Can You Peel Potatoes Ahead of Time?

This hack will save you so much time.

February 02, 2023
Classic 100 Mashed Potatoes

Classic 100 Mashed Potatoes

Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

Whether you’re prepping for Thanksgiving, latke-making or simply whipping up a large meal, you might be wondering: can you peel potatoes ahead of time? It’ll save a lot of time day-of because let’s be real … peeling potatoes takes a lot of time. No matter which way you slice (er, peel?) it.

The short answer is yes. You can absolutely peel potatoes ahead of time. But you’ll want to take some extra steps to make sure your potatoes don’t get discolored.

Time for a little science lesson. As soon as you remove the potato skin, an enzyme in the flesh of the potato reacts with the air, and the potato starts to turn pinkish-blackish – like an ugly bruise. Although it’s not harmful to eat discolored potatoes, they’re also not the most appetizing. Pinkish-blackish mashed potatoes? Um, no thanks.

It’ll take an hour or so for the discoloration to start becoming visible, so if you peel some potatoes and then get distracted by something else you’re cooking, it’s not like they’ll immediately turn an ugly color. However, let’s get back to the question of peeling them a whole day ahead of time.

fresh raw peeled potatoes in bowl of cold water on wooden kitchen table, top view

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fresh raw peeled potatoes in bowl of cold water on wooden kitchen table, top view

Photo by: Magone/Getty Images

Magone/Getty Images

How to Keep Potatoes from Turning Brown after Peeling

Step 1: Peel the Potatoes

Peel the potatoes and leave them whole. You don't want to cut them into chunks or shred them, otherwise they'll become waterlogged (because you'll be storing them in water, more on that below).

Step 2: Place the Peeled Potatoes In Water

As soon as you peel the potatoes, you’ll want to place them into a bowl of water so they’re fully submerged, and then store the bowl of potatoes and water in the refrigerator. The water will seal off the potatoes from the air, so the chemical reaction can’t occur. Pretty smart.

Step 3: Only Store the Potatoes In Water for 1 Day

Don’t store the potatoes in water for longer than a day, though, because otherwise they’ll absorb the water and become mushy.

Now, in case you’re looking for some mashed potato inspiration, may we suggest Food Network Kitchen's The Best Mashed Potatoes? They’re everything you’d like a mashed potato to be: fluffy, creamy and pillowy enough to rest your head on.

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