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Subject: Poking holes in potatoes.......
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking

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From: Alan Moorman[at]visi.com
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 13:17:59 -0600
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Okay....

When I got my first microwave, I tended to poo-poo the idea
that a potato will explode while it is being nuked.

Tried it, and had no problem.  

So, for 8 or 10 years I just put them in and nuked them

Then, one day, one exploded!!!!

Nice mess to clean up, but easier than if it had been the
gas oven!

However, from them I've stabbed a hole all the way into the
center of each potato, with a fork.  All the way to the
center seemed the best way to insure that I had made a
passage way which would let steam out.

Then, one day, at work, I saw a co-worker pricking little,
tiny holes in her potato, with a fork.  She was barely
penetrating the skin!

Shocking thought:   Maybe they don't explode, as a rule.

I can only remember one potato exploding in my Mom's
conventional oven over many a year.

The one that exploded in my microwave was the only one that
did that in a period of 8 - 10 years!

Maybe this is just, largely, a myth!

Here comes the question(s):

1.  Does the potato need to have deep holes poked in it,
into the center, to let the steam out so it won't explode.

2.  Will tiny prickings which just pierce the skin keep the
potato from exploding.

3.  As a rule, do potatoes actually explode when they're
being baked -- microwave or conventional oven? 

Whatcha think?

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From: JoeSpareBedroom 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 19:21:55 GMT
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I pierce the skin plus maybe 1/8" for conventional baking. Works fine. I've 
never seen a potato explode in the conventional oven, even when I've tried 
to rush things by cranking the heat to 550 degrees. 

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From: merryb 
Date: 22 Feb 2007 11:29:37 -0800
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I blew one up in a conventional oven just a few weeks ago! First time,
too. I think it was too hot. But I always poke them before baking

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From: Skyhooks 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 14:06:33 -0600
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merryb wrote:
> I blew one up in a conventional oven just a few weeks ago! First time,
> too. I think it was too hot. But I always poke them before baking

I had a couple of spuds blow up in my toaster oven, and I always poked
holes in the skins of potatoes when I bake them.  It's not a frequent
thing, but the chance of an exploding spud/tuber is increased if the
skin is not pierced to release the build-up of steam.  At least that's
always been my understanding.

============================

From: James Silverton 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 14:24:37 -0500
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I've never dared try nuking potatoes without pricking the. I 
generally us a carving fork and stab them four or five times, 
turning the potatoes between stabs.

============================

From: James Silverton 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 14:26:53 -0500
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James Silverton wrote:
> I've never dared try nuking potatoes without pricking the. I
> generally us a carving fork and stab them four or five times,
> turning the potatoes between stabs.

Sorry about the spelling; I hurt my thumb and am wearing a 
brace.

============================

From: Melba's Jammin' 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 14:06:14 -0600
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Alan Moorman wrote:

> 1.  Does the potato need to have deep holes poked in it,
> into the center, to let the steam out so it won't explode.

No.
 
> 2.  Will tiny prickings which just pierce the skin keep the
> potato from exploding.

Yes.
 
> 3.  As a rule, do potatoes actually explode when they're
> being baked -- microwave or conventional oven? 

Ida Know.  I always poke mine -- with the tip of a paring knife in about 
3 places, maybe 1/8" deep.

============================

From: Sheldon 
Date: 22 Feb 2007 12:16:05 -0800
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Melba's Jammin' wrote:
> I always poke mine -- with the tip of a paring knife in about
> 3 places, maybe 1/8" deep.

Me too.

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From: Nancy2 
Date: 22 Feb 2007 12:40:39 -0800
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Sheldon wrote:
> Me too.

Maybe I'll have one blow up - I've never poked holes in a "bare-naked"
potato before nuking it or baking it in an oven.  I've never had one
explode.  I do scrub them really well with a stiff nylon scrubber
before baking.

============================

From: Sheldon 
Date: 22 Feb 2007 13:14:15 -0800
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Nancy2 wrote:
> Maybe I'll have one blow up - I've never poked holes in a "bare-naked"
> potato before nuking it or baking it in an oven. 	've never had one
> explode. 	 do scrub them really well with a stiff nylon scrubber
> before baking.

