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Salt potatoes

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Salt potatoes are bite-size "young" white potatoes scrubbed and boiled in their jackets. Salt is added to the water to the point of saturation, giving them their name, and unique flavor and texture. After cooking, salt potatoes are served with melted butter.

Left: Cooking salt potatoes.

Salt potatoes are a regional dish of Central New York, typically served in the summer when the young potatoes are first harvested. They are a staple food at fairs and barbecues. In this region, potatoes specifically intended to be made into salt potatoes can be purchased by the bag along with packages of salt during the summer months.

The Syracuse, New York area has a long history of salt production. Salt springs located around Onondaga lake were used to create consumable salt that was distributed throughout the northeast via the Erie Canal. Salinated water was laid out to dry on large trays. The salt residue was then scraped up, ground, and packaged. Salt potatoes were created in the nineteenth century by Irish immigrants working the springs who cooked their potatoes in the salty brine. The first packaged salt potatoes were sold in the 1960s.

Because extra-salty water boils at a higher temperature, the starch in the potatoes cooks more completely. Thatís why salt potatoes are so creamy. And the salty skin that forms on the outside of the potatoes stands up particularly well to herbed or even plain melted butter. Many recipes call for a ratio of four pounds of potatoes to one pound of salt.

New York Salt Potatoes Recipe Ingredients

  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cups of kosher salt (add another cup if using the Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 3 pounds well-scrubbed small red or white potatoes, as uniform in size as possible and with skins on
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • Freshly snipped herbs (optional)
  • Pepper.
 

Yield: Six servings

Recipe Cooking and Preparation Method

 
  1. Bring salt and water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes.

  2. Drain potatoes in a strainer and place pot back on stove over medium heat and add butter. When just melted, after about a minute, add potatoes and, if desired, herbs and black pepper. Toss and serve immediately.

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