Last Updated on January 14, 2023 by Shari Mason
From being used as a currency to becoming a food preservative, salt has played many important roles throughout human history. Nowadays, it is also popularly used as a flavor enhancer.
So, what does soaking potatoes in salt water do? Read on.
What Happens If You Soak Potatoes In Salt Water?
Potatoes will be firmer and crispier if you soak them in salt water before frying or cooking. Although it may seem like an extra step, this process will help you prepare the potatoes in advance.
“Salt has to penetrate a lot of mass in order to make it all the way through to the potatoes’ middles by the time they’re finished cooking.”– Molly Baz, Food Writer
You can start cooking the potatoes right after peeling them, but soaking them first has advantages.
What Does It Do?
It Removes Out Excess Starch
Excess starch can cause the outside of the potatoes to have a soft or gummy texture, which is not ideal if you’re aiming for crunchy fries. It also causes the fries to stick together, preventing them from cooking evenly.
It Draws Out Water
Potato cells contain more salt and less water. That’s why soaking potatoes in a bowl of salt water helps balance their concentrations.
This process is called osmosis, where the moisture is drawn out of the potato cells by higher salt concentration.
It Enhances the Flavor
Salt can effectively improve and increase the concentration of flavors of foods. You don’t really have to soak potatoes for a long time to improve the flavors.
Simply wetting them with salty water would be enough.
It Makes Your Potatoes Crispy
Just make sure that you’re placing the potatoes in a refrigerator.
It Reduces Oil Absorption & Frying Time
This process also helps prepare the potatoes for less frying time and reduces oil absorption, making them less greasy and healthier. Less moisture in your potatoes makes them more flavorful and crispy than soggy.
It Gives a Firmer Texture
Since soaking potatoes in salt water draws out excess moisture and reduces their ability to absorb oil, it helps them have a firmer texture. Surely, you would want your French fries and baked potatoes to be firm.
The Science Behind Soaking Potatoes In Salt Water
If the water in the bowl contains more salt than inside the potato cells, the water moves out of the potatoes and shrinks them.
It leads to shrinkage as the higher salt concentration draws in moisture.
Pros & Cons of Soaking It
- Removes excess moisture and starch that causes them to be chewy and gummy.
- It makes tastier, crispy, and firm fries.
- Prevents discoloration after peeling the potatoes.
- It takes a long time to prepare before cooking.
Should You Dry Potatoes After Soaking It In Salt Water?
Yes, you should dry potatoes after soaking them in salt water for the right amount of time. Rinse and drain the whole potatoes or fries and pat them down with a towel until they are dry.
Continue doing this process until you remove the excess moisture and the potatoes are ready to cook.
How Long Should You Soak Potatoes?
Leave the potatoes in salt water for 15 to 30 minutes before frying. But if needed, you can also soak them for no more than 24 hours.
For baked potatoes, you only need to soak the potatoes for about two to eight hours before cooking.
Preparing Potatoes In Advance
You can prepare the potatoes in advance for only up to 24 hours in the refrigerator when having big dinner parties.
How To Soak Potatoes In Salt Water
Fill a large bowl with cold water, ensuring you are not overfilling it and there’s enough space for the potatoes.
If making fries, add two tablespoons of salt, but add 1 cup of salt per 8 cups of water for baked potatoes. Soak the prepared potatoes, drain, dry, and cook them according to your chosen recipe.
Does salt water prevent discoloration on potatoes?
Yes, salt water helps prevent discoloration on potatoes. Oxidation will begin to change the color of the potatoes after peeling, making them less appealing.
Should you cut potatoes before soaking them in salt water?
Yes, cutting potatoes before soaking them in salt water exposes more surface area. It ensures that more starch and moisture are removed as much as possible.
What happens if you do not soak potatoes before frying?
The potatoes will stick together while frying if you do not soak them beforehand. The discoloration will also begin if the potatoes get exposed to the air longer.
Do you need to add vinegar to salt water?
No, it is not necessary to add vinegar to salt water. However, some people prefer to add a teaspoon or two of vinegar because it extracts more moisture and starch from the potatoes.
Generally, soaking potatoes in salt water is a matter of personal preference. However, this process helps draw out moisture and starch from the potatoes and make them crispier.
It also prevents discoloration of potatoes caused by oxidation after peeling and exposing them to air.
Ensure that you store the peeled and sliced potatoes in a properly covered bowl before placing them in the refrigerator.
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