What is Potato Water For?

by Merissa on January 14, 2012

in Homestead Hints, Simple Living

Potato Water For

What is Potato Water For?

Potato Water.

Sounds kind of yucky almost.

You wouldn't think of it but it's actually a pretty awesome thing.

So why on earth would you save potato water for? I mean you cooked the potatoes and that's what you used the water for. Don't you just drain it like pasta? Well you could, but you'd be missing out.  Turns out there are many things you can use potato water for.

Turns out even Ma Ingalls knew about this little kitchen secret:

"While Ma made the gravy Laura mashed the potatoes. There was no milk but Ma said, "Leave a very little of the boiling water in, and after you mash them beat them extra hard with a big spoon."  The potatoes turned out white a fluffy...."

Potato starch is very similar to milk or water mixed with flour. It acts as a thickening agent. You can even buy dried potato starch to have on hand if you don't regularly make it. For those allergic to corn or wheat, or for anyone who is following a gluten-free lifestyle, it provides a suitable substitute for a flour or cornstarch thickener.

You can also use it to add to breads or soups in place of regular water. In the case of soups it will thicken the broth and it also adds in vitamins that were in the potatoes when boiled. It's kind of like getting a freebie vegetable supplement in with whatever you are making!

If you don't plan on using it right away you can always freeze it for later use.

Looking for more information on saving money?

What dishes would you save potato water for? What do you use it in?

Have a kitchen question you want answered? Contact us here!

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carla Wallace Green January 14, 2012 at 9:27 am

Rice water with a little sugar will help a sick child not become dehydrated.

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2 Little House on the Prairie Living January 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

I didn’t know that Carla, very interesting!

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3 marci357 January 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

The next pot of soup, if I plan on making some within a few days.

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4 Jane Faulkner January 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

What a great idea! I already knew that it was good to save green vegetable water to water plants, but never considered potato water.

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5 Alice Lyons November 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

After I’ve cooked a pot of greens I taste the cooking water and make the adjustments to it to make bean soup. Dried beans, celery, carrots, onions, a bay leaf, some garlic, a good squirt of catsup and let it cook. It’s always wonderful. I make a pan of cornbread to go with it. Enjoy!

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6 tamela November 12, 2013 at 6:03 am

green vegetable water is good for you too not just the plants.

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7 Michelle Keene Vance January 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

I just (not 10 minutes ago) cooked 5 pounds of potatoes and dumped all the water down the drain. I had no idea that it could be useful!

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8 Beth Kruse January 14, 2012 at 10:19 am

I use the potato water in the gravy that I make to serve on the mashed potatoes.

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9 Pattic December 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I also put some of the potato water in the gravy. It adds to the flavor of the gravy. My mom always said
“don’t throw the ‘tator water out”. :-)

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10 Elyse January 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

My mom has used the potato water to make gravy or sauces. I’ve used it to thicken soups. We let the water cool a bit, put it into canning jars and refrigerate it.

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11 Jen December 15, 2012 at 8:04 pm

How long can you refrigerate it for? Do you know?

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12 Merissa December 16, 2012 at 10:26 am

It stays good in the fridge for about a week, if you want to store any longer than that I would store it in the freezer.

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13 tamela November 12, 2013 at 6:05 am

in ice cube trays is a good way to freeze it too.

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14 Karen Dugas Wiget January 14, 2012 at 11:14 am

I was told that during the depression they would drink potato water for the vitamins it had in it (b/c they surely couldn’t afford to buy vitamins) this family was very poor & survived the depression this way. A potato has all the vitamins & nutrients you need.

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15 Linda James November 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

We all need to take lessons from those who did go thru the depression. They wasted NOTHING! I know of a lady who had a mason jar in the fridge, from Monday thru Thursay each week she’d dump the remaining vegetables from each meal..no matter how little was left…into this jar. Friday was Vegetable Soup day. She made her broth/stock and added all the veggies leftover from Mon-Thurs. Waste Not…Want Not. The potato broth would be great to add to that soup for sure.

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16 Jen Healthy Life Deals January 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

AWESOME tidbit!! Had NO clue potato water was so useful! LOVE it! Thanks for sharing

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17 Brenda January 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Potato water is also great in homemade bread. Great flavor and more moist bread.

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18 Lisa January 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Thanks so much for sharing what a great idea.

