Saturday, July 31, 2010

Syracuse Salt Potatoes

"Salt potatoes are bite-size "young" or "new" potatoes scrubbed and boiled in their skins. 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.
Salt potatoes are creamy as the starch in the potatoes cooks more completely due to the higher boiling temperature of the extra-salty water. The salty skin stands up particularly well to both herbed and plain melted butter.
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."
Wikipedia provided all this great background information about Salt Potatoes! 
Thanks to my husband's good friend from college, I discovered Salt Potatoes.  N and her husband R came down for B's 50th birthday party and part of their gift to him was a bag of Salt Potatoes.  At first, I thought that Salt Potatoes were an unusual gift but then I found out that they were a tradition in Syracuse going back to the 1800's!  
I used the recipe on the back of the bag of potatoes but since I didn't keep the bag I found a similar recipe on "" to share with you.  I also found another recipe on the NY Times website that looks interesting.  N told me you can buy any new potatoes and boil them in salt to create Salt Potatoes. You don't need to buy a bag marked "Salt Potatoes".  Not that I would ever find them down here in Maryland.  Salt Potatoes are excellent.  You must try them.  B told me that the ones I made tasted just like he remembered from his childhood!



4 pounds new potatoes
1-1/2 cups fine salt
8 tablespoons butter, melted


Wash the potatoes and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water; stir in salt until it no longer dissolves and settles on the bottom.
Place potatoes in the pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes.

Drain; cover to keep hot.

While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small pan over medium high heat, or in microwave. Serve immediately poured over potatoes.

New York Salt Potatoes

by Kim Severson (NY Times)
adapted from American Test Kitchens Recipe
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)

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.

Yield: Six servings


The Creative Cook