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Sep 22, 2009 01:16 AM

When boiing potatos, does salting the water add flavor?

When boiling potatos for mashed or for par-boiling, does salting the boiling water add flavor to the potatos or does it just lower the boiling temperature?

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  1. most definetly and absolutely. potatoes par-boiled in salted water also come out with crispier crust when made into french fries. do the exact opposite though if you were making mash potatoes or you'll end up with something gummy and pasty. boiling temperature IS NOT AFFECTED BY SALT!!! THIS IS AN ANCIENT MYTH excellently disproved by heston blumenthal and hugh fearnley-whittingstall.

    2 Replies
    1. re: epabella

      I'm not sure how boiling temperature is not affected by salt when it's scientific fact that salty water boils at a higher temperature. It's more than likely that the AMOUNT the temperature is raised isn't that much because most people don't add copious amounts of salt.

      In concerning the OP, potatoes need salt, plain and simple. It's true whether you roast them or mash them.

      1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

        i improperly recalled the kitchen chemistry episode. salt in edible quantities does raise the boiling temperature of water by an insignificant degree. two pots of potatoes (one with salted water, the other unsalted) cooked at the same amount of time.

        the myth disproved was that salt kept the green color in vegetables. there was another episode that showed mash potatoes boiled in salted water retained more water and thus was pastier and not as fluffy as those boiled in unsalted water.

    2. See for yourself. Boil one potato in plain water. Boil a similarly-sized spud the same length of time in heavily salted water, and taste both results. The salted water potato tastes much better.

      1. Yes - salting the water add the flavour of salt to your potatoes. I don't add salt to water but that's the personal preferance of someone who doesnt like the taste of salt.

        1. As an aside, I do as my mother did and add an onion to the water when I boil potatoes to add flavor. Usually don't salt the water.

          I thought salt raises the boiling temp a la pasta. No?

          1. Yes, not just improved flavor, but also texture! I grew up on upstate NY salt potatoes (basically, just young potatoes boiled in HEAVILY salted water--never woulda guessed that it's a regional thing, until I moved away!). They say that in addition to giving the skin a nice salty flavor that complements the butter, the salt makes the potatoes cook through better, which makes them have a more tender texture.

            1 Reply
            1. re: another_adam

              Yeah, I like how they sell 5# of "salt potatoes": 4# potatoes and 1# salt!

              First time I had salt potatoes was at the NYS Fair in Syracuse.