Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What do you do with left over potato water?

I was reading the Dollar Stretcher website this morning and found an article about potato water that sounded interesting.

Here was the question:
Does anyone do anything with the water that is left from boiling potatoes? I have a pot of potatoes boiling and am thinking there has to be something useful I can do with that water when I drain my potatoes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Here were the responses:
I use it for soups, gravies, liquid in baking biscuits, breads, pancakes

It is perfect for yeast breads along with powdered milk.. Also, for mashed potatoes, save the hot potato water, mix in powdered milk, add both to your potatoes, and mash away! Also useful for thickening soups.

I used to always pour the water off the potatoes, until I saw how my old boyfriend's mother made her potato soup. She left the water in there, and actually, it was pretty good. I like her soup, it tasted more potato-y. My version: leave the water, add some milk, then add some powdered milk to make a milkier consistency.

In the Little House Book " The Long Winter" the family made a Christmas dinner in May when their Christmas barrel arrived. There is a passage that reads that there is no milk for the mashed potatoes. Ma tells Laura " Leave a very little of the boiling water in, and after you mash them beat them extra hard with the big spoon."
The potatoes turned out white and fluffy. So you can use a bit of the boiling water to mash potatoes. I also know someone who pours off a bit of the boiling water into a pan, adds a bit of salt and pepper, brings it back to a boil and drinks a bit of the potato water as a type of broth drink.

I keep it in a glass jar in the refrigerator. It keeps for several days - probably up to a week, but I usually use it for something before then. If it gets too gray or yucky looking, I get rid of it. A tight fitting lid helps it last longer.

I drain my potatoes into another pan and continue to cook it down quite a bit. Then I freeze it with my stocks and use it in soups, stews, breads, gravies, etc. Usually gravies are the one I use it in most, make excellent gravy.

Some of my favorite recipes use potato water, cinnamon rolls & potato rolls, I often have too much extra water from cooking vegetables but I pour it over my favorite garden plants to give them the extra nutrients.

You never mentioned if you peeled your potatoes or kept the skins on. This hint would be for peeled potatoes. A use not mentioned, is starching. In the days before my time, when commercial starch was not available, a starch water solution was made. If the water is clear enough, dipping your clothing into the starchy potato water would work. If you make latke's, you usually grate the potato into cold water. The starch will settle on the bottom of the bowl. In the story of Mrs. Tiggywinkle, by Beatrix Potter, the washerwomen hedgehog character was taken from an old Scottish washerwomen that she knew. The character in the story prided herself in being an excellent clear starcher, so I am assuming that the "real" washer women did as well. Another recipe for starch is to boil one teaspoon of rice in a quart of water and remove the rice.

My Great Aunt used to let the potato water cool and then wash her face in it (obviously after removing the cooked potatoes). She claimed the starch helped preserve her skin. She'd then rinse off with fresh water and soap.

Note from Lucy: I cooked some potatoes on Sunday for a potato salad and poured that water right down the drain. Now I know that I can experiment with using potato water. If you have any uses for potato water, let's hear it.


At 9:29 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Hi Neighbor Lucy, thanks for the visit to my blog this morning. You are an early riser. I'm assuming you blog a little before you go off to work.

I'm hoping to post more of about our Scotland visit, probably next Tuesday. In between I will perhaps use a picture from there and also may throw up a little over at my PHOTO PLACE. But not the major posts like this one was.

Wednesday, for instance, I will have a picture of the four leaf clover stem that I found in these Drummond Gardens. Wednesdays are Wordless Wednesdays for me over there.
instead of my regular blog,

Boiled potato water? We generally don't save it or use it. When I mash potatoes I generally leave a little water to mix in with the skim milk.

Mostly though, I bake my potatoes and there isn't any potato water. That way they have all their vitamins (and starches). Baked potatoes work fine for potato salad and will mash.

Mashed baked potatoes aren't for making a pure white mashed potato dish as they are slightly yellow. Since my base for potato salad is mustard and light mayo, and a little egg minus some of the yoke, those slightly yellow potatoes blend right in.

Oh yes, if you are avoiding a lot of starch in foods, boil the potatoes and throw the water out. Then rinse those potatoes in hot or cold water. A lot of starch boils out, just like in boiled spaghetti.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Myrna said...

Thanks for visitng my blog! Come on back anytime.

I don't boil potatoes often--occasionally for potato saled or mashed potatoes.I usually just pour it down the drain. Jim makes a good point aobut baking potatoes for potato salad. I have never done that--good idea.

I think you have it covered on ideas for the water--Have to give that some thought.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Lucy, soon I will post Mom's recipe for Runzas. The Runza is the Nebraska National Food.

Basically Runzas are made with cooked cabbage and maybe just a little onion mixed with ground beef and all baked inside a bread dough.

It started back when I was in college in Lincoln from a little shack out by Antelope Park. Now there is a franchised fast food chain, the Runza Hut.

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Dawn said...

