November 17, 2012

Dairy-Free Potato Puree

The traditional approach to creamy, smooth potatoes is to add so much cream and butter that you can hardly taste the potatoes anymore. But, we’ve discovered how you can make velvety-smooth potatoes without adding any cream at all! The secret ingredient is diastatic malt powder, an ingredient available from specialty baking or brewing supply stores that converts potato starches into sugars, leaving no trace of gumminess or graininess.

Potato starch granules are big: up to a tenth of a millimeter in diameter. That’s large enough for your tongue and teeth to detect. The microscope image above, taken by our very own Nathan Myhrvold, reveals the potato starch granules (stained red by iodine vapor) surrounded by the potato’s cell walls (stained blue).

Diastatic malt powder is made from a grain containing the enzyme diastase. This enzyme speeds up the rate at which starches breakdown into sugars. When you set this enzyme loose on potato starches, it actually splits the giant starch molecules into much smaller sugar molecules, smoothing the puree at the microscopic level and eliminating the graininess associated with dairy-free potato purees.

Recipe Tags

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Additional Tips

  • Diastatic malt powder is available online, as well as at specialty baking and brewing supply stores.
  • If you don't have a sous vide machine, in step 8 you can place the bag of potato puree in a pot of water on the stove, or in a cooler filled with hot water. Just try to keep the water temperature as close to 52 °C / 126 °F as possible.
  • Raising the temperature of the puree in the final step of the recipe halts the enzymatic activity.

And, if you like the shirt I'm wearing, why not buy one for yourself?

Discussion

  1. Stef November 20, 2012 Reply

    In the additional steps there when it says ‘Just try to keep the water temperature as close to 75 °C / 167 °F as possible’ should the temperature not actually be ’52 °C / 126 °F’?

    • yznbrgr November 27, 2012 Reply

      Scott mentions in the video that the higher temperature is necessary to stop the enzymatic activity of the diastase.

      • Michael January 5, 2013 Reply

        Yes, a higher temperature is used to stop the enzymatic activity, but that is for the *final* step of the process. The author has since corrected the temperature for the 2nd step of the additional tips.

  2. Scott November 27, 2012 Reply

    Thanks, Stef! Great catch – we’ve made the update.

  3. Daniel December 5, 2012 Reply

    Is malted barley flour (bob’s red mill brand) an equivalent substitution?

  4. Adam December 21, 2012 Reply

    Daniel: Yes.

  5. Jonny January 3, 2013 Reply

    Cool recipe. I’d buy the shirt if it weren’t $40. Ridiculous.

    • Mike January 23, 2013 Reply

      Jonny – would reducing the sugar help? Or is the sweetness due to the diastatic malt powder? I didn’t like the potato puree from MC @home so I thought something with the malt powder might be worth a try.

  6. Jonny January 3, 2013 Reply

    Hmm, tried these out. The potatoes just taste like dextrose. While silky smooth, they are way way too sweet.

  7. PVSB January 16, 2013 Reply

    Instead of diastatic malt powder, may I use Amylase Enzyme powder?

  8. Graham January 17, 2013 Reply

    Scott, I’m looking for substitutes for the diastatic malt powder and malted barley flour. Is barley malt syrup going to be just as effective without changing anything too dramatically?

  9. troululu March 14, 2013 Reply

    A genious ?!? lol !
    if you want the enzyme, why not spit in the soup, saliva is full of enzymes too

  10. NannaEV April 7, 2013 Reply

    Have you tried pacotizing the pure?

    • Judy April 9, 2013 Reply

      We think it’s creamy enough as it is.

  11. Amanee May 21, 2013 Reply

    Would this work for taro root as well? Since there is more starch, do you need to increase the malt powder?

  12. Ellen November 6, 2013 Reply

    To help to counteract the sweetness, if you don’t mind a bit of spice, add a small chili pepper finely minced and extra salt. This will cut through some of the sweetness. Another way to get creaminess without the fat, as long as you’re not opposed to dairy, try plain Greek yogurt. Bake or boil the potatoes and set aside while you whip the yogurt on high and gradually add 1/3 cup milk and small cubes of the cooked potatoes into mixer. Salt and pepper.

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