As a kid, salt potatoes were just part of the menu during the summer around here. I didn't think much of it.
For a very brief history lesson, Syracuse, New York (my hometown) used to be known (and still is, in many circles) as the Salt City. Through much of the 19th century, Syracuse was the top location in the country for salt production. Before refrigeration, salt was an essential food preservative.
One of two methods used in this area to produce salt commercially, involved boiling the natural salt spring water, leaving the salt once all the water boiled off. Somebody had the brilliant idea to drop a couple potatoes in the boiling salt brine, and the uniquely-Syracuse Salt Potato was born!
Small, new potatoes, cooked to sweet, soft perfection on the inside, with a gently snappy, leathery, salty skin on the outside. They were always side by side with the main course at the clam bakes and summer barbecues when I was a kid.
Then I moved to another part of the country. The first time I went to a picnic and there were no salt potatoes, I knew something was up!
Fast forward to last week! Dave and I attended an event at a local micro brewery hosted by the Pomeroy Foundation and the Onondaga Historical Association to commemorate the first Hungry For History marker to be placed in front of the popular Salt Museum here in Syracuse, near to the location where the 19th century salt production facilities stood.
Perhaps you recognize the shape and characteristics of the marker? The Pomeroy Foundation, a Syracuse-area foundation, places historical markers at locations across the US, listed on the National Register of Historical Places to mark the spot and the history at that site. They have recently added marker categories for Lores and Legends (cue Sleepy Hollow-type stories tied to a certain location). And now, the Hungry For History markers recognize foods that are connected by history to a location - like Salt Potatoes and Syracuse!
Do you have a local culinary delight that deserves its own marker? The Pomeroy Foundation would love to hear from you! CLICK HERE to learn how to put your favorite historical food on the map!
More and more, folks around the country are catching on to this central New York spud-treat. But it was quite a rude awakening for me to discover some 30 years ago, that cuisine in other parts of the country were seriously lacking in their summer menu fare!
Making salt potatoes is easy!
Grab some new potatoes. I've used white or red - the traditional version is white. The smaller the potatoes, the better! About 5 pounds, more or less. Leave the peels on.
Fill a large pot with about 6 cups of water - not too much, the water should just cover the potatoes.
Add at least one cup (yep!) of salt.
Add the potatoes. Bring the pot to a boil, then boil for 20 minutes, or until the taters are fork-tender. Pour the potatoes into a colander, but DON'T RINSE! As the potatoes cool, they'll develop a salty-semi-crunch texture on the skin and creamy yummy-ness on the inside. Serve with melted butter.
Bonus Tip: If you don't dribble melted butter on your chin or on the front of your shirt, you're not doin' it right!
Double Bonus Tip: The leftover potatoes make excellent home fries (slice them up and stir-fry in a bit of butter and oil) or potato salad!
Don't want to shop? Get a kit, then just add water. They are SO good!
I'm back in wait-mode. I decided to add magnetic closures encased in fabric tabs. I ordered the magnets online, so now, I wait for Larry the Mail Guy to deliver the goods. Meanwhile, all the parts are ready for the magnets.
The fabric I ordered for the hummingbird stitchery hasn't arrived either.
Fortunately, I have plenty to keep me busy.