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How to bake a potato

09/28/2008 7:54 AM

Well, it's the weekend again and time for another puzzle (I'm at the age when dozens of common things puzzle me everyday, so this is easy):

I went to the supermarket yesterday to buy baking potatoes. They now sell these already washed and wrapped in aluminum foil. The extra cost for this works out to between $0.30 and $0.35 (USD) per pound.

They are tightly wrapped in gold colored foil, shiny side out. Now, I've never wrapped a baking potato in my life, but I got to wondering.

Does the foil help?

Does the gold color have any significance (other than marketing)?

Should the shiny side be out or in?

Should the foil be tight or loose?

Does anyone bake potatoes with foil? If so, what have you found?

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#1

Re: How to bake a potato

09/28/2008 8:45 AM

Cooking anything in a oiled bag, a high temp plastic bag or in aluminium foil, keep the juices inside, while the cooking is done. Try to butter a chicken, sprinkle some herbs on it, pepper, salt, wrap it in aluminium foil and throw it in the oven at 350°F. While waiting, DO NOT drink all the Chardonnay, leave a bit for the chiken....After an hour and a half, open the foil and expose the bird. Put it back in the oven until it gets that unmistakable color that will make you salivate. While waiting for the roasting, take a few garlique (!) cloves, squish them, and make a paste, adding a bit of (olive) oil at a time. That will be served with the roasted chicken. I don't think that it is opportune, any longer, to talk about doing the baked potato!

Enjoy it.

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#2

Re: How to bake a potato

09/28/2008 10:20 AM

In place where I'm living it's a kind of a national sport to bake a potatoes.

Traditional and simplest way is to put potatoes into a camp fire and wait for hour or even for hours. Potatoes is covering a crust which protects its pulp from getting a bit burn. That burnt crust mixed with an ash might be considered as non eatable, but some of people find one as quite delicious thing(i think it was reasonable in a tough times due to lack of salt in everyday diets).

In any case potatoes' pulp is a very tasty meal.

I was learnt more clear technology, when already washed potatoes shoud be putted in used big can. The can is placed at the same camp fire and baking story repeats again. It's more neat technique.

I had cooked a baked potatoes at natural gas oven and electric grill as well. I didn't considered to wrap its in foil as useful option ever, though I find foil useful for bird's cooking.

Yes I think it does no matter a colour of foil. Seems to be it's a marketing trick. Although foil itself makes process of baking more smoother in terms of more uniform heating distribution over a potatoes surface.

Do not remove ever potatoes' skin before baking.

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#3

Re: How to bake a potato

09/28/2008 8:21 PM

Ah, take a potato sized to a clay pot (like a garden pot), have saucer large enough to place pot upside down upon it. Grease the tatter and stand up on saucer(level of performance- difficult), place pot upside down over tatter onto saucer and place correct size saucer upside down onto pot.

Place this contraption on BBQ or oven, on brick in fire etc..

when done mix tatter pulp with boiled kale, hot oil and salt...

hmm...goo-ud!

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 12:18 AM

I have no scientific answers and have been overcome by hunger, but I would guess that the shiny side out would reflect some energy and the dull side may absorb it???????

Here is something that a good friend has given me as a BBQ trick--He took a whole potato, 4 or 5 cloves of peeled fresh garlic and a whole onion peeled to the edibles, wrapped in foil and BBQed for a couple hours.

I perverted the original by cutting the spud in half and landing it on half of the onion and 4 or 5 whole garlic cloves, wrapped in foil and BBQed for an hour.

The onion sacrifices it's water to steam the spud and caramelizes in the process. The garlic cooks and is perfect for mashing into the potato with a tab of butter--Or double the garlic and eat them and throw the spud and onion away.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 3:52 AM

Sounds good either way

Popular conception puts the shiny side to the food.

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#6

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 7:13 AM

Really, how much difference is there in the reflectivity one side to the other? The difference may only be in the amount of diffusion.....

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#7

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 8:04 AM

Yes I cook with foil when I find it improves the out come. The foil helps to cook the item more evenly. It aids in not drying the item out. Makes the baked potato flesh fluffy.

One thing I like to use foil on is to barbecue ribs. Wrap them in foil with your own favorite sauce to marinate in while cooking. Cook on the grill slow 45 min to and 1 hr. Unwrap, sear and baste with sauce. The meat will be so juicy tender you can pull the rib bones out with ease.

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#8

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 8:50 AM

While still newly-weds, my wife baked sweet potatoes in the oven. She just washed them and laid them on the rack. After a while, we heard a POOF! The potatoe had exploded inside the oven! Potatoe innards were all over the inside of the oven. Now she always pricks the skin with a fork to let the steam out.

