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Canned potatoes are potatoes that have been processed, by either vacuum sealing or a similar method, and sealed within a container for a long shelf life. Many varieties of mass manufactured canned potatoes are stored in metal cans. Homemade versions of canned potatoes will often be stored in mason jars or similar glass containers, which is part of a greater tradition of glass canning for individual households in many parts of the world.
The main purpose for canning potatoes is to provide a less perishable product that can be stored for longer periods of time. Since potatoes have a relatively long shelf life in their natural state, many cooks avoid buying canned potatoes. For times when buyers must stock up on essential food staples, however, these products can be useful. Many different varieties of potatoes can be canned for this kind of long-term storage, including white, yellow or russet potatoes, or other special or regional varieties.
One of the drawbacks of using canned potatoes in a recipe is that the texture of the food will usually be different from the texture of unprocessed potatoes. The raw potato has a crisp, starchy texture that benefits from light to moderate cooking. By contrast, many canned potato products tend to have a soft, mushy texture that is a common result of this method of preservation. While natural potatoes are often cooked whole or cut into strips or slices, canned tomatoes will typically be in the form of small whole potatoes, or cubed chunks of larger potatoes.
Although the use of canned potatoes is stigmatized in some cooking communities, individual cooks have come up with some resourceful ways to use them in recipes. One popular way to use canned potatoes is in soups or other recipes where a soft overall texture is desirable. Some cooks will also use these in a hash with meat or other ingredients. Another popular use for these products is in mashed potatoes, which is another popular potato product that relies on a soft, pureed texture.
As canned potatoes come in many different varieties, they are also uniquely processed. Shoppers can benefit from assessing an individual product for its overall health value, and from looking at expiration dates before purchase. It’s also important to consider the quality and cultivation of the potatoes used to make these products.