I can never get potatoes boiled just right, they're either over or undercooked. When I think they could be about done, I poke one or two with a knife but then that one splits and cooks faster than others. It also spills the potato juices in the water and I don't like to do that, which is why I boil whole potatoes and not sliced.

Is there a way to know potatoes have attained just the right level of boiling without poking them with a knife or fork?

  • It sounds more like you're testing it wrong. Grab a potato with a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs. Take a thin, sharp knife, and stab it about 3/4 of the way through, aligned with the longest axis of the potato. Lift the knife and shake gently. If the potato falls off from its own weight, it's done. If you have to use the spoon or tongs to force the potato off the knife, it needs to cook longer. – Joe Dec 22 '14 at 18:54
  • how is that different than what i described how i was doing it? – amphibient Dec 22 '14 at 18:55
  • @amphibent : I didn't know what you qualified as 'poking' (some people slice almost all the way through the potato). Or what size knife you were using. (a heavy chef knife will do much more damage than a paring or boning knife). As I don't have the same issues that you're having, there's either a difference in our testing, or our cooking process. – Joe Dec 22 '14 at 19:00
  • @amphibient, boiling whole potatoes might be your problem. If the potato splits after you poke it, it is done or you've sliced it and not poked it. If all of your potatoes aren't getting done at the same time it's due to lack of uniformity of the sizes. – Mr. Mascaro Dec 22 '14 at 22:18
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    What's wrong with poking? It does not effect the cooking process, or the majority of the potato in any way – TFD Dec 23 '14 at 5:06

One other thing to consider is that potatoes continue to cook after you take them out of the water. So straining them just before they are done completely is okay, if they are cooked through when you strain them then you will want to run them under cold water for a second to shock them out of the continued cooking process.

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Two hints:

  • The color of the potato peel slightly lightens sometimes even getting transparent if it is a thin one.

  • The skin starts peeling a little from somewhere since the heat tries to escape out of it!!

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    This is an unreliable test. If you started in hot water and have large potatoes, the outside will be cooked way before the middle of the potato is done. – Joe Dec 22 '14 at 18:55
  • Thats why I said hints! I guess just by looking at it even pros will not be able to give a reliable answer! – Neels Dec 23 '14 at 7:25

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