As you begin to bake different types of breads, you will come across some older bread recipes that call for potato water. Potato water is the water that potatoes have been boiled in. The potatoes release their starchy goodness into the water as they are cooked. The potato water can then be used as a substitute for milk and it makes your bread deliciously moist. As well, it can be used as a thickener that is naturally gluten-free.
How to Make Potato Water
To make potato water, wash and peel two to three potatoes. It is important to either peel the potatoes or scrub them very well or your potato water will have an earthy taste.
Cube the potatoes and add them to a large pot. Cover the potato cubes with cold water and bring them to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove the pot from the heat and drain potato water into a liquid measuring cup. Let the potato water cool to warm before using it in your recipe. Potato water can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. After this time, the potato water sweetens and can spoil the taste of your bread. You can keep it longer by freezing it.
There is no need to waste the cooked potatoes. The potatoes can be mashed with a fork and added to potato bread recipes. Or, you can enjoy the potatoes in any other dish. Set them aside in the refrigerator if you are in the midst of the baking process and can't quite decide what to do with these leftovers.
Uses for Potato Water
The most common place you will see potato water on an ingredient list is in recipes for potato bread. It adds to the texture, keeps the moisture in the bread, and provides some flavor as opposed to just using plain water.
For whipped potatoes, add some of the potato water when you are whipping them and they will be fluffier. That tip is even passed down in the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For settlers who couldn't run to the store for milk, it made a good substitute.
Potato water is making a comeback for several purposes for people who are eating dairy-free or gluten-free. You can use it to make gravy without adding any other thickeners, such as flour (which contains gluten). Add the hot potato water to the pan with the meat drippings, heat it and season it. While you could buy potato starch for this purpose, why not use what you just made for free? If you find that your sauce needs more thickening, you can add more potato starch or cornstarch.
You can thicken a broth, soup, or stew by using potato water rather than plain water, again avoiding using flour if you are eliminating gluten. Some people even like to turn potato water into a broth by adding celery salt, black pepper, and a little bouillon.
Don't toss the potato water, look for ways to put it to use. Many people report using it to water their plants or moisten dry pet food as well.