The Ice Bath Hack To Peel Potatoes In Record Time

Peeling potatoes isn't complicated by any means, and home cooks don't have to prepare as many spuds as a restaurant chef might, but even peeling a five-pound bag can be a messy, time-consuming chore. Luckily, there are ways to make the task easier. The next time you make boiled, mashed, or crispy fried potatoes, you can forget your vegetable peeler, because there's a simple potato peeling hack that only requires kitchen shears and an ice bath. 

As seen on social media platforms like Instagram, this trick involves scoring whole potatoes around the middle using kitchen shears or a paring knife, forming a shallow cut in the skin. Drop the potatoes into boiling water and cook them until tender. Just before they're done cooking, fill a large bowl or stock pot big enough to hold the potatoes with cold water and plenty of ice. 

Use a slotted spoon or spider skimmer to transfer the potatoes to the ice bath and keep them there until they're cool enough to handle, which should take less than one minute. The drastic temperature difference will cause the skin to shrink, enabling you to grab each half of the potato and effortlessly pull the skin off in two large pieces. The cooked potato can them be mashed or sliced for use in your favorite recipes.

Tips for using the ice water hack

Shocking food in ice water isn't a new concept, but using it on potatoes is a revelation to many. While social media videos use a variety of potatoes for this hack, russet potatoes work best, since their thicker skin is easier to peel once shocked. To ensure the peel comes off in a few large pieces, score the potato entirely around the middle, but don't cut too deep. You don't want to waterlog the flesh of potatoes so it turns soggy and falls apart. 

When preparing the ice bath, ensure that there's plenty of room in the bowl, so the ice can fully surround the potatoes and cool them down quickly. Avoid preparing the bath too far in advance, since the ice will start to melt and this technique won't be as effective. Unless you're making a cold dish like potato salad, you should remove the potatoes quickly from the ice water so the insides stay warm. If you need to reheat the boiled potatoes, throw them back into the cooking water for a minute. 

How to use your peeled potatoes

The obvious use for this ice bath hack is to make mashed potatoes, but other potato recipes will also benefit from a parboiling step. Pan-fried and roasted potatoes develop a better crunchy crust when boiled first. While you can leave the skin on for roasted potatoes, removing it increases the flesh's surface area in contact with the hot pan, making the spuds crispier. You'll also notice a starchy film on boiled potatoes. When that layer is coated in fat and cooked at a high temperature, it develops a delicious crust. Your roasted potatoes will be crispy outside and tender inside, reminiscent of fried potatoes without all the oil.  

This trick can also improve our patatas bravas recipe. After boiling and peeling the potatoes, chop them into pieces and place them in a mixing bowl with olive oil and spices. Roughly combine all the ingredients, further breaking down the exterior so each piece is coated in a starchy layer. While the potatoes roast in the oven, prepare a smoky aioli to finish the dish. For amazing home fries, sauté onions, peppers, and garlic in olive oil while the potatoes boil. Peel and dice the potatoes before adding them to a hot skillet with the aromatics and cook until golden brown.