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Sep 2, 2007 05:46 PM

Boiling Potatoes

This is something that's been on my mind for a while. Many recipes/directions for boiling potatoes for potato salad usually include directions along the lines of, "Scrub potatoes and boil until easily pierced with a knife. Remove and drain. Once cool enough to handle, peel and chunk/dice the potatoes."

I don't know that I've ever seen a recipe that directs the cook to peel (if the potatoes need to be peeled - some recipes leave the peel on, of course) and dice/chunk the potatoes and then to boil them.

It seems to me that peeling and chunking/dicing before cooking would save time. But does that affect the finished product? Do the potatoes absorb more water and therefore make the resulting potato salad watery?

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  1. I can't say that I have ever looked at a potato salad recipe, I have always made potato salad the same way as my mom does. But when I make Portuguese codfish fritters, I boil the potatos with the skin on. It is exactly as you thought, it keeps the potato from absorbing water.

    1. I've always chunked mine. It never occurred to me not to. I boil potatoes more for mashing than potato salad, but I've never had a problem with too much liquid.

      1. Always whole for a drier product in my kitchen.

        1. You may be using the wrong potatoes. I use red potatoes because they are waxy. I cut them in half, boil and drain carefully and chunk. While they are hot I sprinkle them with salt and vinegar. Let them sit until they cool and you can deal with them for the salad.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Gail

            I have always made potato salad by peeling them then mashing them and then I started
            boiling the potatoes with the jackets/or skin on them and let cool then peel them. and
            then cut them up in chunks and I always use russets. and boiling with the skin on them you will get a better taste then if you peel them first. i make a basic potato salad by
            just puting onion,pickle, mayonaise, season with salt/pepper with the potatoes. and
            my family just loves that way.

            1. re: bigjimbray

              I forgot to add boiled eggs in my salad.

          2. Peeling or not peeling makes a differece. The potatoes will have more moisture if you boil with the peels off. It can be a subtle difference, but sometimes it is not. In my experience the kind of potatoe makes a difference too (low starch like Red potatoes or Yukon Gold vs more starchy Russets). The russets can get very soggy and definitely benefit from cooking with the peel on. I prefer low starch varieties for potatoe salad because they have a firmer texture and I like the way they taste. The size of the potatoe also makes a difference. Smaller is better because the peels are in better shape (you may prefer to eat them with the peels on), and the texture is better (less starch, More firm). Try to buy potatoes that are the same size so that they cook at the same rate and finish cooking at the same time.
            Scrub them, then put them in a pot of cold water and bring them to a boil (they cook faster this way because they come up to temp with the water instead of waiting for the water to boil and then waiting for the potatoes to come up to temp and cook). You can salt the water if you want (I don't). When they are done you can peel them or not as soon as they are cool enough to handle (I don't because the peels taste good), then cut them up for your salad.
            Leaving the peels on gets you a better tater in the end and they are faster and easier to prepare with the peels on.