Syracuse Salt Potatoes

I love learning about regional culinary dishes that I have never heard of. I live in Canada and am continually amazed at the many different food traditions from various regions of the United States.

Here are just a few:

  • Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches
  • Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
  • New Orleans Cajun cuisine
  • Memphis BBQ
  • Tex Mex

This just barely scratches the surface. This past week I learned of a new regional food that is still American but close to where I live. This dish, or should I say cooking technique, is called Syracuse Salt Potatoes. Have you ever heard of these? Well, let me give you a bit of a lesson on them.

Salt springs are found around the city of Syracuse and have been used to produce consumable salt that was distributed for decades from the 1800s until around 1920. In the 1800’s, Irish salt miners would come to the springs and bring a bag of potatoes. At lunch time they would boil the potatoes in the brine from the salt springs. This became a popular way to eat potatoes and, to this day, in Central New York state, people still love to eat salt potatoes.

Some restaurants in the area serve salt potatoes. Also, in grocery stores, you can buy salt potato kits. The potatoes need to be kept whole, so smaller new potatoes are the typical kind prepared with this technique. If the potatoes are cut, too much salt will be absorbed in the potato and it will be virtually inedible. Once the potatoes come out of the salt brine, they form a dry salty crust on the skin. The salt also raises the boiling point of water which helps to create an extra creamy potato. It is also popular to serve the potatoes with melted butter and chopped herbs, such as chives. Much of this info comes from Wikipedia.

Syracuse Salt Potatoes 4

Syracuse Salt Potatoes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 
Servings: 4 -6
Author: Steve Cylka
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs new whole potatoes (small ones)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups table salt
  • melted butter (optional)
  • chopped chives (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add water to a large pot and stir in the salt until it dissolves.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add the potatoes. Leave the potatoes whole. If the potatoes are cut into halves or quarters they will absorb too much salt and be far too salty.
  3. After about 20-30 minutes the potatoes will be cooked through. Stick a toothpick in to ensure they are soft enough.
  4. Remove potatoes from the water and place them on a cooling rack. This will allow the potatoes to develop the salt crust on the skin. This should take just a couple minutes.
  5. Serve hot with melted butter, if desired.

syracuse salt potatoes

18 comments

  1. Mmm these always look so good to me! I’m yet to try them because I think I’d eat the whole lb or 3 that I’d make. I have a serious salty pallet & I lovvveee potatoes! Sounds amazing!

  2. I make these all the time! I’m from Massachusetts, but a friend gave me the recipe and I’ve been addicted to them. I was wondering how to put them into a blog post since I had no idea what to make of the cooking method. Thanks for this informative post. Bravo! P.S. Call me ghetto, but I like to eat them with…ranch 🙂

  3. Great memories of my childhood! My grandmother used to bake them into the oven. Excellent taste with homemade butter.
    Thanks for sharing this simple recipe ! Less means more . Always.

  4. Having lived in Syracuse my whole life, I think I can attest to the fact that butter is not optional when it comes to salt potatoes. In fact, it tends to be treated more like the broth for a salt potato soup than a condiment!

    • Ha thanks for the info. I loved it when I made it last night and I cannot believe I have never heard of it till now! So much salt, so much butter, so much goodness!!

  5. Awesome idea! I’m a full salt addict!

  6. Holy cow, this looks so intriguing! I’d love to try these – knowing myself I’ll love them. Thank you for teaching me something entirely new to me today!

  7. I have never heard of these before! They sound delicious! Love learning about new foods from different parts of the world!

  8. This is wicked cool. I have never seen or heard of these. I may have to sneak some on cheat day. Suppose to be watching my salt.

  9. I’ve never heard of these before. I’m for sure going to try this recipe and I know I’ll love them…I love salt. Thank you for sharing this recipe and the background on these potatoes..very interesting.

  10. Interesting post here. I always use coarse salt and butter before I foil a potato for baking. This method sounds like it would be a better way to go. This is a new one to me.
    As far as different cuisine, it seems like I am coming across some new food or food blend every day since I am blogging. There is a vast world of food out there!

  11. Yes!! Thank you for sharing! I grew up in Syracuse and nothing says ‘summer’ like salt potatoes (except, maybe, corn on the cob). Everyone should try these at their next BBQ – they are the perfect side dish – simple, buttery and delicious.

  12. i’ve never heard of syracuse salt potatoes before but they sound absolutely amazing. i think they’d be a great addition to an outdoor cookout – will definitely have to try them now that the weather here is warning up!

  13. I am also from Syracuse and this is a standard stable during the summer grilling season. A plate of ribs with salt potatoes and a cold drink.

  14. I’m from Syracuse and grew up eating these delicious potatoes! They are small, but so delicious with the salt. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  15. My mothers side of the family(German) have resided in central NY for generations and make these at every gathering. I never participated in the cooking, but they were brought out in a pot big enough for a child to fall into. There were probably a hundred small potatoes in there. Another thing I remeber is having butter dripping from mouth to elbow. There must have been two pounds of butter melted in there after the water was drained.

  16. After spending several years in Rochester, NY…we loved salt potatoes……now living in SE Georgia….its never been heard of. My daughter made some last week, and will be thrilled to see this recipe!

  17. Heather from rome

    Your not from cny if you have never heard or havent had salt potatoes!

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