Most spuds on there way from the ground to your kitchen do suffer a
few bumps, cuts, and abrasions, so there are almost always a few
breaks in the skin already.  But ever so often there will be a virgin
potato, and that will be the one that is very likely to explode.  It's
no biggie to poke a few holes, better safe than sorry.

============================

From: JoeSpareBedroom 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 21:19:13 GMT
--------
Nancy2 wrote:
> Maybe I'll have one blow up - I've never poked holes in a "bare-naked"
> potato before nuking it or baking it in an oven.  I've never had one
> explode.  I do scrub them really well with a stiff nylon scrubber
> before baking.

Another reason to poke holes is to get a drier texture. But, I predict that 
at least 3 people will disagree with this, and that'll add 346 more messages 
to the discussion. So you should try baking two potatoes - one with holes, 
one without, and see if the difference matters to you. 

============================

From: Dave Smith 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 15:16:27 -0500
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I have never had one explode.  I was learned a long, long time ago to
always prick potatoes when baking. I have always done it. I have never had
one explode.

============================

From: Jill McQuown 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 14:27:29 -0600
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Alan Moorman wrote:
> Then, one day, at work, I saw a co-worker pricking little,
> tiny holes in her potato, with a fork.  She was barely
> penetrating the skin!

Just prick the skin with a fork, maybe 1/4 inch in.  Just enough to allow
the pressure to release... that's really all that is required.  No need to
stab it to death.  Whether you do it in an oven or in the microwave, it's
gonna explode if you don't allow the steam to release.  And whatever you do,
don't think you can boil an egg in the microwave.  Ain't gonna happen
without making a huge mess.

============================

From: James Silverton 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 16:13:22 -0500
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Jill wrote:
> Just prick the skin with a fork, maybe 1/4 inch in.  Just enough to allow
> the pressure to release... that's really all that is required.  No need to
> stab it to death.  Whether you do it in an oven or in the microwave, it's
> gonna explode if you don't allow the steam to release.  And whatever you do,
> don't think you can boil an egg in the microwave.  Ain't gonna happen
> without making a huge mess.

I know someone who tried cooking an egg in it's shell.....new 
microwave needed!

============================

From: Jill McQuown 
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 02:25:42 -0600
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James Silverton wrote:
> I know someone who tried cooking an egg in it's shell.....new
> microwave needed!

My father tried to boil an egg in the microwave.  He got one of the first
microwaves, an Amana Radar Range back around 1969 or 1970.  And he put an
egg in the shell in water and set the thing on High for a minute.  It didn't
have any other settings, just High, Medium, Low.  This thing had no popcorn
settings, no bacon settings, no baked potato settings, no frozen dinner
settings.  This was way back when, ya know?  Way back when no one cooked
with microwave ovens.

And Dad was quite surprised when the egg in the shell exploded!  Guess what?
You still can't boil an egg in the microwave!  LOL

============================

From: Alan Moorman[at]visi.com
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 10:29:56 -0600
--------
Jill McQuown wrote:
>Just prick the skin with a fork, maybe 1/4 inch in.  Just enough to allow
>the pressure to release... that's really all that is required.  No need to
>stab it to death.  Whether you do it in an oven or in the microwave, it's
>gonna explode if you don't allow the steam to release.  And whatever you do,
>don't think you can boil an egg in the microwave.  Ain't gonna happen
>without making a huge mess.

For all you who just prick the skin....

I'm quite sure that the skin on a potato isn't air tight.  I
don't think it could cause the potato to explode.

I think that, if a potato explodes, it is because steam is
generated deep inside the potato, and has nowhere to go.
Hence deep poking if more effective.

However, I'm beginning to think that potatoes virtually
never explode, and the whole issue of holing them is just
something that is not necessary!

============================

From: Default User 
Date: 23 Feb 2007 17:58:30 GMT
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Alan Moorman wrote:

> I think that, if a potato explodes, it is because steam is
> generated deep inside the potato, and has nowhere to go.
> Hence deep poking if more effective.

As the heat works its way from the skin inward, I think it's far more
likely that steam pockets form just under the skin, not at the center,
and cause the explosions.

> However, I'm beginning to think that potatoes virtually
> never explode, and the whole issue of holing them is just
> something that is not necessary!

