Hash browns are a favorite breakfast dish in many parts of the world. Their name comes from the word hacher in French, which means “chopped.” Next time you look at a plate of hash browns, you can think of them as chopped potatoes.
Interesting name aside, the real question is how long these dishes last. Many of us have had a serving or two in our kitchen at one time or another. Whether it’s a bag of frozen hash browns, a take-home box from our favorite restaurant, or homemade golden goodness, it’s important to know whether they’ll be good to eat for long.
Do hash browns go bad?
Yes, they do. How long they last depends on how they were made and how they have been stored.
Freezer: Packaged Hash Browns
The bags of hash browns you can buy from the freezer aisle can last about eight months, as long as they are properly stored. After that, they will continue to be safe to eat for a short while, but the taste will decline significantly.
Keep in mind that you should eat your hash browns within one day of thawing them out. It’s not a good idea to re-freeze them after you’ve taken them out to cook.
Be sure to check for freezer burn and other indications of the food spoiling, such as mold or a bad smell. If you notice these things, it’s time to throw them out.
Freezer: Homemade Hash Browns
You can’t freeze uncooked potatoes, but you can freeze your homemade hash browns for a long time. Keep in mind that you aren’t frying these yet.
First, bake your potatoes and then cool them in the refrigerator.
Once they are cooled, you can chop them into hash brown sizes and put them in the freezer.
From there, you can keep them safe for up to a year. You will fry them when you want to eat them.
Fridge: Restaurant Take Home Box
Because these have been fully prepared with the expectation that you will eat them right away, they will not last as long as frozen (pre-fried) hash browns. You can expect them to last at least 24 hours, but they may last as long as two or three days.
As always, you should check for signs of the food going bad, such as mold or an unpleasant smell or taste. If you notice anything wrong, you should throw the food away. Otherwise, you may risk stomach upset or food poisoning.
Maybe you brought home some hash browns and got distracted with something else before you could eat them. How long are they safe to consume?
Most cooked food is considered unsafe to eat after being out for two hours. This is because bacteria can start to grow and replicate quickly between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer food is sitting out at room temperature, the more likely it is to contain bacteria that will make you sick.
How to know when hash browns have gone bad
The best way to check your hash browns to see if they’ve gone bad is to follow these steps:
- Smell them. If they smell like anything other than potatoes, something is wrong. Usually, potatoes that have gone off have a mildewy odor. Also, anything sour or musty in odor is a bad sign.
- Look at them. Check for signs of mold. If something is there that shouldn’t be, these potatoes are headed for the trash.
- Poke them. Take a fork and see what happens when you touch the hash browns. If they crumble instead of sticking to your fork, then they’re past their prime and ready for the garbage.
Can you get sick from eating expired hash browns?
Most printed expiration dates on food are provided as guides for the best time to eat it for optimum taste. If you eat something after the suggested eat-by date, you won’t necessarily get food poisoning. However, you are running a higher risk with every day that passes beyond that date.
The reason for this is that various foods have different shelf lives. Potatoes are no exception. Hash browns are subject to problems like freezer burn, mold, and other problems that can lead to gastrointestinal distress if you eat them when they’ve gone bad.
Always look closely at food to make sure it hasn’t gone bad before you eat it. You will not enjoy the food quite as much if it makes you sick just a few hours later.
Are hash browns healthy foods?
Somewhat. Depending on your dietary restrictions, hash browns may be a good choice, or they may be something to avoid.
On one hand, they’re usually made in a fryer, which tends to use a lot of oils that aren’t exactly health food ingredients. In addition to that, they’re packed with carbs.
If you’re trying to reduce the number of carbohydrates you’re eating every day, hash browns won’t do you many favors.
However, hash browns are notoriously overflowing with vitamins and minerals that can be excellent for many people who need to bulk up their vitamin intake. With a helping of hash browns, you treat yourself to vitamins C, B1, B3, and B6, all of which are critical for optimum health.
You also get folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamin. That’s a lot of vitamins and minerals in one little dish.