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Can I Prepare Potatoes to be Baked Ahead of Time?

Q:

I want to prepare some potatoes to be baked a few days ahead of time, is this possible? We oil and salt the potatoes, then wrap them in foil. Do I need to refrigerate the prepped (oiled and wrapped potatoes) to hold them for 2 or 3 days before cooking? 

A:

This reminds me of the old phrase, “You can’t get there from here.” As this is a situation that unfortunately offers no obvious solution. There are two issues at work here. One is raw potato refrigeration over a multi-day period. When stored too cold (below 42° F) for too long, the starches in potatoes convert to sugar, which negatively affects the cooking chemistry. If the transformation takes place (the time varies, but it can happen in as short as overnight cold storage) and when it occurs, the potato will have an overly-sweet flavor and the interior flesh will take on an un-appetizing gray or dark hue.  

The second issue is if the potatoes are washed and wrapped and NOT refrigerated. Once washed, potatoes often lose their natural protective qualities, as opposed to simply stored in a dry, dark and cool (not cold) location. Little breaks in the skin occur, inviting bacteria -and especially if kept wrapped will raise the temperature, which will only accelerate this potentially harmful environment.

Rather than chance any health problems in an attempt to save prep time later on, it’s best to wash and prepare potatoes just prior to cooking. Also, we always discourage baking potatoes in foil, as this prevents the moisture within to naturally escape, resulting in a more saturated or gummy interior. Here are a few related links to consider. A great question, one that raises several points!

https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato/how-to-store-idaho-potatoes#:~:text=Store%20Idaho%C2%AE%20potatoes%20in,resulting%20in%20a%20sweet%20taste.

https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato?s=food+safety

https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato/just-say-no-to-wrapping-potatoes-in-aluminum-foil