Latke lovers and diner customers know the importance of shredded potatoes. Thin, grated pieces of potato quickly cook through and turn brown and crunchy in dishes including latkes and hash browns. You can use a simple box grater or your food processor to turn potatoes to shreds in just a few minutes.
While you can shred any variety of potato, spuds that have a high starch content work best. Starchy shreds cling together and easily brown, making cohesive and tasty potato pancakes and hash browns. Look for russet potatoes or any variety referred to as baking potatoes. Sweet potatoes also can be shredded easily.
Scrub the potatoes under running water and inspect them for any soft spots or blemishes that need to be cut away. Peeling isn’t necessary, and keeping the peels on gives dishes additional fiber and extra potato flavor. You may remove the peels if you prefer shreds uniform in color and texture, or if you’re concerned there are bruises under the peel.
Tools and Techniques
Don a cut-resistant kitchen glove and shred the potatoes using a box grater, or do the job faster and use a food processor and its grating attachment. You may need to cut the potatoes into large chunks when using the food processor. If you have neither a grater nor processor, you can cut the potatoes using a mandolin slicer that has a julienne attachment, but the resulting pieces look more like small sticks than flat shreds. Another rather time-consuming option is to cut the potatoes into chunks and run them through a spiralizer; slice the resulting long shreds into short pieces.
Soak and Squeeze
If you’re not using the shreds immediately, transfer them to a bowl of cold water to prevent them from turning pink or brown. Adding a squirt of lemon juice or white vinegar to the water prevents oxidation but may slightly affect the flavor of the potatoes. Whether or not you soak the shreds, squeeze out excess water to help the potatoes brown during cooking. Wrap the pieces in cheesecloth, a thin kitchen towel or a paper towel and squeeze the bundle until it stops dripping water.
Use shredded potatoes to make latkes, which are traditionally served with sour cream or applesauce and eaten in celebration of Hanukkah, or cook them with onions to make hash browns. Fry them with chopped corned beef and top the mixture with scrambled or poached eggs to make corned beef hash. Shredded potatoes may be used in simple casserole dishes or fried and sprinkled over a bowl of chicken or potato soup. You can even use them in place of a traditional pizza crust. Mix the shreds with egg and pat them into a rimmed pizza pan. Bake the crust until it’s starting to brown, which takes about 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then add toppings and return it to the oven until the cheese melts.
References and ResourcesFine Cooking: Picking the Perfect Potato to Mash, Bake or Boil
Idaho Potato Commission: Oxidizing Potatoes