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while we're on the subject of potato salad...

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Sometimes when I make potato salad, after it's refrigerated for a while it gets watery. This is for a mayonaise based salad, with onion, celery, hard cooked egg, etc, and even though I do drain the potatoes well, this sometimes happens. Any ideas on how to prevent?

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  1. I wonder if your mayo isn't reacting with the onion and celery? These are the only juicy ingredients in your list. Salt and acid can cause the juices to leach out. I would add the mayo just before serving. Hope this helps.

    1. I think you have a point about onion and celery reacting with the salt...but what if one needs to make the salad ahead, and I actually like it when it's been well-chilled. There must be a way, without adding the mayo at the last minute, no?

      1 Reply
      1. re: JPomer

        If you want to mix all the ingredients together well before serving you have to treat the onion somehow - my guess is this is the main culprit. There are a few ways to do this:

        (1) macerate the onion with salt before adding it to your salad. A heavy sprinkling of salt rubbed into the onions will draw out most of the liquid in about 15 - 30 minutes. Drain off, rinse if you have salt residue, put into salad. This will have less crunch than untreated onions but shouldn't be watery.

        (2) cook the onions. This definitely changes both taste and texture, but most German potato salads do this so it's not totally crazy. A quick saute in oil will seal in the onion juices.

        (3) substitute for the onions. Again this changes the salad, but another member of the onion family with less juice will give you a similar flavor - I'm thinking of scallions or green garlic.

      2. If you are using a low fat mayo, that may be your problem. It does tend to get watery

        1. No. Regular Best Foods/Hellman's

          1. This only happens to me sometimes. I am convinced it has to do with the freshness of the potatoes and the onion. Probably more likely the onion.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Subee

              I actually always thought it was the celery, because it happens occasionally with my egg salad. Interesting that you use egg & celery in the potato salad- maybe it's the eggs, because I've never had the problem with chicken salad.

              1. re: pamd

                I just ate a chicken salad sandwich. I made the salad last night. It happened to this batch. I don't know how long that red onion has been in my fridge. Regardless it was delicious!

            2. Try putting your drained potatoes back into the (dry) hot pot you've just taken them from, put over medium heat, and let the potatoes dry briefly to rid them of all excess moisture. It just takes a moment. This works better, I suppose, if you're using whole or halved potatoes instead of cubes, but that might work, too, if you're careful not to let them stick and/or disintegrate.

              1. I do always return the potatoes to the pot to dry them out. I'm convinced it's something with the celery and onions. There must be a way, though, because delis and such make these salads way in advance. Unlesss the leave out the celery and onion altogether.

                2 Replies
                1. re: JPomer

                  Potatoes don't leach liquid. When warm, they absorb it.

                  1. re: cheryl_h

                    Good point.

                2. yu are absolutely correct that it is the onion and celery that are leaching their juices into the salad. a cure i have used for years (thanks, mom!) is to blanch the vegetables by dropping them (chopped, of course) into the pot with the boiling potoatoes for about 30 seconds maximum and allow to drain fully along with the spuds. i always add my dressing to the hot goods rather than allow anything to cool but this refinement has nothing to do with your problem