Salt Potatoes

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I saw this recipe a couple of weeks ago on the blog Sinfully Tempting. I had never heard of salt potatoes – evidently they are a regional specialty of Syracuse, New York. From the description, I knew we had to try them. I read the recipe to Rich and Calvin and we decided to make them that night for dinner.

The concept is simple: you cook potatoes in heavily salted water to mimic cooking them in water from salt marshes. In the “olden days,” salt workers in New York took raw potatoes to work for lunch. They would cook the potatoes right in the vats of salt water they were boiling down to make salt.

The original post mentioned that the large amount of salt raises the boiling point of the water. I had to check this out, and it is true, at least according the sites I found. If I did the math and the metric conversions properly, and if the formula I was using is accurate, the boiling point of the water with that salt concentration is 216° F instead of 212°. No idea if this really affects how the potatoes cook, but they were extremely creamy and soft inside their salty skins.

At first I was taken aback at the amount of salt, but I followed the directions for once. And we weren’t disappointed. The potatoes were velvety and smooth inside their sparkly, salty crusts. A drizzle of butter and they were spectacular.

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The hardest part of this recipe was finding small potatoes. Sinfully Tempting recommended only white or yellow potatoes. She said the skins on red potatoes are too thin for the crust to form properly. I might have to test that theory next time, as new red potatoes are easier to find here than any other kind. Our potatoes were small, but they weren’t quite bite-sized, as specified in the original recipe. We were fine with cutting them into smaller pieces on our plates.

One word of warning – this is a lot of salt. It makes the water pop and spit salt residue all over the stove. It was nothing that a quick wipe down didn’t take care of, but it was a little surprising.

I think these would be spectacular to serve as appetizers at a party, if you can find tiny potatoes – hors d’oeuvre and conversation starter in one. Or just enjoy them as a new alternative to mashed or baked potatoes.

EDIT: I tried using new red potatoes and they worked just fine. The salt crust might have been a little thinner than on the yellow potatoes, but they were still wonderful.

Download or print the recipe here.

Salt Potatoes
Adapted by The Cook’s Life
from Sinfully Tempting
Serves 4-6

1½ pounds small potatoes
6 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons table salt
3-4 tablespoons butter, melted

Scrub potatoes well – you will be eating the skins. Combine the water and the salt in a pot that has at least a 3-quart capacity. The salt may not all dissolve, that is okay. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the water boils, add the potatoes. Lower the heat to medium and cover partially. Gently boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Salt and water may pop and spit. It cleans up easily and the mess is worth it.

Once potatoes are tender, use tongs to remove them to a wire cooking rack to dry and cool just a bit. The skins will look white and crusty with salt, which is what you want.

Serve potatoes hot, with melted butter for dipping or drizzling. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave. The salt crust will not be as evident on the leftovers, but you will still taste it.

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13 thoughts on “Salt Potatoes

  1. I am so glad you liked these! And yes, I forgot to mention the mess the salt residue can leave behind, haha. Thankfully I have a flat top stove that I was able to clean up with a quick wipe!

    I agree that the potatoes can be difficult to find, I guess it depends on location. In NY, they were easy to locate. However since moving to KY, I had to ask a gentleman in the produce department (turns out they were in special little 3 pound bags, nowhere near the other potatoes) and a bit higher in price…I think I pay about $6 for a 3 pound bag.

    I haven’t tried these using the new red potatoes, simply because of the amount of feedback over the years from those that have made the recipe with them. I may have to test it for myself, as well. If there isn’t much difference in the end result I will jump at the chance to save some money.

    Again, I am very happy to hear that you enjoyed them! 🙂

    • Thanks, Jeannette! They were fabulous! The potatoes weren’t exactly hard to find, but they were expensive. And they were right next to the cheaper red ones, which were also smaller. I might get some red ones and try them later this week. I’ll let you know how they turn out when I do make them. Thanks again for sharing the recipe on your blog!

  2. Well ladies, I do not know about this. You eat the skins with all the salt on it ? Can you peel the skin off if you don’t want to eat all that salt ?

    • You do eat the skins. I didn’t think they were too salty, and I don’t like things very salty. Bear in mind, the photos are greatly magnified. Each potato had a thin salty coating on it. I think if I didn’t want the salt I would just cook them another way, though, rather than trying to peel all those little potatoes. 🙂

  3. Sarah,
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’d tried salt roasted potatoes, baking on a bed of salt, and it just wasn’t . . . blog worthy, you know? I wonder if I used a tall pot (I’ve been canning small batches in a tall narrow pot, so it’s on the stove) if it would be less messy. I’ll report back and let you know–I’ve got the PERFECT plan for the post-boiling water that’s left over–to kill the weeds springing up in the patio!

    • A tall pot would help with the splattering. I borrowed your idea for the weeds. Just a note – pour the water on the weeds while it is hot. I waited until it was mostly cool and I had clumps of salt crystals in the bottom of the pot instead of dissolved in the water. It didn’t do anything to the weeds. I think they said thanks for the drink.

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