The recipe for perfect potatoes

Written by Jenny Straiton

This Thanksgiving, use science to create the creamiest mashed potatoes without the butter.

Mashed potatoes without butter.

A staple of the Thanksgiving dinner, everyone has an opinion of the best way to make mashed potatoes. With so many methods flying around, Dario Bressanini of The University of Insubria (Como, Italy) turned to science to finally determine the key to perfect potatoes.

The secret to creating creamy potatoes without butter is cooking them twice says Bressanini in a recent interview for Science. Cook them with the skin on at 167–176°F, allow them to cool and then cook again at 194°F.

The first cooking period activates the enzymes that can separate the individual cells without breaking the starch within, broken starch granules would become sticky and result in gooey potatoes. The second cook makes them easier to digest. At the high temperature the starch granules lose structure which makes them easier for us to digest them.

Mashing should be done by hand and with a fork, preventing the breakage of cells. Intact cells that are free to flow over each other create a lubricant effect, similar to that created by the fats in butter.