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19 Heidi @ CrockPotLadies.com January 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

Huh, the only thing I have ever done with it is let it cool and water some outdoor plants with it.

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20 Kathleen October 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

I have some plants and was wondering if I could use the potato water to water them. Thanks for the tip! The plants will get water and some nutrients- killing two birds with one stone.

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21 Ginelle Showalter November 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Kerrylynn, I use any water I would dump out to water plants. Mostly left over cold tea or humidifier water. I think if it isn’t too salty (like from canned good) or too much sugar (like left over juice) you could use it to water plants.

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22 Kristine January 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I use it for the water in whole wheat bread recipes or for water used to make soup. The yeast feeds off the sugars from the potatoes and you will have a lighter, tender bread :)

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23 wendyb964 January 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Another great use is to freeze it in 0.5-1c portions and use in bread-making. My go-to site for info, recipes,and ingredients is King Arthur Flour. The additional of instant potato flakes makes the finished product (rolls or bread) far more tender. They suggested using potato water if one doesn’t have instant potato flakes or their own product. I tried it last week, thawing and using the equivalent volume as the water required and omitting the instant potatoes. Worked great, and less water/waste products in the environment.

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24 Kevin Williams January 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’ll add myself to the list of people who didn’t know potato water had uses, interesting!

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25 karla giakoumis January 17, 2012 at 7:57 am

Rice water helps a child with diarrea . Cook plain rice add a little salt or flavor , drai the water let cool gie to ouur child . Usualy a save the rice to make a chicken soup .

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26 Erin D. July 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This makes sense because I use the BRAT diet for my kids when they have diarrhea = Bananas, Rice, Apples & Toast. These foods help the digestive track recover, so the Rice water would do the same. Good tip!

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27 julia March 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

B.R.A.T.T … bananas, rice, applesauce, tea (without sugar, honey, any type of sweetner) & toast .. is what my pediatrician told me years ago. He was an extremely intelligent kindly gentleman who also happened to be my Dr as a child. It’s one of the best methods for diarrhea for young and old.

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28 Tina November 12, 2013 at 6:15 am

To the comment about giving rice water to your children, there are traces of arsenic in rice. Please read up on it. Not trying to criticize. Just wanted to be helpful.

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29 Julie January 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I usuallly drain most, but leave some to use as the liquid(usually people use milk) for mashed potatoes. We are dairy free and gluten free, so instead of using rice milk, I just leave some of the water that I cooked them in and mash. Saves on using rice milk and I like the taste better.

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30 CVhrista November 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I am a vegan and don’t use any dairy products. So I always have used the potato water for mashed potatoes. I also use it for soups.

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31 Donna Lu Smith January 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

When I peel potatoes, I drop the peelings into water, that I later drain and use to water my house plants. It makes them very beautiful. I have not tried it with cooked potato water.

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32 Erin D. July 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Thanks! I’m going to use this tip!!!! My Mom was a real estate agent and always fed her plants her left over coffee as she was rushing out the door and the plants thrived better than all the rest.

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33 Kathy Burr January 25, 2012 at 9:50 am

I use my potato water, but for something else… We rescued an Olde/English Bulldog 2 1/2 years ago. She hardly had any hair, staph infection, plus she is deaf. :( We have come to learn thru much trial, error & vet visits… she is allergic to processed dog food. Corn, wheat and so on. We make her food now. Salmon or Mackerel, Potatoes and now green beans. I pressure cook 5lbs of potatoes with the skin, save 1/2 for later. In blender I add 1 can of Salmon or Mackerel, 1 can of no salt green beans drained, potatoes & potato water to thinned consistency. 2 cups am 2 cups pm. From all the constant steroids prior. She had packed the lbs on. 93.5!!! 6 months later, 58 lbs. Everyone thinks she’s a different dog.

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34 Merissa January 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Wow, that’s great!

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35 Wanda February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Awesome! How blessed your (furry) baby is to have you for parents!

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36 Robin Ellison February 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Someone said you can freeze the potato water.Could you also can it? Just wondering. Thank you!

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37 Merissa February 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Yes, you can freeze it. I’m guessing you could can it too but you’d need to pressure can it but I’m not sure if that would destroy the nutrients or not.

