If you are a beginner cook, learning how to boil potatoes is a basic skill you will need. It’s a simple process, and one that you can master quite quickly. We’ll show you how to prepare and cook your potatoes so that you get them perfect every time.
Plain boiled potatoes are not only great as a side dish, they can also be turned into mashed potatoes, potato salads, potato croquettes, gnocchi, pie toppings and so much more.
How To Prepare Potatoes For Boiling
Always wash the potatoes before cooking, it’s just good kitchen hygiene, even if they look clean. You don’t know what the potatoes have been exposed to or how they were stored before you purchased them.
If you have potatoes that are covered in dirt, give them a very good scrub under running water. Use a stiff brush to remove all traces of dirt, especially if you are going to leave the skin on. The last thing you want is mouthfuls of sandy bits when you bite into your cooked potatoes.
It’s also a good idea to wash the potatoes after they have been peeled. A quick rinse will remove some of the starchy juices from the outside of the potatoes that appear after peeling. All you need to do is place the peeled potatoes in a saucepan cover with a little water and drain, then top up with some fresh water ready for boiling.
Potatoes With Skin On Or Off?
You can peel potatoes before or after boiling, it just comes down to personal preference and what you will be making with the potatoes.
For me, I will look at the potato, sometimes the potatoes are very large, or they will be marked with cuts and blemishes, these I will peel and remove the discoloured sections and cut them into smaller pieces if necessary.
Other times the potatoes will be small and look unblemished, these I will usually leave whole and unpeeled.
If I am making mashed potatoes, I will always peel them before boiling. Others will say to boil potatoes before peeling them. I don’t do this because I am usually in a hurry and don’t have time to wait for the potatoes to cool down enough for me handle and remove the skin.
Cooking Whole Or Cut Potatoes
When cooking potatoes choose ones that are roughly the same size. This will ensure even cooking time.
If the potatoes are extremely large or vary in size, cut them into even sized pieces, to ensure even cooking time. You can leave them whole if they are roughly the same size – this is best for small to medium size potatoes.
How To Boil Potatoes
You will need a pot or saucepan that is large enough to hold all the potatoes with some room at the top. Fill the pot with enough cold tap water to cover the tops of the potatoes by about 5cm (2 inches).
Add a teaspoon of salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Place the pot on the stove and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once the water is rapidly boiling, reduce the heat to medium/high and cook uncovered.
Potato Cooking Time
The time required to boil potatoes will vary depending on the size of the potatoes. Small cubed potatoes (for potato salad) will cook much quicker than larger pieces. So, if you are boiling cubed potatoes check them after about 5 minutes, the large size will take between 10 – 25 minutes to cook or longer if the pieces are very large.
How To Know When Potatoes Are Done Boiling
To tell when potatoes are done boiling, poke several potatoes pieces with a fork or skewer, if the fork goes in easily all the way through without any resistance it is done.
Once the potatoes are done cooking, drain and use as required.
Can You Over Boil Potatoes?
Yes! If you over boil potatoes, they will break down and become mushy. Mushy potatoes may not be a problem if you are making mashed potatoes. However, if you are boiling potatoes for a salad, they need to be firm, tender and holding their shape.
To avoid over boiled potatoes, during cooking test with a fork or skewer, if it goes easily into the potato, they are ready. When the potatoes are done boiling, drain well – leaving them in the water will also make them mushy.
Recipes using boiled mashed potatoes.