How To Soak Potatoes For Crispy, Golden Homemade Fries

French fries might be a fast food staple, but there's no reason you can't make them at home. Golden, delicious homemade fries are easy to make in big batches for parties or large family dinners, no matter if you like your potatoes wedged, julienned in classic matchsticks, or even crinkle-cut. 

One of the keys to making great French fries — and also one of the trickiest aspects — is getting them as crispy as possible. No one likes a soggy fry, and getting the perfect crunch can be a challenge. Restaurants use special fryers and other equipment to make perfect fries, but since you can only use the standard appliances you have at home, you'll need to do some careful prep work to ensure crispness. Whether you deep-fry them, air-fry them, or bake them in the oven, you should first soak your fries in water. 

Once you've peeled and cut your potatoes, submerge your fries in a bowl of cold water. This will help the potatoes to release some of their starches, which can be further rinsed off under running water after soaking. Getting rid of excess starch can prevent the fries from turning mushy. It's the same reasoning behind why you should wash rice before cooking, as both rice and potatoes contain lots of starches that can be helpful in some recipes, but need to be minimized in others. How much starch is removed can play a big role in the final texture of the dish.

Tips for the best fries

Too much starch will prevent your potatoes from getting crispy, so you will want to soak your fries in cold water for at least a couple of hours, but not longer than a day. Don't use hot water, which will activate the starches, or salted water, which will cause the potatoes to absorb the water. The best potatoes to use for making homemade fries are either russet potatoes or Idaho potatoes. Both varieties are low in moisture and high in starch, making them easier to crisp up than waxy potatoes like Yukon Golds, which can turn out soggy. Excess starch may be a problem, but the right amount of starch in your fries ensures that they turn out fluffy on the inside. 

The most popular oil used for frying potatoes is peanut oil, which has a high smoke point. You need to keep the fries in bubbling hot oil for a few minutes, so you don't want to use an oil that will start smoking and burning when kept at a high temperature. If you really want to commit to the crisp, you can also double fry your spuds. Give them a minute in hot oil, then leave them to cool for around thirty minutes, followed by a final dip in the fryer. It might sound like a lot of work, but you won't regret it if you want that restaurant-quality taste.