One Simple Ingredient Addition Creates Softer And Fluffier Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are incredibly simple to make: boil some potatoes, and mash the softened spuds until they turn into a creamy paste. Then, stir in as much butter and cream as you can spare, and you should be good to go — or is there a better way?

If you regularly cook this classic dish, you've likely encountered some common problems. For example, instead of achieving a buttery-soft, silken texture, you might end up with a gummy and lumpy mash. Fortunately, there's a surprisingly simple fix that requires just one additional ingredient: ice cold water. All you need to do is soak your peeled potatoes in the super cold water for at least an hour before cooking them.

It sounds simple, but there's a scientific reason this trick works — it targets the excess starch released by the potatoes when peeled, which is the main culprit behind gummy potatoes. By rinsing it away, your odds of producing a platter of mashed potatoes with just the right texture go way up.

Excess starch is bad news for your mashed potatoes

When potatoes are cut or peeled, their cells are damaged and, in turn, release starch. Potato starch is notoriously sticky, and if too much of it remains, you'll end up with a mash that's more like congealed, stringy lumps than fluffy clouds of potato when the starch binds all of the delicious crumbs together. By soaking the potatoes in cold water right after peeling, you can dissolve much of the released starch and prevent your spuds from turning gummy. In fact, you can actually see this process at work as the water turns milky from all the starch after you've soaked the potatoes for a while.

After soaking, gently lift the potatoes from the water, being careful not to stir up the settled starch at the bottom of the bowl, and boil the potatoes until they are nice and soft. If you want to be extra sure that the potatoes aren't going to gum up, rinse the cooked potatoes under cold running water to wash away any remaining surface starch. Then, steam them over the boiling pot to ensure they are nice and warm, plus dry them off from the short wash. The potatoes can now be mashed. Use a potato masher to grind them down, then stir in butter (or ghee, for a decadent twist) and cream, and jazz it up with your favorite mashed potato toppings. The result? Perfectly smooth and delicious mashed potatoes for your enjoyment!