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For people cooking now and then it is common knowledge that you have to add an extra of salt if you're including potatoes in your meal.

But what is the (biological? chemical?) reason that potatoes - at least for our taste buds - cushion salty tastes?

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    common knowledge that you have to add an extra of salt if you're including potatoes ? Not to me, sorry. – Jan Doggen Mar 17 '18 at 20:00
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    I’ve never heard this before. Perhaps you could let us know in what country or region this is a common thing. I do like my potatoes salted, but right now I’m cooking rösti, which is nothing but potato and my directions don’t include salt in the cooking. – Spagirl Mar 17 '18 at 20:20
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    Ive never heard to add extra salt to dishes containing potatoes, but I have heard to add potatoes to an over-salted dish. The reason for this is that potatoes are very bland, and therefore require a lot of salt to taste "potato-y." This makes them very hard to over-salt, so they become an ideal ingredient to add to over-salted foods to dilute the salt. – senschen Mar 19 '18 at 11:21
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I see two possible reasons for such a statement. First, it could be that traditional home cooks are accustomed to salt vegetables on a very rough basis, using some homemade rule like "a teaspoon for one pot of soup", and potatoes being blander (less sour, less aroma) than many other vegetables, they prefer to add more salt to potato-heavy meals to achieve a similar level of seasoning-ness.

The second could be a logical derivative of the idea that adding potatoes fixes oversalted soups. If they are an antidote for salt, they need more of it to reach normal saltiness when added deliberately, right? Only the problem here is that they are not a magical anti-salt thing at all. They don't really "fix" the soup, they are just a convenient way (cheap, bulky) to provide dilution in the salty soup, reducing the average saltiness of the chewed potato-stock mixture in the mouth.

Both are not really good reasons to stick to the rule. The second one is plain wrong, and the first is overly simplistic. The better way is to adjust your seasoning based on all factors of the recipe, not just the presence of potatoes. And always taste test when adding seasonings.

So, to sum it up, there is no such reason at all. Your assumption is based on misunderstandings and kitchen myths.

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When you cook potatoes in water, about 70% of potassium and 55% of sodium can be lost in the cooking water (NutritionData). Potassium has a similar effect on taste as sodium, and with so much potassium and sodium lost, potatoes will have bland taste.

Potatoes cooked in vapour (steaming) will keep most of the potassium, so you might have no desire to salt them at all.

  • Doesn't explain why potatoes are, over and over, recommended as a remedy when your cooking water is oversalted :) – rackandboneman Mar 24 '18 at 21:46
  • This was not a question, but when you put potatoes into salty cooking water, they will take up some salt from it. At the same time, some potassium will leak from the potatoes into the cooking water and add to salty taste. So, I don't know what the end result will actually be. – Jan Mar 26 '18 at 7:00

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