Dehydrated potatoes have been thoroughly dried and then processed into powder, very fine flakes, or granules, although they can be dried as slices, cubes, or shreds of potato as well. Dehydrated, or dried, potatoes are used in packaged and food service foods, as ingredients in other food products, and even in industrial applications. Millions of U.S. tons (1 U.S. ton = 0.91 metric tons) of potatoes are dehydrated every year by industry, and many people dehydrate their own potatoes at home as well.
Any potato product that has had the moisture removed can be called dehydrated potatoes. Most are processed by large industrial plants that package them in a number of forms for a variety of food products. Food products made with dehydrated potatoes are popular because with the water removed, potatoes are much lighter, resulting in lower shipping costs for dehydrated potato products. These types of products have a much longer shelf life than whole potatoes.
Potatoes that are to be dehydrated are usually peeled, washed, cut and blanched or steamed. They may be cut in a number of ways including slices, cubes, or shreds, depending on their intended use. The potatoes are then dried in large industrial dehydrators, which are essentially low temperature ovens with very dry circulating air currents that dry the potatoes without actually cooking them further. This process is often done entirely with a system of conveyors, for continuous production, rather than in batches.
Once the potatoes are dried, they may be further processed or packaged. Dehydrated potatoes are often ground or pulverized into a powder, which is re-hydrated and then processed into uniform fine flakes or granules and then dried again. These types of products are sold as instant potatoes or instant mashed potatoes, and are a common convenience food for cooks and chefs who do not want to be troubled with making mashed potatoes from scratch. Dehydrated potato powder is sometimes ground very fine and sold as potato flour, which is used in baking and as a thickening agent.
Many other food products are made with dehydrated potatoes. Packaged mixes containing sliced, dehydrated potatoes and a sauce or seasoning packet are a very common supermarket item. Dehydrated shredded potatoes are used for hash brown potatoes, and dehydrated potato cubes are used in soup mixes and other packaged foods. Potato crisps are a popular snack food that is made by pressing a paste made from dehydrated potato flakes or powder into shapes resembling traditional potato chips, which are then baked or fried. Many people dehydrate their own potatoes at home in a standard food dehydrator for long term storage.