We all know that mashed potatoes made with normal potatoes can be stuffed inside freezer safe containers and frozen for up to 1 year, and even mashed potatoes made the instant way, but can mashed sweet potatoes (having sweet potatoes as the main potatoes) be kept inside the freezer to store?
This article explains what freezing does to mashed sweet potatoes, how you can properly package and freeze them and also how to defrost mashed sweet potato after freezing.
Freezing mashed sweet potato
Mashed sweet potatoes can be frozen actually, but how well it freezes depends on the constituents.
Mashed sweet potatoes that contain dairy products such as cream and milk might not freeze well (and for as long) compared to those that do not contain such ingredients.
The reason is because dairy itself does not hold up flavor when frozen for an extended duration.
When freezing mashed potatoes that are going to be made with dairy, the best choice for dairy is one that contains a heavy amount of fat, for instance, heavy cream which on a normal day contains at least 40% fat. The heavy fat content of the cream allows the diary to freeze and still maintain flavor.
Another option is milk itself, but this time around, milk that has high fat content in it such as the whole milk.
How do you freeze sweet mashed potatoes?
When it comes to the actual procedure you should follow in order to properly freeze mashed sweet potatoes, here it is.
First make sure the mashed sweet potatoes have not sat for longer than 2 hours on the countertop, or at ambient temperatures: 1 hour if the temperature is above 90F..
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends so because many species and types of bacteria breed the fastest at room temperature which is typically between 40°F and 140°F. Such temperature is what sets apart refrigeration and piping hot food.
When you have sweet mashed potatoes sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, then it’s possible to have spoilage bacteria spores deposited in the mashed potatoes as well as those for pathogenic bacteria.
Spoilage bacteria will cause food to go bad and become inedible: with visible signs like sliminess, microbial growth, and stench. Food pathogens on the other hand, will cause food borne illness when consumed, and their activities inside a sweet mashed potato will not be seen.
The latter, pathogenic bacteria, is actually the reason why you should not eat sweet mashed potatoes that have sat outside for longer than 2 hours, especially when not covered properly and the ambient temperature is high.
So after bringing down your piping hot pot of sweet mashed potatoes from the stovetop and apportioning servings, the leftover should be cooled as quickly as possible and stuffed inside the refrigerator or be frozen.
There is a technique for cooling foods like mashed potatoes quickly within two hours.
The method is as follows:
Transfer the leftover mashed potatoes into plastic containers that have a shallow bottom, and dip the shallow bottom into iced water or normal tap water and allow it to sit for about 15 to 20 minutes.
As the bottom of the container sits in the water, make sure to give the contents a good stir in order to release as much heat as possible from the potatoes and make it cool faster.
When you’re done cooling the mashed potatoes, transfer them into a freezer safe plastic bag, add a second layer of protection such as another bag or heavy duty aluminum foil, then press the mashed potatoes flat in order to give room for storing other food items as well as other bags of mashed potatoes in the freezer.
When pressing the mashed potatoes, ensure to remove as much air as possible too, as air is the natural enemy of frozen food.
Now label the flat bags of mashed sweet potatoes with name and date of storage and place them inside the freezer to store.
Mashed potatoes stored this way would keep indefinitely, so long as the freezer is maintained at its constant temperature. But, it is advised to purpose the mashed potatoes within the first month for best flavor, especially when dairy was used in it.
Is there any quality loss during freezing?
With freezing, there is always some quality loss that happens no matter the food, which is directly proportional to the length of storage.
If you have a food stored in the freezer for say six months, and the same food stored in there for say 2 weeks, you would definitely experience a textural change, as well as flavor change with the 6 months old food in comparison to the fresher food, and when you stack both of them to a freshly prepared food, there would still a noticeable loss in quality for the frozen food items.
Now the degree of such change would depend on not only the length of duration of storage, but also on the food in question. Some foods suffer more when frozen compared to others, but it appears that mashed sweet potatoes hold up quite well to freezing.
No matter the length of duration within the first 6 months, you would experience only a subtle difference in quality after defrosting and cooking.
Mashed sweet potato does, however, lose some of its quality especially if it has dairy in it. It would lose flavor, discolor a bit, and wouldn’t taste as great as if it was prepared fresh.
If you’re not sure how the taste of frozen mashed sweet potatoes would interest you, Start off by doing a little portion for 1 to 2 months and notice how it tastes.
Go ahead and begin storing your mashed sweet potatoes in the freezer if you like what you tasted in the experiment, otherwise stick with refrigeration.
Is freezing or refrigeration better for mashed sweet potatoes?
Now it’s freezing and refrigeration better is a question that pops up in almost every food storage to bed.
The fact of the matter is that refrigeration is far superior to freezing because it happens to be that method of storage that preserves the quality of food the best.
In contrast however, freezing destroys the texture of food by making them mushy, and it sometimes affects the color and even taste.
The only time that freezing is better than refrigeration is when it comes to the length of preservation. Foods that are stored in the freezer last quite a long time in there compared to those kept in the refrigerator which mostly last a few days to a couple of weeks.
This is because the temperature of refrigeration still allows some certain spoilage bacteria and even pathogenic bacteria to breed, grow and cause spoilage and illness respectively.
If you’re storing mashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, put it inside a plastic storage container or a plastic bag: in which case you remove as much air as possible first before placing it in the refrigerator compartment far away from food items that exude smell and also from the dripping juice of meat cuts.
Keep mashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator for no longer than 4 days.
How do you reheat frozen sweet mashed potatoes?
The best and safest way to thaw any food item including mashed sweet potatoes is to remove them from the freezer and put them in the refrigerator compartment overnight. The mashed potatoes would take some time, but will remain safe due to the fact that it is held at a temperature that naturally slows down the growth of bacteria.
Thawing it out on the counter increases the risks of foodborne illness.
Another method you can try is to dip mashed potatoes (in their storage bag) in an ice bath or normal tap water and allow them to come to room temperature. Make sure to change the water frequently to necessitate quicker heat transfer.
You could also try defrosting in the microwave, but you have to make sure the mashed potatoes are cooked to an internal temperature of 165F when you eventually cook them.
Another tested and trusted method is to cook the mashed potatoes directly from frozen. This might produce even better results as the textural changes normally associated with thawing can be by-passed.
To reheat the mashed potatoes from frozen, simply use a saucepan, microwave or the oven.
Can you refreeze mashed sweet potatoes?
Only a handful of food items, especially those that hold up texture very well after freezing are advised to be refrozen. For items like mashed potatoes that would already be beaten down texturally from the first freezing, it isn’t advised to refreeze them again because the second freezing (and then reheating) would result in so much quality loss that the mashed potatoes would simply not be enjoyable.
Another reason is because food that has been thawed, spoils really quickly, and so the mashed potatoes could end up spoiling during their freezing time.
How to tell if mashed sweet potatoes have gone bad?
Now speaking of spoilage, how do you tell if your mashed sweet potatoes have gone bad?
These are the signs you should always be on the alert for.
The first is a slimy mashed potato. And this is caused by the activities of spoilage bacteria in the mashed potatoes.
Second is microbial growth. You can begin to see mold in the food item: which are fuzzy looking entities with a cotton like appearance. They come in many shades of colors too.
Spoiled mashed potatoes can also exude a smell too. So, if you notice that your mashed potatoes are beginning to smell, then it’s really time to throw them out.