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38 Julie July 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm

My husband’s Ukrainian grandmother taught me to save potato water to use in making pyrohy (pierogies) dough. It makes the dough nice and tender, never rubbery like it used to turn out before I learned that tip!

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39 Jeanna McBride September 9, 2012 at 1:44 am

Awesome idea, i never relized it but, i want waste it anymore. Thanks so much.

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40 nooly September 11, 2012 at 3:07 am

i save potato water to drink, to get the most out of the vitamins/minerals but also because i like the taste

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41 Peg J January 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm

My father use to give us a glass of potato water with salt and pepper before he mashed the potatoes. I enjoy it! It has all the vitamins that would normally be thrown down the drain.

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42 Sharon Hernandez February 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm

My hair has become very thin in the last five or 6 years (getting old sucks) and
my hair falls out a lot. I was told to use the potatoe water on my hair as it stops your hair from falling out and helps it become thicker. You pour it on your hair and then rub it into your scalp leave it on for several hours or over night then wash your hair as usual. I have done it twice now and will continue to use it often, which means I will be eating a lot more potatoes.

I will let you know how it works for me.

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43 Merissa February 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Sounds really interesting! Yes, let us know how it works out!

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44 Laurie March 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm

my grandmother taught me to make gravy with potato water instead of using milk- it makes the best gravy!!

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45 julia March 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

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.

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46 Elizabeth January 16, 2014 at 6:27 am

This technic is used when making German potatoe dumplings the recipe uses half cooked potatoes and half raw potatoes. The raw potatoes you put in a cheese cloth and press any fluid out through the cloth into a bowl let it sit for a while. Gently dump the water out, at the bottom you are left with a white paste when you mix the cooked and pressed raw potatoes they turn a little grey due to the air exposure. Add the white paste back in to the mixture and the are white again. No grey potatoe dumplings.

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47 Kerrylynn September 30, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I have always just tossed the water down the drain. However, after reading all the wonderful ideas and advice, I most definitely will be putting my potato water to better use. Thank you everyone.

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48 Michaelann Dahlman November 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I dated a vegetarian for over 3 years, & I always saved the potato water & the liquid from my canned French green beans, for his vegetarian stew.

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49 Margaret November 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I had some potato water today. I thought I should freeze this. It must be good for something. Thank you for the post.

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50 Izzy B November 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm

I boil the potatoes with fresh garlic and use the water as stand alone broth (with a little celtic salt, parsley and cilantro or use as a thickener for soups and bean dishes. Another great thickener is kobucha or blue hubbard squash. Also, rice water with pineapple in the blender makes an outstanding drink.

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51 Sc B. McKinney November 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I save all vegetable water and pour into ice cube trays and once frozen I label and put in a glad bag to use for soups.

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52 Janis November 12, 2013 at 4:08 am

My mother often used potato water to make gravy. I have used it on occasion in my gravy, also, now wondering if adding it to bean soup would thicken it some. Sure going to give it a try.

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53 Lois November 12, 2013 at 4:18 am

I always used it when making gravy for a pot roast dinner. I would use some of the drippings from the roast and all of the potato water (depending on the amount of gravy I was needing) added a thicker then a little of the Bouquet to help color the gravy brown. My granddaughter commented one time to me that I never throw anything away -

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54 Linda Corbus November 12, 2013 at 6:49 am

When I was growing up I remember my mother always saved potato water to make potato bread ..

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55 Johannah November 12, 2013 at 8:02 am

Not surprisingly …. I just used the potato water in addition to the turkey dripping to make gravy! I also use them to thicken soup. I cook the potatoes with the soup, and often times “mash” or “blend them” near the end of the cooking cycle and then return them to the soup. No one is the wiser about potatoes being included — and since I am actually allergic to corn – it’s really, truly a great substitution.

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56 Joy Marks November 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

I don’t understand – wouldn’t the heat from boiling the potatoes ruin any vitamins, etc that are in the water ??

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57 Violet Sunderland January 15, 2014 at 10:55 pm

The heat from cooking doesn’t destroy all of the nutrient value in the potatoes, and I suspect that the potato juice that seeps into the cooking water takes some from the potatoes and adds it to the water. If cooking heat destroyed nutrients, why would we be cooking instead of eating raw? I’ve read that cooking carrots makes them more nutritious, (maybe more easily digested?) but don’t know if that was fact or opinion. If I was a gambler, I’d bet no one has ever died of malnutrition from eating cooked food. ;^)

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58 Sharon November 12, 2013 at 10:35 am

Loved this post and all the ideas submitted. It brought back memories of my mother using potato water to make gravy. Thank you all.

