Plain cooked potatoes have become one of my favorite go-to foods during the recent months. I just wash them, put them in a pot, cover them with water, put in a bit of salt, cook them until they are completely tender (about an hour for the average-sized ones) and eat them with the peel on, only adding salt and butter.

During eating, which probably takes me 10 minutes, the first potato always tastes much better than the last one. It's hard to describe the difference, but I'd say the first one is mellow, creamy and flowery, while the last one is more chewy, bland and boring.

What kind of effects could cause this (in my opinion, pretty significant) taste difference? And could something be done to lessen or avoid it? I suspect the 10 minute cooling time on the plate has something to do with it, although reheating an already-cooled potato doesn't seem to improve it at all. Any ideas?

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    I don't know what's causing your problem. I always chunk up potatoes before boiling them 20 minutes. Your hour long boil might be overkill for some flavor component. Most times with whole tates, I'll stab them repeatedly with a fork, put in a covered bowl and nuke for 6-8 minutes. They taste good. Microwaving one are time might solve your going blandish the next day problem. There IS no next day with this cooking method. Sep 28, 2020 at 0:09
  • @WayfaringStranger Unclear wording on my side, sorry. I'm not saving some for next day, I'm eating all of them immediately, so they just cool down a bit on the plate, that's all. Long cooking time can't be the problem since fresh out of the pot they taste just as I want them to.
    – MaxD
    Sep 28, 2020 at 0:16
  • Maybe your salt is diffusing into your potato in a short time frame, decreasing a flavor gradient you find tasty? Seems plausible, but I doubt there's experimental evidence in the "Journal of Food Science" to back that up. -It's a guess. Sep 28, 2020 at 0:32
  • @WayfaringStranger If you mean the salt I put on before eating (and not the one in the cooking water), that can't be the reason either since I cut the potatoes in half one at a time. When cooking is finished I put them all on a plate, then I cut the first one in half, salt it and eat it before going to the second one (to keep them as warm as possible).
    – MaxD
    Sep 28, 2020 at 0:53
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    the potatos continue to cook after you take them out of the pot ... maybe they are simply overcooked ... next time put a couple of them into cold water to stop the cooking process ... after you finish your meal, warm up the cold potatos in a microwave oven and taste them
    – jsotola
    Sep 30, 2020 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


I see multiple possible reasons for this. Here are some tests you can run. Be sure to run each test on a separate day, so you have a normal appetite for every test.

The first two tests are to determine if the change of temperature is actually the cause of the loss of flavor. The last two tests are to examine some other possible causes.

Test number one

Cook a potato as normal, put it on your plate and let it sit for 10 minutes, as though this is your second potato. Eat the cooled potato, and compare to how you remember your usual second potato tasting.

  • If the cooled potato seems just as bland/boring as the second potato normally is, you now know that temperature is a significant factor.
  • If you enjoy the cooled potato as much as you normally enjoy your first potato, you now know that the temperature is not what makes the difference.

Test number two

In this test, you eat two potatoes. The first potato is cool, and the second potato is hot. Start cooking a potato. After 20 minutes, start cooking another potato of the same size. When the first potato is cooked, take it out of the pot, put it on your plate, and let it cool for 10 minutes (just like in the first test). Eat the cooled potato. When you're done eating the cooled potato, the second potato should be finished cooking. Eat the second potato.

  • If you enjoy the second, hot potato more than you enjoy the first potato, you now know that temperature was the main issue.

    The solution is to cook your two potatoes sequentially. Start cooking the second potato ten minutes after you start the first one. Eat each potato as soon as it's ready. That way you can eat both potatoes hot.

    Or, use an insulating wrapper to keep the second potato warm while you eat the first potato. An oven mitt would probably work well for this purpose. However, as Kat suggested in the comments, it's possible that the second potato is actually getting over-cooked while it sits. If that's the problem, insulating the potato to keep it warm would make the problem worse. So you could do another test comparing the two methods (staggered cooking times vs same cooking time + insulating the second potato).

  • If you don't enjoy the second, hot potato as much as you enjoy the first, cold potato, you know that temperature is not the main issue. Proceed to the next few tests.

Test number three

I always find my mouth feels quite dry after eating a potato. Perhaps you're not drinking enough water with your meal. After finishing your first potato, get a full glass of water. Drink the entire glass (at a reasonable speed, not gulping it). Let it settle. Then eat the second potato.

Test number four

Sometimes the tastebuds get tired of eating a single thing. One solution is to introduce a small amount of a strongly contrasting flavor. So, try eating a palate cleanser between the two potatoes. Since potato is a very mild taste, you will probably want a sharp flavor, either spicy, sour or bitter. Some options include: pickles, pickled ginger, a slice of apple, bitter herbs, a dab of horseradish sauce, sauerkraut, chutney, kimchi, a slice of lemon or lime (eat the fruit and the rind for a combination of sour and bitter).

The palate cleanser doesn't need to be major component of the meal, but rather a garnish of something that will startle, surprise or shock your tastebuds. After a bit of this surprising flavor, returning to the potato should seem safe and comforting. Like how a chilly breeze makes you enjoy snuggling into a warm sweater.

Potatoes are actually known to have a high satiety index compared to nutritionally similar foods like pasta and rice. That means they give you the "physiological and psychological experience of fullness." Because of this, some people actually recommend potatoes as a food to help you eat less.

If none of the above tests helps you find a solution, it might be that your body is telling you not to eat the second potato. Perhaps it's telling you you've already had enough calories. Or, maybe you still need more calories, but your body wants them in a different form (such as green vegetables, protein and/or fat). It might be worth comparing your usual daily food intake to a recommended balanced diet, just to make sure you're actually getting the nutrition you need.

  • Another possibility: maybe it's not the temp, but as it sits, it continues cooking? So once you get to the second potato it's overcooked. Maybe you could test this by letting the potato sit in something that would keep it warm for ten minutes? That'd differentiate between cooling and extra cooking.
    – Kat
    Sep 28, 2020 at 3:39
  • @Kat That's a reasonable possibility. I added a note to my "test number two" about it.
    – csk
    Sep 29, 2020 at 2:09

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