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#9

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 8:52 AM

I used to work in a restaurant while in school. We would always wrap the taters in foil after washing and before cooking. Always wrapped them shiney side in. We were told the dull side would absorb the heat and cause the tater to cook faster. One of the rookies wraped a whole box shiney side out once and it took an extra 30 minutes to cook them taters.

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#10

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 8:57 AM

I always bake my potatoes in a microwave oven. Foil is a no-no. Wash the potato and wrap in a paper towel. I also use a cloth baking bag, but I don't know if it's necessary (it was a gift). It's quick, clean, energy-efficient, and the baked potatoes (that includes sweet potatoes, too) are delicious.

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#17
In reply to #10

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 11:15 AM

My daughter bakes potatoes in microwave, takes them out, butters them to taste (garlic on occasion), then wraps them in aluminum foil to finish the baking with the potatoes retained heat. She will eat them for lunch during the weekend.

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#11

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 8:58 AM

The other ideas sounds great but lack in answering all of the questions being asked.

1. Foil does help by creating a barrier between the potato and the heat. The moisture will be kept inside the foil and the potato will be lighter and more moist.

2.Color has no significance what so ever. Only the metal being used might increase or decrease the cooking time.

3.Which side is out doesn't matter with the exception of putting the potato into the coals of a campfire. I would place the shiny side out but really no scientific proof to help.

4.The foil should be tight. Loose foil can release the moisture and would not cook evenly.

5.I bake with foil all the time. Most of the time on the grill. It's the best when smoking a ham and the potatoes get some of that smoked flavor.

You can decrease the amount of cooking time by taking a fork and stabbing holes completely around the potato.

Hope this helps.

Dan

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#12

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 9:01 AM

To wrap or not to wrap? It depends on how you like your potatoes. Wrapping them keeps the steam from escaping. The result is a heavier, moister potato. It is basically more steam cooked than baked. Not wrapping allows the steam to escape and the skin to dry out. (Coating the skin with oil or butter minimizes this.) The potato will be dryer and fluffier. My choice is to not wrap and use a potato nail, an aluminum skewer that helps transfer heat to the inside, reducing cooking time by almost 50%. Do not use steel nails. The potato will taste metallic.

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#22
In reply to #12

Re: How to bake a potato

09/30/2008 10:52 AM

On reading down from the top, you were the first who really understands the science of baked potatoes! So I gave you a GA too.

I personally prefer not to waste precious metal in slowing down the cooking by wrapping them in foil, band I like the thicker skin when baked "metal free"!

A tiny extra help to know when the potato is finished cooking (only works on potatoes baked without foil of course) is to see how the potato lies on the table, put a "waist" cut around the potato with a sharp knife about 1/8th of an inch deep around the potato. When cooked, this cut will open up to about 1/4" wide......a clear indication that it is finished.

This helps when potatos of various sizes are being cooked together, allowing one to select the ones finshed cooking first!!

Do not forget to "prick" all over as even with the cut, some potatoes will still explode....

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#13

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 9:06 AM

As the principal (grocery) shopper in the family, I can lend some expertise to the discussion. You cannot buy gold-coloured foil - I have not seen it for sale at the grocers (you can buy gold-coloured gift wrap 'foil' but it would tend to melt on the barbie and give the food a funky taste). Marketers play on people's ignorance and cleverly make them inclined to think that gold foil has special cooking properties. Were the spuds to be wrapped in regular foil, the average shopper would simply buy bulk spuds and wrap them in aluminum (aluminium for the Brits) foil themselves.

I admit to buying the Russet potatoes wrapped in gold foil, on occasion, simply for the convenience and for the uniformity of these selected potatoes.

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#14

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 9:15 AM

I remember reading some time ago that Reynolds Wrap said it makes no difference shiny side or dull side in on the foil. The shiny & dull sides come from the way the foil is made.

As far as cooking a potato goes. I like to slice the potato in 1/4 inch slices add a pat of butter and or garlic or onion between the slices and a little bit of other seasonings of your choice wrap tightly in the foil then place either in the coals or on the grill till soft. If done just right the skin get nice and fried but the insides stay moist. Best of both worlds. Fried and baked potato.

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#15

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 10:48 AM

Its a common misconception Shiny/Dull side. I have found NO difference.

To foil or not to foil is a personal preference. So here is my preference for potato's for the first time anywhere.

"Bill's Famous Potato's"

(Yea I know if its the first time any were how could they be famous...One can dream right?)

