Crunchy and crispy, with a touch of salt, potato chips are a wonderful addition to a barbecue and a perfect snack for an afternoon. Making potato chips at home can be a great experience and allows for the freshest chips possible. Finding the perfect potato is about more than just the size, you have to take into account the type and quality of the potato as well.
The Perfect Potato
Potato chips are best made from the Solanum tuberosum species. In the grocery store, they are known as baking potatoes. These potatoes are largest and make the largest sliced potato chips.
Pick potatoes that are fresh from the grocery store, not just ones that are sitting in your pantry. The older a potato is, the more fructose and glucose buildup it has, which causes the chips to be be brown when they are cooked. Pick potatoes that are not sprouting, as these parts of the potato are not good for making into potato chips. When the potato is old enough to be sprouting, the internal starches in the potato are changing and that means that the potato chips will have an altered taste.
After the potatoes are evenly sliced, make sure the the potatoes are soaked thoroughly. This washes away much of the starches and helps increase the crispiness when frying the potato chips.
Tools For Making Potato Chips
Potato chips are known for their thin and crunchy shape, and this can be hard to do by hand. Purchasing a mandolin at your local kitchen supply store can save time in the kitchen. Another option for slicing the potatoes is to use a food processor with the slicing attachment. These might be thicker chips, but they will all be uniform as well.
When rinsing and soaking the potatoes, use a ceramic or plastic bowl. Using a metal bowl may cause a slightly metallic taste to form in the water and the potatoes.
Depending on the method being used in your potato chip recipe, you'll either need a deep fat fryer or an oven baking sheet. For the fryer, make sure to use one that has a deep well. This will allow more room for any bubbles to break before coming out of the top of the fryer and spraying either you or the kitchen. For the baking sheet, a nonstick or well-coated type is preferred. This will help prevent any chips from sticking to the pan after baking.
Choosing the Right Potato Chip Recipe
Potato chips can either be fried with a deep fat fryer or baked on a sheet in the oven. Both of these techniques have different results. The chips from the fryer are going to be more generously coated with oil because they were submerged in it but will also be cooked at a higher speed than those in the oven. Oven chips will have less oil on them because it has the ability to roll off of the chip and onto the cooking sheet instead. However, oven chips may take a longer time to be finished.
Spices for Different Potatoes
The baking potato is the most common potato to be used for making potato chips, but other potatoes may be used as well. Each one will create a different type of flavor, and you may want to augment that flavor with spices.
Russet potatoes are usually flavored with butter and salt. Yukon Gold potatoes have a milder flavor and benefit from seasonings that have a little more vigor, such as cumin, paprika or mustard. Fingerling potatoes tend to have a more buttery and creamy texture to begin with, so adding spices that complement butter, such as garlic or onion powder, is a good idea. Red potatoes tend to have a much sweeter taste than other potatoes; adding a milder flavor, such as basil or oregano, will keep the potato chip from becoming overpowering.