How To Prepare Chips: Removing Starch & Water Fast

When it comes to frying potatoes, too much water and starch are the enemy.

If you introduce your chips to the fryer still dripping in water and starch, you run the risk of compromising both your food and your frying oil.

While even the most amateur of fryers knows that water and oil do not mix, fewer are aware of the dangers of excess starch on their chips. Too much starch often leads to soft, brown and mushy fries; not the crisp, golden-brown chips we all know and love (and expect from our chippies!).

In this post, we’ll take you through the science behind the starch, as well as provide you with an exclusive frying tip from Frymax Ambassador David Henley, which is sure to keep you producing perfect chips, time after time. 

What is potato starch?

Potatoes are essentially balls of starch and water. They are tubers, which are the underground swellings of a plant’s stem used to store energy when times get hard in winter.

When a potato is peeled, it develops a sticky white coating on its surface which is the potato starch leaking out. Peeling exposes more starch than an unpeeled potato, as it increases the potato’s surface area, even more so when it is cut up into chips.

Why soak potatoes in water before frying?

The excess potato starch that forms when potatoes are peeled and sliced must be rinsed off the chips with water. If not, the surface starch will block the evaporation of moisture from the potato and lead to mushy, dark brown chips.  

Once the excess starch has been removed from the chips, it’s crucial that they are thoroughly dried before being fried. Wet chips not only means that water is highly likely to impair the oil, but it also means that not all excess starch has been removed!

It’s a recipe for disaster that all commercial fryers will want to avoid.

How to remove starch from potatoes fast

Here’s Frymax Ambassador David Henley to explain the fastest and most efficient way for fryers to remove excess starch and water from their potatoes…

“I have been in our industry for over 35 years. It still amazes me that virtually every day we can still learn new techniques to hone our craft.

As a Frymax Ambassador I see first-hand the ambition and dedication from fryers (especially those new to our industry) to absorb new ideas and take on board new techniques and advice.

Unfortunately the ones who sometimes disregard advice are the ones who have been in our industry for 10 or 20 years or more. This is because they have been doing the same thing day in, day out for so long they think there is nothing more to learn – “I have been doing it like this for 20 years”.

Well, I would like to share this simple tip with you… 

We all know that water and oil do not mix and that a high water content in your chips is the quickest way to breakdown your oil. This is the case even if you follow the correct step by step instructions of your potato preparation guide, washing off the excess starch, leave to drain for the correct time, etc.

One thing I see time after time is when you are nearing the end of your chip container, fryers scooping up wet chips from the bottom of the container to fry simply because the drain hole is not located in the correct area.

Food container full of chips

I use large food grade containers on castors (see above image). When they are delivered to me the drainage hole is located to the front approximately 20mm from the bottom of the container. I use a 22mm drill bit and drill a hole through the bottom of the container (see below image).


Hole drilled into food container

First of all, it allows me to position the tank directly over the drain so I can control the direction of the flow of water and avoid flooding the whole prep room. Secondly, and most importantly, it allows me to drain off ALL the water as it’s positioned at the lowest point of the container. This virtually eliminates any pool of water at the bottom of the container, resulting in a drier chip that will fry better.

This handy tip will give you a much better end product and will prolong the life of your frying oil.”

Who is Frymax Ambassador David Henley?

David Henley is a Frymax Ambassador with nearly 40 years’ experience in the fish and chip industry. Owning his first fish and chip shop at the young age of 24, he went on to open four more award-winning chippies in Wivenhoe, Alresford, Colchester and Braintree. If it’s frying tips you’re after, then David is your man.

At Frymax, we love to see our ambassadors and customers working together to deliver great tasting fish and chips to their customers. If you think your business could benefit from the expertise of the Frymax community, become a Frymax member today for FREE or get in touch with our team for more information about Frymax – the frying oil of choice in the fish and chip trade for the past 60 years.

10 September 2019