Take a large potato and cut a V Shaped wedge out of it the long way. (for us engineers side view illustration: (V) ) Using a knife stab down into the wedge at different angles and places. Next take an appropriate amount of room temperature butter and mix in your favorite amount of minced Garlic and Salt/Pepper. Spread this GENEROSLY in to the V groove

Slice a white or yellow onion (red ones will discolor the potato) so you end up with Onion Rings when they are separated. Lay two or three rings on top of the potato. (or more if you really like onions and don't have a hot date later)

Take one slice of bacon and cut it in half and lay this in a "X" pattern across the top.

cover in foil and make sure the seam side is up! Don't want to loose any of that butter!

Cook until a toothpick can be inserted easily.

Unwrap and enjoy!

Bill12780

PS Yes...I am fat...and I DO know how to cook! hahaha!

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#16

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 10:58 AM

Wash 8-10 larger potatoes ant wipe them dry. Wrap them into aluminum foil (shiny side inside).

Light a fire of logs (you can do it in fireplace too) and let it burn down. You need a 5-inch-deep ash. Din in the potatoes into the ash and cover them with 2-3 inches of ash, and revive the fire with some smaller logs. Let it burn for three quarters of an hour, then remove the potatoes and let them cool. It takes about 10 minutes, then you can remove the foil with the skin of the potatoes.

It will be more tasty if after washing, before baking you cut the potatoes almost two halves but leave about 1/4 inch intact and slide a thin slice of bacon into the slot...

Then you can open the Chardonnay...

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 6:45 PM

Finally A very good answer, I was worrying I had read this post in vain.

Rusty

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#18

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 1:58 PM

The finish has an effect if most of the heat is Direct IR instead of convection type. The effect is small, however. Foil is run in 2 plys through the finishing presses. The mirror finish rolls contact and make the shiney side, and the matte finish side is the result of the two pieces of foil contacting each other instead of a smooth roll.

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#19

Re: How to bake a potato

09/29/2008 4:40 PM

Here are MY answers - note most of this is recapitulating what the early posters already confirmed:

  • The foil might speed the cook time, but these are technically "steamed" potaoes, not baked.
  • The gold color just shows folks you paid extra for the spuds.
  • The foil should (if used) be fairly tight, but the spuds should always be pricked with a fork or knife first to allow steam to escape - else BOOM!
  • I do not usually use foil, although I have in the past. Nowadays, I coat them with some bacon grease reserved from the breakfast skillet.

Simple fare made complicated, but still yummy stuff! Enjoy any way you like 'em...

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#21

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 8:30 AM

Once again a contrarian is called for...

First, noting your USA location, it is a good bet that the appearance of gold-foil-wrapped (think, restaurant packaged) potatoes has much to do with the hard times (gas prices and all) that have fallen on the restaurant industry...to whom the potatoes normally sold are now also being creatively marketed and distributed to grocery markets. Not a bad business survival concept either, for that matter.

Your curiosity about foil-wrapped cooking is best answered from the (not-so-fine) restaurant proprietor's point of view.

As to the coloration of the foil, "gold," like "silver" before serves to convey to customers a visual impression of value and purity, but not much more. Whatever might be said of the quality of the cooked contents...well, that is left to the not-so-discriminating restaurant customer—always accommodating, always gullible—to postulate for him or her self. As to any advantage of foil, of any color, many waiters might claim, probably rightly, that the foil makes handling of the potato easier and less apt to inflict "hot-potato" discomfort to fingers. From this "handling" perspective, it is also reasonable to surmise that a foil-wrapped potato being served at a dining table might also be perceived as more sanitary, as it has not been touched by server's fingers after leaving the oven.

Now for the restaurateur's not-so-tasty little potato cooking secret: Restaurant-served baked potatoes are baked in foil not to impart any improvement of taste of texture but, rather, for the profit minded purpose of puffing/bloating (as in expanding) of each potato...thereby—in addition to creating a false impression of portion size—obscuring undesirable qualities (small &or inconsistent size, poor texture, under ripeness, blemishes...even non-Russet substitutions) of lower-graded potatoes purchased in bulk; and therefore purchased cheaply. (OP author might, himself, have noticed the thickening, sometimes hardening, just under the foil-wrapped's natural jacket...and a tendency toward overmoistness, even mushiness, as well.)

Aside from those few foil "advantages," the epicurean (and finer restaurant) point of view holds that foil-wrapping always yields an inferior result.; that the best qualities (lightness and fluffiness along with substantial internal dehydration) are achieved when superior quality (that means hand selected) potatoes are cooked (be it by baking or by "nuking") in their own, lightly greased or buttered, jackets; and are well vented (by piercing) during cooking.