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59 Chelle November 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

Homesteaders make yeast from scratch with potato water, a little salt and sugar I think that’s all and let it ferments.

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60 Paulina November 12, 2013 at 11:13 am

WOW!!! Never new about it.
Thank you for sharing. :)

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61 Louise November 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

I freeze potato water to use in soup, after I use some of it for mashing, if I’m mashing. I also freeze all peels of veggies and apples, bones and bits of meat left over, stems from drying herbs, and suchlike… in the “broth zippie” in the freezer. When it’s full, it goes in the pot with water (or potato water) and cooks down to broth. Strain out all the solids, freeze or use. I’ve done this for decades, and never buy commercially made broth. Tip: do this the day before trash pickup, so you can send the smelly bits away right off. Not so important in winter, when the garage barrel will be very cold, but useful other times! I wouldn’t leave the solids in the kitchen trash… icky! And I don’t put meat items on my compost, because Pepe Le Pew (the skunk) likes them too much.

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62 anita November 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I use it hot to kill weeds on my walk way

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63 Laurie McCall November 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm

When I was growing up we always saved the potato water to make Blinna (or Balina) a crepe-like large German sourdough pancake.

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64 Linda Mathews November 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Several people said it makes bread more moist. I also use potatoe water in my sourdough bread. It seems to last longer.

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65 Chandie Bartell November 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Potato starch was also used to stiffen clothing- starch it. Learned that from my farm relatives.

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66 Merissa November 26, 2013 at 6:27 am

Great tip, thanks for sharing!

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67 h2olovngrl November 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

The nutrients leach out into the water when boiling. Meaning whatever vegetable you are cooking in boiling water, like a potato, will be lower in nutrients, but the water will still have most of the added nutrients from the cooked vegetable. Great ideas, too. I can’t believe I never knew to save the potato water.

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68 Dawn Wise January 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I just have to say, your site has quickly become one of my absolute favorites. I have learn so much here. THANK YOU for sharing and encourage and for following your desire to help us all grow and learn!!!!

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69 Frani Pearson Kelly January 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Got this recipe from my former MIL back in the ’60′s….made it many times.
She got it from a book about a Wilderness Wife.
Imitation Maple Syrup
6 medium potatoes, peeled
2 c. water
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
Peel the potatoes & boil uncovered in the 2 cups of water, until 1 cup remains.
Remove potatoes, stir the liquid back to the boiling point.
Slowly add the sugars.
Dissolve thoroughly & then remove pan from heat & allow to cool slowly.
Bottle & let age in a dark cupboard for at least 2 days. It will also thicken.
I usually just use potato water when boiling them for other meals, & then reduce the water & add adjusted amounts of sugars….
This recipe tastes like prime syrup, not the pancake syrup from the grocery stores..

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70 Ash January 16, 2014 at 6:38 am

My grandmother drank potato water to help her severe psoriasis. She also wasted nothing and put all kinds of leftovers in the soup.

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71 Peggy Stenglein January 16, 2014 at 6:54 am

I don’t remember my Mom using it, but my husband’s family always did, and they are no means the cooking from scratch kind of family, but they always used potato water for making gravy on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My hubby has gravy duty now, and we save the potato water, and he makes delicious turkey gravy…really, the best gravy I’ve tasted, and my Mom was a wonderful cook!! It makes delicious gravy!!

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72 tina January 16, 2014 at 7:41 am

When i was a little girl my grandmother taught me to use the water from the potato for gravy. When friends come over i always ask them have you ever had tater water gravy. taste very good also.

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73 Judy January 16, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I save the potato water, add any leftover mashed potatoes (if not too much), whip it good to blend, add chopped onion, boil again to cook the onion, add milk if desired, salt and pepper and any other seasoning – for delicious creamy potato soup.

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74 kim Everhart January 17, 2014 at 7:14 am

Thank you for sharing saving potato water to use as a thickening agent! so very clever!!

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75 Pamela March 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Made a really fantastic recipe for cinnamon buns using potato water in the bread. Yum!

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76 Merissa March 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Yum!

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