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Salt Potatoes–in the Mountains

If you aren’t from–you know, where I’m from (Syracuse, not Long Island), you may not know about salt potatoes.  And if you don’t, I’m really sorry, because they are just so darn delicious.

But before we get into that, let me show you where I am:

Oh, yes.  You’ll see much more of that later.

Plans for tomorrow involve a morning run, hiking (with bear spray), swimming, kayaking, and basically getting as much sun and fresh air as possible with Fritz, who hasn’t really seen the light of day since he started studying for his test. 

But back to the salt potatoes.  This isn’t much of a recipe, but more of an idea.  An inspiration, if you will.

Salt Potatoes

  • Baby potatoes (I’ve used baby red potatoes from my CSA box and white potatoes–both lovely)
  • Salt

Kinda makes sense, when you think about it. 

I’m not giving amounts of either because 1) it doesn’t matter all that much; 2) I probably don’t make them with the right amount of salt anyway since it horrifies me to add so much; and 3) it’s an inspiration, remember?  I’m not here to boss anyone around.

Start off by giving the baby potatoes a hearty scrub with a stiff brush and some water to clean them–no need to peel.  In fact, I’ll be mad if you do.  Maybe I am here to be a little bossy.

Dump in a pile of salt (I used sea salt and I’d estimate I used about 1/3 C to 1/2 C of salt for a few pounds of potatoes) into a pot.  And this is a VAST underestimation of how Syracusians really cook salt potatoes.  Wikipedia just told me to use a pound of salt for every four pounds of potatoes.  Another recipe said one cup of salt for six cups of water.   Add water and potatoes and bring to a rolling boil.

Try it the real way, at least once.  And then make it my way if it scares you to add a pound of salt to anything, even if you end up pouring most of it off.

Boil the potatoes in the salt water until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Last rule is this:  you must serve these potatoes with butter.  And I’m talking real butter.  Don’t show me margarine or vegetable oil based nonsense with these potatoes, please.  Please?  I’m begging you.  Do it right.

Unless you really can’t.  In that case, I still love you.  But dude, I just learned that I am totally bossy.

Apparently what magic happens in the pot is that the salt forms a crust around the potatoes, preventing them from getting watery and instead making them soft and creamy.  And salty.  And delicious.

Fritz and his dad manned the grill, making lamb chops (or tjops, in Afrikaans) and boerewors, which are possibly my absolute two favorite grillable meats in the history of the world since I met and married a South African.

Have you ever seen anything more perfect than this?:

Good night!

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  1. florence

    Hello , thanks for your beautiful photos.In France, we have salt potatoes, but we steam them with what we call a cocotte minute.In Italy ,they cook them with oregano.It’s really delicious.You can try on the grill.You make one potato in aluminium paper with salt and herbs .You close it.And you cook it until the heart of the potato is good.Have a nice day.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      sounds lovely! I’ll have to try that!

  2. Sara B.

    I’m curious to try these. I don’t think there is any way that they would be bad. Yummm.

    1. florence

      You could add olive oil (3 or 4 drops)with the potato or just after when it is hot.Bon appétit.

      1. Lauren Zietsman

        …because what doesn’t taste better with a little olive oil, right? :)

  3. Holly

    Wow your holiday looks beautiful and sounds idyllic! Food, air, gorgeous sights/lakes… Awesome Lauren! Where in Canada are you? I’ve never visited…

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I’m in British Columbia in Kootenay Lake–it is beautiful! Fritz’s parents live in Alberta, Cananda, and it’s gorgeous there, too!

  4. wherethinplacesare

    In California, we get a big bucket of water from the Pacific and boil the potatoes in that — yum!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      ooh that sounds so cool! I’ll have to recommend that to my sister who lives in Cali!

  5. Mary

    I was introduced to salt potatoes when my father’s job transferred him to Syracuse, and immediately fell in love. I have moved several times since then, but I still make salt potatoes. I do miss being able to buy the bag of potatoes complete with salt that were available in the grocery stores there.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I know, that is so convenient, but as soon as you find a ratio of salt-to-tater that you like, you can make your own :)

  6. Paulien van den Burg

    Hello Lauren, glad you’re enjoying your holiday! I sometimes wish to be living in Canada, but here I am, stuck in this small country named Holland. But: I went to Germany on my summervacation and guess what I’ve got on the side while eating a nice trout, saltzkartoffeln, hey your salt potatoes!
    Enjoy!

  7. Eli

    Hmmm, again, I think there is some discrepancy with the cooking time. ONLY 15-20 minutes to boil potatoes? I had to leave them in for an hour until they were done – when I took them out at 20 minutes, they were not even half done. So I put them back for another 20 minutes… still not done. Another 20 minutes… okay, I can work with this. I also put in plenty of salt, so I don’t think that had anything to do with it.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      bummer! I used very small baby potatoes so they boiled rather quickly and cooked through in that time–you’d definitely have to cook them longer if they were larger potatoes.

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