For perfect, light, crispy, delicious hash browns, every time, use this method. I'll also show some ways not to make hash browns, as well as an experiment showing what happens when you skip the crucial step.
Hash browns (along with biscuits, which I haven't yet mastered [edit: now I have! see here]), are the holy grail of breakfast. Done right, they are crispy, light, and delicious, worthy of every praise and love-song ever written in honor of food. Done wrong, they are mushy, soaked in oil, half-burned and mangled. They are, to borrow from the Grinch, "an appalling dump heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots".
But once you figure them out, they're surprisingly easy. Get excited.
What you need:
- A grater
- A strainer
- Oil or butter
- A frying pan & spatula
Step 2: Rinse Your Potato Shreds
This is where the magic happens. When you do this, you will see your shreds turn from a gray, mushy mass into crisp, white shreds of delicious potato goodness. According to the (always reliable) internet, you are removing "the starches" in this step. I'm not sure why this makes a difference, but it sure does. All the difference.
Step 3: Squeeze the Water Out
Some people will use a towel and twist it. Others get "potato-ricers" (giant garlic press type contraptions that will squeeze every last ounce of moisture from potato shreds). This is only necessary if you haven't already rinsed the potatoes. If you have rinsed them, then squeezing really isn't all that important (see the experiment at the end of this instructable).