The Canned Ingredient That Adds Texture To Instant Mashed Potatoes

There is almost nothing more comforting in this world than a big bowl of creamy, homemade mashed potatoes. But as everyone knows, there are days when making mashed potatoes from scratch is just too much work. Whether you don't have enough time to make them before dinner after a long day at the office or are simply too exhausted to put in the effort (after all, you are probably craving comfort food for a reason), on days like these it's advantageous to keep a package of instant mashed potatoes on hand. 

Inexpensive and highly versatile, in addition to being fast to make — requiring only the time it takes to boil water and mix the flakes – instant mashed potatoes can be used to thicken soup, add crispness to vegetables, and be transformed into fried potato cakes. Idahoan, a maker of instant mashed potatoes, states that its products can even be made in the microwave if you're seriously pressed for time, taking as little as 4 to 5 minutes. When compared to making homemade mashed potatoes, this is a fraction of the time it takes to peel, cut, boil, and then mash the spuds.

Are you hesitant about putting a bowl of instant mashed potatoes on the dinner table, fearing they just won't pass muster? There are a few tricks to keep up your sleeve, such as adding flavorful ingredients like crumbled blue cheese or fresh chopped chives. And if texture if your big concern, there is one canned ingredient you can use to elevate your instant mashed potatoes.

Add lumps with canned potatoes

While parsley and shredded cheddar cheese may add flavor to your bowl of instant mashed potatoes, it's still hard to disguise that they came from a box or a pouch because of their extremely smooth texture. After all, what are homemade mashed potatoes without a few lumps? (Barely worth eating, if you ask Ross from "Friends.") Luckily, adding a can of new potatoes can help you achieve just the right amount of lumpiness with significantly less effort than making them from scratch.

But that doesn't mean you should just crack open a can and dump it in the bowl on your way to the dinner table. The Spruce Eats advises cooking canned new potatoes in a pan with ¼ cup of milk after they have been drained and rinsed, boiling the potatoes and milk for a minute or so before mashing. (The reason canned new potatoes don't need to be boiled for very long is that they were cooked prior to going into the can, according to Loaves and Dishes.) When mashing your canned potatoes, remember you're going to be adding them to your ultra-smooth instant mix, so you may want to err on the side of too lumpy. After mashing the boiled canned potatoes to your desired consistency, you can incorporate them into the prepared instant mashed potatoes.

What are canned new potatoes?

It's understandable if you're not super familiar with new canned potatoes. After all, raw potatoes can last months at room temperature when stored correctly and don't take a ridiculously long time to cook, so you might not consider purchasing them canned.

Soft and tender, canned new potatoes are not far removed from the field. According to Loaves and Dishes, small baby potatoes are harvested, cleaned, and peeled before being canned, usually with some preservatives. (For example, Del Monte adds water, sea salt, calcium chloride, and a color preservative to its canned new potatoes.) Thanks to the added water and vacuum-sealing method used to preserve the cooked new potatoes, they end up being much softer than raw potatoes, per Today, making them ready to use for many recipes. Canned new potatoes also do not differ much in appearance from a peeled white potato, again making them an easy addition to any meal.

Like any packaged product, it's important to read the label to understand its nutritional value. A drained can of whole new potatoes from Del Monte contains potassium, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Two potatoes from the can have about 14 grams of carbohydrates and 60 calories. Overall, canned new potatoes can be considered a nutritious food, though Loaves and Dishes does recommend draining the can before use and cooking in tap or filtered water in order to remove some of the added salt.

Armed with a can of new potatoes and instant mashed potato mix, you'll be able to make weeknight meals easier than ever, whipping up mashed potatoes that are as good as homemade with far less time spent in the kitchen.