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What Does Soaking Potatoes In Salt Water Do

What Does Soaking Potatoes In Salt Water Do? Solved

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Shari Mason

The importance of salt throughout human history ranges from its function as a medium of exchange to its utilization in food preservation. Today, it is highly regarded for its ability to enhance flavors.

So, what does soaking potatoes in salt water do? Read on.

What Happens If You Soak Potatoes In Salt Water?

soaked potatoes in 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.

Read:

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. But how can you fix salty mashed potatoes?

It Makes Your Potatoes Crispy

Soaking potatoes in salt water before cooking produces crispier potatoes [1]. You can do it for at least several minutes or soak the potatoes overnight.

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

Potatoes can expand or shrink depending on the salt content of the water because of osmosis [2]

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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • It takes a long time to prepare before cooking.

Should You Dry Potatoes After Soaking It In Salt Water?

potatoes with water on a basin

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?

French Fries

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.

Baked Potatoes

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.

FAQs

u003cstrongu003eDoes salt water prevent discoloration on potatoes?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, salt water helps prevent discoloration on potatoes. Oxidation will begin to change the color of the potatoes after peeling, making them less appealing. 

u003cstrongu003eShould you cut potatoes before soaking them in salt water?u003c/strongu003e

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. 

u003cstrongu003eWhat happens if you do not soak potatoes before frying?u003c/strongu003e

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. 

u003cstrongu003eDo you need to add vinegar to salt water?u003c/strongu003e

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. 

Final Verdict

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.

References:

  1. https://lifehacker.com/how-to-make-the-worlds-crispiest-french-fries-5993780
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/make-a-potato-shrink-with-saltwater/
Shari Mason

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