Sounds kind of yucky almost. But potato water is actually pretty awesome! You might be surprised to learn that potato water is incredibly useful and versatile. You can use potato water as a substitute thickener, add it to all sorts of dishes for extra flavor and even use it in the garden to add nutrients to your soil. Read on to learn about all the ways you can use potato water, and how to make it in the first place!
What is Potato Water?
Potato water is quite simply the water that’s leftover in the pot after you boil potatoes. It’s starchy and thicker than plain water and has little bits of potato floating around in it.
So why on earth would you save potato water? Why not just strain the potatoes and dump the water down the drain like you would with pasta? Well, because then you’d be missing out!
Potato starch mixed with water has a similar consistency to milk or water mixed with flour. It acts as a thickening agent, adds nutrients to other dishes and improves the taste and texture of bread and doughs. You can even buy dried potato starch to have on hand if you don’t regularly boil potatoes.
There are many things you can use potato water for, so next time think twice before pouring it down the drain!
Even Ma Ingalls knew about this little kitchen secret and used her potato water to make her home-cooked food extra delicious!
“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 and fluffy….”
– The Long Winter
How to use Potato Water
Potato water is quite versatile and can be used for many different things. Here are a few that come to mind:
- For those allergic to corn or wheat, or for anyone following a gluten-free lifestyle, potato water provides a suitable substitute for a flour or cornstarch thickener. We use it quite often in our All Purpose Gluten Free Flour since it’s fairly inexpensive.
- 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 from the potatoes. It’s kind of like getting a freebie vegetable supplement in with whatever you are making!
- You can add potato water to breads to give them a nice texture and some added flavor (versus just adding plain water).
- You can also use potato water to make a basic gravy without having to add any thickeners. Just pour the hot potato water into another saucepan, add some drippings or broth from whatever meat you’re cooking, sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper and heat on the stove until thickened. You can always add a little more dried potato starch or cornstarch if you want it even thicker.
- Use potato water as a frugal, simple fertilizer for your plants. If I don’t plan on using it in a recipe I will usually let it cool down and pour it out on my garden plants. (Do not add potato water that you have salted to plants though!)
- You can also give potato water to your animals. Add it to your chicken scrap pail, pig slop pail, or even pour it over your dog or cat’s food to give it some extra nutrients.
How to save and store Potato Water
Making and saving potato water is pretty easy. Just save the water that you strain out from your pot of boiled potatoes! But when if you don’t plan on using it right away, you’ll need to know how to store it.
One option is to freeze it for later use. It will last quite a long time in the freezer with no problem.
If you only want to store it for the short term, however, you can keep it in a glass jar in the fridge until you need it but it will only store for up to a week.
Health benefits of Potato Water
Perhaps the best part is that potato water is packed full of added nutrients extracted from the potatoes themselves! Nutrients like vitamins B and C, potassium and fiber, and phytonutrients like carotenoids and flavonoids which are thought to promote good overall health.
According to this article, potatoes can actually help lower blood pressure, improve brain function and nervous system health, reduce inflammation and aid in digestion, among other things.
Of course, since boiling water doesn’t just cook the potatoes, but actually extracts nutrients from them, the resulting potato water contains all of the nutrients present in regular potatoes so you get all the same health benefits too!
There are so many products we use every day that we tend to just toss out with the compost (or even the garbage!) But more often than not, in my experience, those products can be reused an turned into something new and pretty awesome. If you’re interested in learning more about different ways to reuse everyday kitchen items, check out the following articles:
- Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds
- Banana Peel Fertilizer
- Uses for Banana Peels
- Homemade Pancake Syrup made with Apple Peelings
- Uses for Apple Peels
Do you love money-saving ideas like this one? Then you’ll really love my book Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It’s filled with over 130 DIY recipes and money-saving tips that anyone can use so be sure to check it out!
Have you ever save your potato water before? What do you use it for? Let me know in the comments!