You only need one to go on you, it makes one hell of a mess. Poking a
few holes doesn't take long, and if it prevents a blow-up, well worth
the effort.

Brian

============================

From: Ken Knecht 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 18:10:47 GMT
--------
Default User wrote:
> You only need one to go on you, it makes one hell of a mess. Poking a
> few holes doesn't take long, and if it prevents a blow-up, well worth
> the effort.

I don't poke holes in baked potatoes. I make baked potatoes frequently. 
I've never had a baked potato explode in the oven.

============================

From: William Wagner 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:20:27 -0500
--------
Default User wrote:
> You only need one to go on you, it makes one hell of a mess. Poking a
> few holes doesn't take long, and if it prevents a blow-up, well worth
> the effort.

 I stab em with a paring knife twice.  Sometimes grill/bake  them  on a 
gas grill. I wrap in foil then wet paper towel then foil again.  Place 
in heat  and do other things for about 1 or 2 hours. 

 Inside I bake my spuds in kosher salt or at least coat them when lasy.  
Read something about Aztecs doing it to remove toxins and not telling 
the Spanish about it.  Seems they not only gave us syphilis  but  
arthritis due to Solanceae family toxins. :) Pay backs are  hell.
Don't ask for a source as it is lost in time.

 Still (Yin) tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and less so eggplant grace our 
table weekly.  The power of taste.

============================

From: kilikini 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 15:38:52 -0500
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William Wagner wrote:
>  I stab em with a paring knife twice.  Sometimes grill/bake  them  on
> a gas grill. I wrap in foil then wet paper towel then foil again.
> Place in heat  and do other things for about 1 or 2 hours.

If you wrap the potatoes in foil, technically you're steaming them.  If you
like them that way, that's okay, but I prefer the crispy, outside baked
skin.

============================

From: Peter Aitken 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 17:38:21 -0500
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William Wagner says...
> I stab em with a paring knife twice.  Sometimes grill/bake  them  on a 
> gas grill. I wrap in foil then wet paper towel then foil again.  Place 
> in heat  and do other things for about 1 or 2 hours. 

Then you get a steamed potato, totally different from a baked potato.

============================

From: James Silverton 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 18:16:59 -0500
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William Wagner wrote:
>  Inside I bake my spuds in kosher salt or at least coat them when lasy.  
> Read something about Aztecs doing it to remove toxins and not telling 
> the Spanish about it.  Seems they not only gave us syphilis  but  
> arthritis due to Solanceae family toxins. :) Pay backs are  hell.

Someone said Cortez did the Mexicans a favor when he stopped 
Aztec open heart surgery!

============================

From: William Wagner 
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 19:00:07 -0500
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James Silverton wrote:
> Someone said Cortez did the Mexicans a favor when he stopped 
> Aztec open heart surgery!

 I guess us gringo's  lost the message  when you look at all the CABG  
Coronary Artery Bypass Graph's we do.

============================

From: Default User 
Date: 23 Feb 2007 22:47:44 GMT
--------
Ken Knecht wrote:
> I don't poke holes in baked potatoes. I make baked potatoes
> frequently.  I've never had a baked potato explode in the oven.

That's fine. I have. It makes a hell of a mess. Trust me. Bits of stuck
all over the inside of the oven.

============================

From: little.malice[at]gmail.com (Little Malice)
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 22:27:26 GMT
--------
Alan Moorman wrote:
>3.  As a rule, do potatoes actually explode when they're
>being baked -- microwave or conventional oven? 
>
>Whatcha think?

Hmmm, my mother taught me to use a potato nail, which conducts the heat 
through the middle. She never said anything about potatoes exploding, and 
I've never had it happen. I've always thought that was a microwave related
problem...

============================

From: James Silverton 
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 17:34:19 -0500
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Little.malaice wrote:
> Hmmm, my mother taught me to use a potato nail, which conducts the heat 
> through the middle. She never said anything about potatoes exploding, and 
> I've never had it happen. I've always thought that was a microwave related
> problem...

A potato nail does cut the needed cooking time noticeably for 
oven baking. It probably wouldn't help much for nuking and there 
might be some interesting sparking even if it would release the 
steam!