That was very useful for me and I'm def. going to print this out. I am all the time making mashed potatoes and potatoe salad so I'm going to try and use the leftover water! Thanks for sharing!

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Susie said...

Hi Lucy,
I had never thought of saving the potato water. Mine also just goes down the drain and fogs up my glasses in the process!
Lots of good ideas here..Thanks for sharing!!

At 1:39 PM, Blogger Diane J. said...

I've used potato water for yeast rolls and bread and my Mama always reserved the potato water to add back to her mashed potatoes, so I've always done the same thing. I've also used the potato water in soups and stews, among other things.

Good post, Lucy. :-)



At 1:45 PM, Blogger Oh great One said...

Never thought of some of those. I do leave it in for my potato soup though.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Lucy ~ Do you mean that this potato juice water makes a good drain cleaner TOO? ~ jb///

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

Potato water? Weird. I've just poured it down the drain. Didn't know there were other uses for it.

I once made a potato soup but lost the recipe. My family really liked it. I wish I could find that darn recipe...

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Diane Mandy said...

My dad use to own a restauraunt and used the water for some soups and also gravy. Thanks for dropping by my blog!

At 5:56 PM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

Saving potato water? Who would have thunk it? Yep, I'll be looking for those ideas. After all, it was good enough for Beatrix Potter it's good enough for me!

Lucy, you comment put me at ease about my chicks. I'll be making a full report tomorrow.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

I use some of it for potato soup. Sometimes I let it cool and use it (after straining) to water my plants with. They love it, plus you can do that with other veggie juices too.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger butterflygirl said...

Hmmm, who would have thought?

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

At 10:44 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

I knew you could use the potato cooking water in soups. I try to cook my potatoes over water rather than in it using one of those metal inserts that are on the market. This way I retain more of the vitamins in the potato. Also, if I have the time to cook them, I do not cut up my potatoes but leave them whole instead. This helps to retain vitamins as well. Keeping the peeling on and cooking them that way is even a better idea.

When I make mashed potatoes, I use milk, but I warm up the milk first in the microwave. Talk about fluffy mashed potatoes. Wow!

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Maybe potato water goes well with carrot cake?

Oh come on, I deserve some credit for trying...

Mr. Microwave

At 10:21 PM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Thanks for sharing all the great tips. Mon always said that we dump more vitamins down the drain that we put in our bellies. She usually saved potato water for her homemade bread. Mom's bread was out of this world.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that is a lot of ideas, but I bet I wont even remember one when I boil potaotes.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Jim, I like baking my potatoes too. Several times I have steamed them and they have a marvelous flavor. I'll check out your recipe. Looks good.

myrna - There really many options for cooking potatoes.

dawn - a little experimenting doesn't hurt.

susie - it fogs my glasses too..lol

diane j. - sounds like you are an "old hand" with potato water.

oh great one - I will have to try it in potato soup also.

lz blogger - not sure about the drain cleaner thing....

leslie - do a search on the Internet for potato soup.

diane mandy - See, he knew what to do with the potato water...

granny annie - good luck with the chicks, I can't imagine more not hatching.

rachel - I bet it would be good for the plants, I'll have to try that one.

butterfly girl - Like I said, you learn something new each day.

suzieq - I wonder what Julia would do with her potato water?

paul - it would probably do great in carrot cake.

mountain mama - I bet her homemade bread was awesome.....I love homemade bread.

daybyday - I bet you will remember at least one....

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Merle said...

Hi Lucy ~~ I found this very interesting and will save some water
from the potatoes for gravies, soup etc. Another way to save water.
Thanks for your comments - I am short
and Marcus is tall; his wife is not much taller than me. I used to be 5'1 or 5'2" - not sure nowadays Do hope you are feeling better. Take care,
Love, Merle.

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At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol I just wanted a cup of instant coffee while I was getting supper ready, had all my burners full and decided why use another pan when I had good water already boiled so when my potatoes were cooked I used the water to make coffee tasted all right to me. also if you use stovetop stuffing that uses boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes why not use your potato water its all ready and the stuffing will be ready by the time your ready to serve it

At 11:18 AM, Blogger paizley said...

As for saving potato water in the fridge in a jar, I always add more salt to the liquid and cook it down. When ready to use, dilute with water or milk. The salt helps preserve the liquid. Also helps to store it in the coldest part of the fridge. This is good to drink hot with some mild seasoning if someone in the family is having "tummy troubles!"

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Deborah Caneup said...

You can also freeze the potato water for later use in recipes. If I'm in a hurry I will use instant potatoes but use the potato water from the freezer. Instead of the water put the frozen potato water in the pan on medium stirring it until it melts then continue with the instructions for the instant mashed potatoes. Also good in breads or any other recipe. The freezing keeps it longer.

At 6:38 AM, Blogger Эль Бук said...

Select a good boiling potato. While it is possible to boil any potato you happen to have, some potatoes are better boiled than others.


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