Applying careful technique, microwave "baked" potatoes can closely approach, sometimes equal, the qualities of oven baked potatoes:

  • Additional venting (especially with large potatoes)...because of the faster cooking rate in a microwave.
  • Careful potato selection for uniform size...because larger spuds finish cooking less quickly, so could be underdone when smaller ones are finished and ready to come out.
  • Arrangement of potatoes end-to-end in a circle on the baking platter...so that the greatest microwave "bombardment," nearer the cook cavity walls, reaches all potatoes uniformly.
  • Allowance for sufficient time for potatoes to "finish" cooking after removal from the oven, allowing more time for larger potatoes...such that a potato yields a little bit to palm pressure when removed from oven, and yields quite noticeably to the same after stand time before serving.

An even better method, still probably the best in fact, harks back to the times before the proliferation of household microwave ovens. In those times, potatoes were commonly baked positioned vertically on end and impaled (up to several at a time) on a potato baking rack. These had the advantage of allowing full heat exposure surrounding each potato; and conduction of heat by the rack spike to also cook the potato from within...and thereby attain even baking in addition to reduced baking time. There are devices modeled after these for use in microwave ovens.

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 11:19 AM

That's it :

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#24
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 11:29 AM

You only have to peel it and ready to eat...

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#25
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 11:39 AM

... with some salted Danish butter...

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 11:46 AM

Stop being such a (Buda)pest! You're making us ALL Hungarians!!!

Hey, why peel 'em? It's tasty, and has most of the vitamin content of the potato in it. The inside, while delicious, is almost all carbohydrates.

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#27
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 11:56 AM
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#29
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 12:10 PM

Looks like you did a little QC there (quantity control)! Bon appetít!

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#30
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 12:15 PM

Bon appetít!

It's over...

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#31
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 12:31 PM

But good while it lasted! And as long as potatoes grow, it can be replicated...

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#28
In reply to #26

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

09/30/2008 12:03 PM

I had to check it. You know, quality assurance...

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#34
In reply to #24

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

10/01/2008 3:59 AM

Hi. Looking at you little white potatoes on there little white micro-rack...

I have never used one of these microwave models, but am given to understand that potato "done-ness" is indicated when the potato slides down to the bottom of the spike. Have you heard that, too? Is that actually the case based on your experience?

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#35
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Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

10/01/2008 6:29 AM

Potatoes never slide down but if you do not stab them through totally they can fly up like a rocket...

As I have found potato is ready when the skin is totally wrinkled.

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#55
In reply to #35

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

10/06/2008 8:13 AM

If you cut a line 5mm deep around the widest part of the potato, this suddenly opens up to about 7 or 8 mm when the potato is exactly and correctly fully cooked.....

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#58
In reply to #21

Re: How to bake a potato...and how not.

10/10/2008 7:39 AM

I remember my mom sticking a nail in the potato before baking it. I haven't seen that technique used in a long time. I guess since microwaves have become an everyday cooking tool the old metal nail in the potato technique has lost its use. Now but looking at the one in the above picture they still use it but with plastic instead of metal.

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#32

Re: How to bake a potato

09/30/2008 3:18 PM

My favorite way to bake a potato is to wash it very thoroughly, rub butter and salt all over the outside and bake unfoiled in the oven. The peel is particularly tasty when cooked like this.

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#33

Re: How to bake a potato

09/30/2008 7:03 PM

First of all, it stews a potato - not bakes it - they call it baking because its done in an oven.

The foil seals in the moisture to stew the potato in its own water content.

Foil colour makes it look better - no other effect.

Shiny side helps to collect external heat faster.

Foil will (obviously) transfer outside temperature better if wrapped tight.

Microwaving potatoes (no foil of course) is far quicker- end product is tastier too.

Respects etc. -

Guy Douee -

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#36
In reply to #33

Re: How to bake a potato

10/01/2008 8:07 AM

Hmmm...from a place where beetroot and fried egg is put on a hamburger and where that foul () yeast extract - aka Vegemite - is adored...I'll take this with grain of salt.

Welcome aboard!

A.T.

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#37
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Re: How to bake a potato

10/01/2008 9:30 AM

Vegemite's already a bit too salty for my taste - but I echo your WELCOME ABOARD!

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#38

Re:

10/01/2008 5:55 PM

Blmey...I know I've been on hol' but it must have been a quiet week.

