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The salty and crispy goodness of french fries is an undeniable dish for most. And when a craving hits, you can find yourself cooking more than you could finish. So how exactly do you store leftover french fries? Do they need to be refrigerated? We’ve researched these answers and more just for you!
Leftover french fries should be stored in the refrigerator within two hours of cooling. They should be placed in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in foil or food wrap. Cooked french fries can be stored for 3 to 5 days before they should be tossed out.
If you’re wondering why refrigerating your fries is essential or how to store them to avoid the dreaded soggy fries, keep reading! We will discuss everything from storage to reheating to make sure you don’t miss a single french fry.
How to store leftover french fries
Storing leftover fries properly is necessary to keep you and your food safe. French fries need to be stored in the refrigerator within two hours of cooling.
This will help prevent the growth and spread of bacteria, which can happen rapidly when food is left out at room temperature. If they are left out for more than two hours, it’s recommended that they are trashed. It may seem silly, but bacteria multiply and can make you sick.
When storing french fries, they should be placed in a shallow airtight container. If you aren’t sure if your container is truly airtight, you can tightly wrap food wrap or aluminum foil. When stored correctly in the refrigerator, cooked fries will keep for 3 to 5 days.
How do you keep leftover fries from getting soggy?
As we will later discuss, steam is the enemy of french fries. Not only in cooking them, but also in storing them. To prevent your fries from getting wet and soggy, you have to prevent steam.
This means storing your french fries only after they have completely cooled. If you place your warm fries in a to-go box or plastic container with the lid closed, they will create steam within that container. The fries then absorb that steam, and we know how that ends—soggy fries.
So before you pack up your leftover fries, let them cool completely, then place them in a container with a paper towel layer on the bottom. This will ensure that moisture accumulated in the container can be absorbed by something other than the french fries.
How do you reheat french fries?
Let’s start with how you don’t reheat french fries: the microwave. We’ll go over exactly why this never works later. For now, back away from the microwave and keep reading for the much better alternatives.
The key to amazing french fries is the balance between crispy and fluffy. When fries get cold, their crisp becomes soggy, and their fluff tastes like eating raw potatoes. To combat these issues and liven up those cold fries, a skillet will be the best option.
A skillet will work for just about any type or cut of french fries. You control the heat, watch them crisp, and remove them when they are perfect for you. Here’s how it works.
Place a pan on the over and heat the pan over medium heat. You do not need to add butter or oil to this pan. The fries will have enough oil in them already to prevent sticking. Adding more oil can prevent them from getting crisp.
When the pan is warm, add a single layer of fries. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding will cause the fries to cook unevenly and even steam, resulting in even soggier fries. Give them enough room in the pan to cook.
As the fries cook, flip them frequently, so you get an even golden brown on all sides.
Once the fries have gotten a nice crisp on the outside and are warm on the inside, remove them from the pan and season with salt. Add the salt, or other seasonings, while the fries are hot. The seasoning will melt into the fries instead of sitting on top and falling off when moved.
If you have thinner french fries, turn the heat lower, so they cook through without burning the outside. And be sure you are watching and flipping them because thinner or smaller fries can cook very quickly.
The key to roasting leftover french fries in the oven is heat. Higher temperatures are going to give you crispier fries.
Oven roasting your fries is going to work for most types of french fries expect shoestring fries. There’s a good chance they will burn before getting warm in the middle. And if your fries are thicker, like wedges, you can roast them a few minutes longer.
For this method, simply preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then place a single layer of french fries on a baking sheet, remembering to give them room to cook evenly.
Again, most fries are going to have enough oil from their previous cook. But if you feel that it won’t be enough, drizzle a little olive oil on them. And make sure you sprinkle salt on before popping them in the oven.
Roast your fries for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the baking sheet a couple of times during cooking to keep the fries from burning. Once they’ve reached your desired texture, take them out and enjoy!
Using an air fryer is the simplest and quickest way to reheat fries. But it can also be finicky.
All you have to do is preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees. When it’s heated, put the fries in a single layer in the basket and cook for 3 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. Test the fries and make sure they are cooked through, cooking an additional minute at a time if needed.
The only downfall in using the air fryer is the need to guess the time and test the fries to make sure the middle is warm. An air fryer will work on fries, but the finicky part is determining how to cook each kind.
Depending on the thickness of the fries and what air fryer you have, this can take a bit of trial and error. However, once you discover your sweet spot, there will be no turning back from air-fried french fries!
Will deep frying your fries get you golden crispy results? Yes. Is it a bigger hassle than the other methods? Absolutely. Even a countertop fryer can be messy, dangerous, and it takes longer for the oil to heat up. Still, some prefer this method, and it does produce amazing leftover fries.
Using a deep fryer, heat the oil to 375 degrees. Once it reaches that temperature, lower your basket of fries into the fryer. It should only take around two minutes for them to crisp up and cook through. Once they are finished, season and eat!
Although this technique will work on all fries, this is an excellent option for large fries, like wedges. The oil will be sure they get cooked to the middle. Other methods may get the outside crisp well before the thicker inside is heated.
Why do French fries taste bad after reheating?
The reason french fries taste bad cold and reheated in the microwave comes down to the starch. French fries gain their yummy texture when the starch particles on the outside of the fries hydrate. They do this by taking in moisture, leaving the outside nice and crisp.
But this only works when the particles are hot. When the fry begins to cool, the hydrated starch loses the water inside of it, which is absorbed by the rest of the french fry. The result is a limp and soggy fry.
When fries are reheated in the microwave, they’re being warmed from the inside out. That moisture inside the fry is essentially steaming it, and cooking with moisture is not the way to get crispy fries.
The oven, air fryer, and skillet all heat the french fries from the outside first. This heats the starch particles. As they get hot, they absorb the moisture from inside the fry and crisp back up.
A big part of the bad taste of reheated french fries comes down to texture. Not only are they soggy, but microwaving isn’t going to heat the oil in them enough to disperse it through the french fries, leaving you with a bite of cold fryer oil.
French fries are notorious for being the worst leftover. Hopefully, with this help in storing them correctly and reheating to crispy perfection, that will change. Go enjoy some incredibly crispy leftover french fries!
Fries may be a no-no for the microwave, but that doesn’t mean your pizza is. Check out this post on reheating pizza in the microwave:
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