about everyone likes to eat french fries now and then.  Really good fries require cooking not once, but twice, or even three times, to end up fluffy inside and crispy outside.  In other words, making them from fresh potatoes is time consuming, and shoppers often turn to frozen fries from the store instead.

In this post I'll show you how I make homemade fries in bulk to freeze to for future meals.  They are still time-consuming, but I'd rather make up a bunch of them once than to have to go through the whole process every time I want to serve fries.

This method starts out with 10-pounds of unpeeled potatoes.  By the time they are peeled, blanched and par-fried, the result is about 6 pounds of french fries to put in the freezer.

How to Make Frozen French Fries


Very large stock pot (I used my pressure canner without its lid)
Potato peeler or paring knife
Chef's knife or french fry cutting gadget such as this Le Presse - (garage sale, $5)
Cookie sheets and cooling racks
Large strainer or colander
Deep fryer
Plain brown paper bags, parchment paper or paper towels (paper bags work best)
Zippered freezer bags


10 pounds large baking potatoes (russets or Yukon golds work well)
5 quarts of cold water
1/4 cup sugar
2 to 4 Tablespoons salt (we like to use at least 3 Tablespoons)
Oil for your fryer (we prefer peanut oil for flavor, ease of cleanup and reduced frying odor in the air)

Make brine by placing 5 quarts of water, along with sugar and salt, in large stock pot and stir until sugar and salt dissolve.  (The sugar makes the fries brown better, the salt makes them taste better.) Set pot on burner of stove.

Peel potatoes and using either knife or fry cutter, cut into long fries about 3/8-inch square.  Place fries into brine as you cut them.  Once all potatoes are cut, let sit in brine for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place cooling racks inside cookie sheets.  You'll need several.  I used 4 half-sheet pans. 

Pour peanut oil into fryer per manufacturer's instructions, but do not turn on yet.

Once fries have brined for 10 minutes, turn on heat under the pot to high.  Blanche fries by bringing them just to a boil, removing from heat just as the first big bubbles appear in the center of the pot (there will be small bubbles around the edge before the bigger ones appear).  The goal is to just barely cook the fries.  They should still be quite rigid after they have been blanched.  Place colander in sink and carefully drain potatoes.  If your pot is too large to lift and drain safely, scoop potatoes out into a large bowl using a slotted spoon.

Carefully place blanched fries on cooling racks in cookie sheets.  By the time you have the sheets filled, if you have more potatoes, you can lift the racks off the sheets and place remaining fries onto the sheets.  Once they have cooled this much, they won't stick to the surface.  Allow fries to cool completely.  Set one empty cookie sheet aside.

Fries cooling after being blanched.

Meanwhile, heat oil to 375°F.  Line the cookie sheet you set aside with brown paper, parchment paper or paper towels, and have more liners ready for the other cookie sheets as they become available.

When oil is hot, fry french fries in batches according to your fryer's instructions.  Do not overfill fryer basket (trust me on this).  Fry each batch for exactly 2 minutes.  Lift basket, allow to drain for a couple of minutes, then turn fries out onto cookie sheet lined with paper.  The fries will not be brown, but will have a very light, protective crust on the outside.  If you eat one a this point, it may be close to cooked inside, but will be heavy and waxy instead of light and fluffy.

Fries draining on brown paper after having been fried the first time.

Continue to fry french fries in batches as the previous batches cool.  Drain all of them well on brown paper and allow them to cool completely.  Once cool, no need to flash-freeze.  Just bag them into zipper bags and freeze.

To cook and serve these fries, you can:

1) Heat fryer to 375°F.  Add frozen fries to fryer basket (do not overfill) and carefully lower basket into hot oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 6 minutes.

2) Heat oven to 425°F.  Place frozen fries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until desired brown crispiness is reached, flipping fries once during the cooking time.

Personally, I think frying is both tastier and quicker, but you decide for yourself.

Finished fries are light and fluffy inside.

So, there you go.  Frozen fries at home.  They're a little bit of work on the front end, but they pay off big when you're ready to serve some burgers or sandwiches on a busy weeknight. 

They're a bargain, too.  Even if you don't have a friend to give you potatoes like I did, you can sometimes find potatoes at the store for as little as $1-$2 for 10 pounds.  So 10 pounds of potatoes become 6 pounds of fries for $2 or less.  A 2-pound bag of store brand french fries is about $1.50, with national brands being even higher.  The amount saved?  Well -- it's no small potatoes.
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