No wonder you guys have screwed your econmy if you buy special washed wrapped potatoes for baking .

In answer to the Q. How to bake a potato.

Get a potato (any old potato) prick it with any sharp implement shove it in the oven (ok make sure the oven is hot).. don't waste time washing it, oiling it, dusting it with talum powder ...and lipstick is a real no-no.

The damn thing will be sterilised by the baking. Take it out and eat it, the mud on the outside helps make a nice crisp skin .

Anyone paying extra for 'baking potatoes' wants their head examined.

Del

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#39
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Re:

10/01/2008 6:13 PM

Ouch--Monday I start a new job because of the economy and I assure you it isn't because I was paying for washed potatoes. It was the FOIL!

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#40
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Re:

10/02/2008 3:07 AM

Good luck with the job...

Del

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#42
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Re:

10/02/2008 7:57 AM

Curses - foiled again! Best of fortune to you, doing what, may I ask?

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#51
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Re:

10/02/2008 6:10 PM

Is DUNNO an answer?

Clunky electrician(maintenance) at the very least and possibly a path towards electrical engineering---either way really good stuff.

Thank you Del and Enviroman.

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#41
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Re: How not to scrub potato

10/02/2008 4:36 AM

"...don't waste time washing it..."

Baked dirt with tater skins...yum!

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#43
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Re: How not to scrub potato

10/02/2008 8:00 AM

Cuts down on the amount of salt needed, don'tcha know... Dirt has long been regarded as a condiment in some quarters.

http://geography.about.com/cs/culturalgeography/a/geophagy.htm

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#44
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Re:

10/02/2008 9:05 AM

I have had my head examined...it wasn't quite done on the inside

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#45
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Re:

10/02/2008 9:25 AM

"don't waste time washing it,"

Would I be out of place inquiring what is used for fertilizer in the area where your potatoes are grown?

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#46
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Re:

10/02/2008 9:55 AM

Don't worry, your output will be the same...

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#47
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Re:

10/02/2008 12:30 PM

If I eat the fertilizer encrusted potato skin, would that be recycling?

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#48
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Re:

10/02/2008 1:11 PM

What I'm really trying to say is we are often over fussy just rub 'em over with your hand.
Don't start me on those antibacterial hand wash products they sell...I don't want bloody antibacterial, but have trouble buying anything else....It's a wonder they havn't started selling domestic autoclaves .

If chemical fertilizer is used it will hardly be on the surface....any organic matter even raw sewage would be sterilized at 200C or 45 mins or whatever..

Dunno about a microwave...but they don't give a crunchy skin.

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#49
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Re:

10/02/2008 2:14 PM

You are right, tons of antibacterial products drive me crazy. If bacteria were so dangerous mankind should have extincted...

About the potato: I also prefer the crunchy skin but it's hard to produce it in the kitchen fast. Microwave only boils the skin, the potato will be baked though...

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#50
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Re:

10/02/2008 2:24 PM

Yeah, all the "antibacterial" stuff does is contribute to resistant strains of bacteria that you couldn't kill with a sledgehammer. Better by far to develop your own immunity to them and let nature take its course - excepting of course the really nasty pathogens, most of which are either viruses like smallpox that bactericides don't affect, or microorganisms like malaria that aren't much amused or abused either. And for them, innoculations and medications are effective. You want a good, cheap, antibacterial agent? Try grain alcohol. A bit hard to bathe in, true, but it will do the job. Plus you can lick yourself dry...

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#52
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Re:

10/03/2008 12:47 AM

Try grain alcohol.

I prefer the single malt one...

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#53
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Re:

10/04/2008 5:57 AM

Not to divert your thought (or diet), but have you ever considered how they grow mushrooms, and the impossibility of scrubbing them clean?

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#54

Re: How to bake a potato

10/04/2008 6:11 AM

Thanks to all who contributed. I got some great recipes. I'm still not sure about the foil though - it is my practice to never use the stuff in cooking except when I want to slow down the process, e.g., pie crust edges. Which reminds me that the yellow delicious apples are now fresh and relatively cheap and it's getting a bit chilly here at night, and I've got a new jigsaw puzzle, so it's time to make a nice apple pie and try to ignore all the political nonsense we're subject to here.

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#56
In reply to #54

Re: How to bake a potato

10/06/2008 8:17 AM

Forget the foil, but do wash them as the skin (clean) is very tasty! In some countries the serve the baked skins only under a cheese coating!!

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#57
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Re: How to bake a potato

10/06/2008 8:31 AM

I have had baked potato skins many times. With cheese and bacon. Great as an appetizer.

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