============================

From: Default User 
Date: 22 Feb 2007 23:40:55 GMT
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Little Malice wrote:
> Hmmm, my mother taught me to use a potato nail, which conducts the
> heat through the middle. She never said anything about potatoes
> exploding, and I've never had it happen. I've always thought that was
> a microwave related problem...

Not at all. I had one blow up in the oven years ago. Made quite a mess
inside, but on the upside the potato that remainded in the skin was
very fluffy and tasty. Kind of a popcorn deal.

============================

From: Little.Malice[at]gmail.communge (Little Malice)
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 18:14:58 GMT
--------
One time on Usenet, Default User said:

> Not at all. I had one blow up in the oven years ago. Made quite a mess

I guess I've just been very lucky over the years, having never had 
that happen. I have, however, blown up a couple of hard cooked eggs,
before Nancy taught me the proper way to cook them. Cleaning egg
off the ceiling is not fun.

> inside, but on the upside the potato that remainded in the skin was
> very fluffy and tasty. Kind of a popcorn deal.

Yum! Wonder if one could do a controlled potato explosion...

============================

From: Alan Moorman[at]visi.com
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 10:33:46 -0600
--------
Little Malice wrote:
>Hmmm, my mother taught me to use a potato nail, which conducts the heat 
>through the middle. She never said anything about potatoes exploding, and 
>I've never had it happen. I've always thought that was a microwave related
>problem...

Yeah, me too.

However, an interesting thing happens when I poke a hole all
the way to the center of the potato -- with a fork.

When the potato cooks (in the microwave) the side of the
potato that I pierced with the fork cooks more quickly than
the other side.   Steam is clearly being vented through the
holes from the fork -- and it is apparently coming from the
center of the potato.

To make it cook evenly, it is necessary to use the fork
twice, on opposite sides of the potato (going all the way to
the center).

However, this doesn't matter to me, because I nuke a potato
before I mash it, and any texture variations just make the
mashed potatoes more interesting to me.

============================

From: sf
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 21:41:15 -0800
--------
Alan Moorman wrote:
>Then, one day, one exploded!!!!

From *pure* experience, I can tell you that potatoes can explode even
if they are fully baked in the oven.  You never know when a
*defective* potato is going to appear, so you have to roll with the
punches.

============================

From: Doug Weller 
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 20:46:00 +0000
--------
sf wrote:
>From *pure* experience, I can tell you that potatoes can explode even
>if they are fully baked in the oven.  You never know when a
>*defective* potato is going to appear, so you have to roll with the
>punches.

I've had one explode in the oven also.

============================

From: KevinS 
Date: 23 Feb 2007 13:02:53 -0800
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Alan Moorman wrote:
> Then, one day, one exploded!!!!

I always poke baking potatoes. I've never had one explode.
I did once have a sweet potato explode. It had been poked.

============================

From: Little.Malice[at]gmail.communge (Little Malice)
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 18:16:21 GMT
--------
One time on Usenet, KevinS said:
> I always poke baking potatoes. I've never had one explode.
> I did once have a sweet potato explode. It had been poked.

Well apparently you didn't poke to its satisfaction, Kevin... ;-> 

============================

From: stark 
Date: 24 Feb 2007 05:01:38 -0800
--------
Alan Moorman wrote:
> 3.  As a rule, do potatoes actually explode when they're
> being baked -- microwave or conventional oven?

Had one in thirty years explode. Properly scrubbed and poked. I think
it was caused by some anomaly, maybe an air pocket, deep inside the
potato. Don't know when it exploded, early or late, but most of the
fragments seemed cooked.

============================

From: Sheldon 
Date: 24 Feb 2007 07:44:22 -0800
--------
Alan Moor wrote:
> 3. s a rule, do potatoes actually explode when they're
> being baked -- microwave or conventional oven?

As a rule nuked spuds ain't baked, they're steamed, pretty much the
same results were they wrapped in foil and then baked.

Even though un-poked spuds rarely explode it only needs to happen once
to make anyone a convert... what a friggin' mess.  The reason most
spuds don't explode is because most all are already compromised by
bumps, cuts, and abrasions during normal handling before you get
them.  I don't see the big deal in puncturing their skins, only needs
a couple three jabs, not turn it into a sieve.

But more than that, poking a few holes in a potato makes for dryer,
fluffier insides regardless whether baked conventionally or nuked.


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