Hooray! Simple Lives Thursday, and another great way to save a few pennies with a simple, basic investment of a little time and effort.
Every summer and fall – as long as we’ve lived here – a group of gleaners has come through and asked permission to glean the leftovers from our blackberry bushes, pear trees, and garden. We’ve always been happy to oblige.
Some months ago one of the gleaners stopped by. I assumed he was coming to buy eggs – we get a lot of people dropping by to buy eggs. Instead, he came to ask if he could gift us with something. He wanted to know if our girls (i.e., the chickens) would like to have the “leftovers” of their gleanings. It would typically involve produce that was still not really bad, just not as pretty as you would typically see at the grocery store. He mentioned there’d be a lot of greens. The girls LOVE greens. I said, “Yes! Of course, we’d love to receive those!”
Since that time, at least once a week he drops by a box – or four! – of gleanings that the girls have great delight in greedily consuming. Sometimes, however we are the happy recipients. Like a few weeks ago – when I was canning beans – and he had some lovely yams and several cantaloupes (the best I’ve tasted in years!) for us. In return, I share eggs with him now and then.
This past week he dropped by a box that had quite a few perfectly lovely potatoes in it – and I simply couldn’t bring myself to do anything but find a way to work them up and put them to good use!
It’s a lovely mixture of red potatoes, white potatoes, and Yukon gold potatoes. What a blessing!
At first I thought I might pressure can them. But then I thought about the fact that – in reality – we don’t really use canned potatoes – ever.
One thing we DO use a lot of, though, is hash browns. Have I ever mentioned how fabulous, genius, or absolutely amazing my husband is? ‘Cause if I haven’t lately – he is – all of those things. And one of the things that everyone looks forward to every Sunday morning is the great breakfast John makes for us. It always includes hash browns, fresh scrambled and cheesy eggs, as well as bacon or sausage or ham. Yummy.
So, I determined to turn my box of bonus potatoes into hash browns for the freezer. And why the heck not? The large bag of them we buy at the grocery store runs us close to $5. Free hash browns will – without a doubt – taste all the better! Right?! Right!
And honestly, it’s a breeze to go from box of potatoes to bags of hash browns for the freezer.
I gathered my food processor, my ridiculously large mixing bowl and cake pan (both featuring prominently when I recently made granola), a cutting board, a potato peeler, a knife, a bowl, and a colander.
And then I jumped right in – peeling potatoes.
You might think me slightly deranged, but I actually enjoy peeling potatoes. So this task was not at all dreaded by myself. I just put on some good music and set to work. I should also interject here that having a potato peeler that you love does help considerably. I love mine. It’s old, it’s rusty, and not very pretty. In fact, some years ago certain individuals who shall remain nameless determined that I needed a newer, prettier, fancier potato peeler. Didn’t like it. So they tried again. Didn’t like the next one either. They tried hiding my favorite potato peeler. I went out and bought another one just like it. They gave up and now I have TWO of the good potato peelers – and that makes me smile. 🙂
Okay – peeled the potatoes…
…lots of potatoes. And amazingly – out of all of those potatoes – only one was bad – and only a portion of it was. I’ve had worse outcomes on potatoes I’ve paid a premium for!
It’s important to note here that you want to keep these potatoes in cold water. In fact, they need to stay covered in cold water. I left the water trickling over them and rotated the potatoes so that the newest additions got submerged.
Once they were all peeled and had soaked in the cold water for at least 5 minutes, I transferred them to a bowl – well, best as I could, there were really too many for the bowl, so a few had to wait their turn.
Being the hash brown loving kid that he is, BiL decided to help out.
He’s male. There’s a power tool involved. And his favorite potato dish factored in. He was thrilled to help!
Looks proud of his work, doesn’t he?
Once potatoes were shredded, they got transferred to the now empty ridiculously large mixing bowl.
Once again, run cold water over them. The great thing about this bowl is that it doesn’t really quite fit in the sink – it just balances, and is suspended a bit. It works out beautifully for this task, as the weight of the water allows it to tip just a teensy bit to allow the starchy-water to escape.
I made sure to sink my hands in there ever few minutes to make sure that the cool water gets to completely circulate over every surface of potato.
After about 10 minutes of rinsing, I transferred the washed, shredded potatoes to a paper towel-lined colander, set in a bowl:
Aren’t they pretty?
After about ten minutes of sitting in the paper towel-lined colander sitting in the bowl, I transferred the potatoes to my cake pan – also lined with paper towels – four layers of paper towels:
Two loads of shreds fit into the pan – just barely. I left them for about 20 minutes to dry out some.
At the conclusion of that 20 minutes, I pulled out my kitchen scale and aimed to get about 3 pounds of hash browns into each bag.
All tolled 16 pounds 13 ounces of shredded potatoes. Five bags of about 3 pounds-ish, and one with 1 pound 11 ounces.
Enough for several months of fabulous Sunday breakfast hash browns!
Cost: potatoes – free; 6 gallon-sized ziplock bags
Saved: about $15.00
Not bad for a little investment of time!