How much salt to boil potatoes in?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, ‘ How much salt should be added to boil potatoes?’. We will discuss the significance of salt when it is added to boiling water and the changes that potatoes undergo while boiling. 

We will consider the different quantities needed for the following kinds of salt:

  • Table salt
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Morton kosher salt
  • fleur de sel

When you boil potatoes, salt is an essential ingredient to add. Salt is a flavor enhancer added to every food imaginable. 

Adding salt while the potatoes are in the boiling process is important for adequate seasoning. No amount of salt that you add after cooking will compensate for the flavor. There is a scientific reason that makes salt addition a crucial step to getting your potatoes right. 

The time for salt addition is subjective; you can put it before or after the water boils.

Adding salt also modifies the texture of potatoes. Adding salt while boiling makes your potatoes softer with an even texture.

What happens to the potatoes as they boil?

Like any other cooking process, an irreversible chemical change occurs when we boil potatoes. Heating causes the cellular structure to breaks down and allows external molecules to pass. The starch granules absorb water and salt molecules and swell up as a result.

The process occurs at a molecular level while your potatoes boil and gain flavor all the way through. By letting salt penetrate every cell, you are maximizing the flavor of potatoes, which would otherwise not have been possible.

How much salt should I add while boiling potatoes?

Cut up the potatoes into pieces and put them into the pan of cold water. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt to your pan. The amount of salt to be added is variable and depends on a few factors.

We recommend that you add one tablespoon of salt for every pound of potatoes.

This salt recommendation is for averagely salted potatoes. If they are used as mashed potatoes, cutlets, or potato salad. If you like you can make potatoes heavily salted or follow the recipe for making salted potatoes.

However, while making salted potatoes, you can add as much as a cup of kosher salt to your boiling water. As the volume of water is large and the potatoes are a dense vegetable, it might need more than a few teaspoonfuls. The more salt you add, the richer the flavor you get.

After the potatoes have boiled, you need a lesser amount of salt for seasoning because boiling with salt has already flavored the potatoes enough.

To make salted potatoes, add four pounds of potatoes and 2 1/4 cups of salt. Cover and boil on high heat. 

The resulting salted potatoes will be highly-salted and the skin of the potatoes will be shriveled.

Why shouldn’t you miss out on adding salt to boiling water?

Potatoes are a starchy food that means their molecules open up as they boil and take up the salt from the boiling water. The starch molecules open up and absorb the water. When the potatoes cool down, the starch cells close again. 

If the water isn’t salted while boiling, the same extent of the richness will not be achieved. When you serve the potatoes, it will be impossible to flavor all the molecules of the potatoes.

This attribute of potatoes absorbing water can be exploited, even further. Besides salt, we can use parsley, herb, cajun, black pepper in the boiling water to let the potatoes soak up as much flavor as possible.

Some people even add butter, garlic, onion, broth to bring the flavor to the next level. 

If you are boiling potatoes or any other vegetable, you need at least 1 heaping teaspoon per quart. When your potatoes are already in the water-filled pan, you can choose to add the salt in whenever you like. If you put it in after the water boils, the salt will make the water bubble and splatter. You need to be cautious here.

If you are using a different salt, then the table salt adjusts the quantity according to the following ratios:

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt – double 

Maldon sea salt- double

Morton kosher salt- 50 % more

fleur de sel- 50 % more

Whenever you boil potatoes, remember to:

Leave the peel on – The nutrients inside potatoes are retained and do not leach out into the water.

Cut as small pieces as you can – The smaller the cut pieces, the quicker it cooks.

Bring the water and potatoes to boil at the same time – A gradual temperature increase makes the potatoes cook evenly.

In this brief guide, we answered the question ‘ How much salt should be added to boil potatoes?’. We also discussed the significance of salt and the impact it has on boiling water. 

Citations

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/salt-potatoes-recipe-1973521

https://www.tablespoon.com/meals/sides/how-to-boil-potatoes

https://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/how-to-boil-potatoes/#:~:text=Place%20Potatoes%20in%20a%20Large%20Saucepan&text=Add%20enough%20cold%20water%20to,and%20bring%20water%20to%20boiling.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-much-salt-is-in-boiling-salted-water-

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/salt-your-potato-water

https://cheftalk.com/threads/why-is-it-important-to-put-salt-in-cold-water-for-cooking-potatoes.65056/

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/102465/how-much-salt-do-potatoes-absorb-when-being-boiled

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/biggest-mistakes-making-mashed-potatoes/

https://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/how-to-boil-potatoes/

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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