how do you avoid potato cardboard?

I recently made what I thought was a delicious potato salad in advance of my friend's visit. I boiled some potatoes and mixed them while they were still hot with lemon juice and parsley-basil pesto. I refrigerated them for a few days and then the day of, I tossed the potatoes with some blanched green beans, broccoli and more pesto, lemon and olive oil. Unfortunately the texture of the potatoes ended up getting pretty nasty and cardboard-y and somewhat ruined what was otherwise a delicious lunch. Any suggestions about how to avoid this in the future? Is it just better to cook the potatoes the same day you eat them and never refrigerate?

  • Posted by: JORJ
  • September 6, 2012


ChefOno September 7, 2012

Russets, and other so-called starchy potatoes, can make excellent potato salads. I prefer their richer, deeper flavor but they do require a little more care. Cube the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled, your preference) and simmer in salted water until barely tender. Emphasis on "simmer" and "barely" (5 minutes or so). Spread them out on a sheet tray to cool. They'll soften up a bit in the process.

JORJ September 7, 2012
thanks everyone for your responses! I'm pretty sure it was the combo of the wrong kind of potato and too much time in the fridge. I think that I'll just make this day-of in the future and hold out for the waxy potatoes.
RobertaJ September 7, 2012
The acid shouldn't be an issue, I usually put a "sploosh" of vinegar into my potato cooking water to keep them from getting "furry" while boiling, and also to flavor them, and then do the oil/vinegar/herb/seasoning dressing while they're still hot. As others ahve said, I'd look at the type of potatoes (waxy ones are best, think "new" potatoes). Even Yukon Golds are too starchy. But I really think the true culprit was the length of storage.
Maedl September 7, 2012
Did you use the right type of potato? Potatoes can be either waxy or starchy. Starchy potatoes are fine for mashed potatoes because they fall apart easily, but for salads you want a waxy potato that will hold its shape. They need to be cooked until a knife will insert and pull out easily. I always dress my potatoes when they are hot and the salad is fine the next day, although I don't like it straight from the refrigerator.
ATL September 6, 2012
I always add both acid and oil to warm potatoes before refrigerating, as ChefOno suggests, and that works fine. If I want to add a classic mayo dressing, I do it after the potatoes are well-chilled. If I were using pesto, I'd add it at this point to keep the potato salad bright in flavor and let the oil and acid (I prefer red wine vinegar) provide the base notes.
Cannizzo September 6, 2012
I think the acid from the lemon did it next time try adding just the olive oil to them while they are hot and your other spices then add the lemon later

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ChefOno September 6, 2012

I can only take a guess because I've never experienced the problem I think you are describing. First off, adding the acid to the potatoes while they are still warm is a good technique as they're very receptive to absorbing liquid at that point in the process. The issue is not from refrigeration per se, or from being a few days old because we've all eaten potato salads that way. Refrigeration is a very important step if you're not going to consume potatoes right away. So I'm wondering if the potatoes dried out before you added enough oil to protect them. Next time I'd complete dressing the salad after the potatoes first cool down and see how that goes.

pierino September 6, 2012
The "few days" part is the problem. Cooked potatoes don't hold well. Period. Yes, set your alarm, get up early and do it all the same day.
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