Comments on: The Quest for French Fry Supremacy 2: Blanching Armageddon The International Culinary Center's Tech 'N Stuff Blog Thu, 09 Jan 2014 18:17:16 +0000 hourly 1 By: Sal Wed, 27 Apr 2011 16:33:14 +0000 Been endeavoring to produce an excellent fry for years.
The quest has proved to be impossible. I’ve produced good fries, but never excellent fries.

The 1960’s era McDonald’s fries when McDonald’s produced the fries in-house are the standard by which excellent fries should be measured.

Not to demean your extensive efforts to produce the perfect french fry, but McDonald’s did not blanch their fries in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Doing so would seem counter-productive since McDonald’s specified the highest starch content possible as measured by specific gravity.
Boiling in water pulls lots of starch out of the potato which would seem to defeat seeking out the highest specific gravity russet potato.

Ray Kroc establishing his first restaurant in Illinois had serious problems duplicating the same fry quality as the sellers the McDonald brothers had in California.
Kroc discovered conditioning of the potato to be a vital component of a great french fry.
He set up conditioning rooms in the basements with fans to allow the potatoes 3 weeks time to convert sugars built up in cold storage to convert back into starch.

Kroc fried twice in a 94% beef tallow/ 6% cottonseed oil mix , once blanching at 300 degrees then frying at 350 degrees.

The possible reason I have never achieved the “perfect fry” is that I can not obtain the same high specific gravity russet in the marketplace.
Why I say this, I give this example:
Using the fry twice method in rendered beef suet, fries from different potatoes in a batch would result in part “perfect fries” and part soggy unacceptable fries.
This has happened often enough that the observation is that it’s not a variation in one potato, but the variation is from different potatoes. One will produce a great fry, another from the same bag or box will not.

While the frying method is undoubtedly important, my endeavors has lead me to conclude the fry quality of the potato itself and if it has been properly conditioned is probably the most important factor in the search for the “perfect fry”
I tried your method of boiling (in a 40 quart steam kettle) some 9/32″ cut fries (same as McDonald’s) for 5 minutes, then drying and pre-frying at 300 degrees for 2:30 minutes, then later finishing them at 350 degrees.
The additional boiling brought no new attributes to my fries, they were the same as they generally are, good but not great.

Right now I am evaporating the water from the boiling to measure the amount of starch pulled out of the potatoes.

Looking forward to your third installment of this series where you intend to evaluate the importance of potato variety, specific gravity and the effects of conditioning.

By: davearnold Wed, 13 Apr 2011 17:49:12 +0000 Hello Davide,
I haven’t adequately tested different frying regimens. From experience I feel the first fry shouldn’t be too hot, because you need to develop the crust as well as partially dehydrate the potato without browning; but the oil temperature can be significantly higher than it would be in a no-blanch fry because it isn’t necessary to cook the potato in the frying process. The second fry is not only a coloring step but a dehydrating and crisping step, so I’m pretty sure you can’t skimp on it too much.

By: Davide Sun, 13 Mar 2011 21:34:13 +0000 HI, great post as usual!
I was wondering if you tried different combination of oil temperature and time, eg. 1st fry ad 130C and 2nd at 180C, or 1st at 160C and 2nd at 190C…
In your opinion is it better to fry more in the first fry (without browning) and just let the second fry do a little coloring, or is it better keep the first fry as gentle as possible and let the second fry do the majority of work?

By: davearnold Fri, 11 Mar 2011 01:51:30 +0000 Hello Duc, I’ll Ask Nastassia.

By: duc Fri, 04 Mar 2011 08:07:56 +0000 Great tips, the first french fries receipe really tested and proven with scientific facts ! I am french and have never found things like this in France. Hervé This does something like you but not as friendly, popular and widely spread like this.
Do you still have Pectinex SP-L? I ‘ve sent a paypal payment to Nastassia but got no reply.

By: Blanching Sun, 30 Jan 2011 17:53:29 +0000 Great tips you have here, they are all good and true.

By: davearnold Fri, 28 Jan 2011 13:58:47 +0000 Better luck this year John!

By: John Wed, 26 Jan 2011 21:11:34 +0000 I grew Kennebecs last summer, and — although I didn’t fry any of them — they were indeed delicious right out of the ground. My problem was that my potato plants all got blight and died, so I had to cook and eat what I did get ASAP. Heartbreaking, especially if you’re in the least bit Irish.

By: davearnold Tue, 25 Jan 2011 00:58:21 +0000 We did do some blanching in the bag but we didn’t get any results we really liked. I’m anxious to try the myhrvold/young method that uses an ultrasonic bath.

By: David G. Tue, 25 Jan 2011 00:01:43 +0000 Thanks, Dave. I guess I’ll just Paypal the money to her account and include my shipping info. Can’t wait!

The one thing I’m a little surprised you guys didn’t try out was higher frying temperatures (like, borderline-dangerous temps). Recently I’ve tried frying in the low 400’s, as close as I can get to peanut oil’s smoke point (I converted to peanut oil some time back since I was trying to replicate the Les Halles/Bourdain cookbook fries). With some oils you could safely get pretty close to 500 degrees. It seems that you would be able to fry more quickly, get a lovely crispiness and minimize oil absorption.

Also, I was a bit surprised that y’all didn’t give a sous vide step a try somewhere in the process. I know a few others have tried it.