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6 Mistakes You Must Avoid To Make Delicious Potato Salad

6 Mistakes You Must Avoid To Make Delicious Potato Salad

We’re now knee-deep into summer, which means barbecues, family get-togethers, and picnics galore. What do those three things have in common? Lots and lots of food. And if there’s one dish that’s ubiquitous when it comes to summer eating, it’s the good old potato salad.

Indeed, whether you’re cooking up burgers, frying up hot dogs, or crafting a mouth-watering sandwich, nothing goes better on the side during the sweltering summer months than a cool and crisp potato salad.

There’s only one problem: plenty of people manage to prepare it incorrectly, despite their best intentions. Here, I’ll tell you what some of the most common mistakes are, and how to avoid them.

1. Picking the wrong kinds of potatoes.

There are multiple types of potatoes, and each has unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, some are better for boiling and mashing, while others are meant to be sliced, diced, and fried. For potato salad, your goal should be to find potatoes that aren’t starchy, as those are more prone to breaking up while you’re preparing your dish.

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What to do instead:

Instead of picking a starchy potato (like the Russet Burbank potato), go with ‘waxy’ varieties, like Fingerling or Red Bliss potatoes. These are sturdier and more suited to being tossed around and mixed into a salad.

2. Under-seasoning your potatoes.

Many folks forget to season their pot of water with salt before boiling their potatoes. It’s important that you don’t overlook this step, as seasoning your potatoes after boiling them will prevent them from reaching their true flavor potential.

What to do instead:

Preparing potatoes destined for a potato salad is almost like prepping pasta. All you need to do is put a dash of salt in your pot of water before you put your potatoes in.

3. Overheating your potatoes.

It would be a major mistake to dump your potatoes straight into a pot of boiling salty water, as that would leave them spongy on the outside and hard on the inside.

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What to do instead:

The trick is to start with cold, salty water. Put your potatoes in that, and then slowly bring it all to a boil. This way, your spuds cook evenly, which is exactly what you need for a good potato salad.

4. Cooking your potatoes for too long.

Potatoes used in potato salad tread a fine line- they can’t be crunchy, and they can’t be mushy. They need to be somewhere in the middle. Most people overcook in order to err on the side of caution, which leaves them with potatoes that have nearly the same consistency as mashed potatoes.

What to do instead:

In order to get that chunky and soft texture potato salad is famous for, you’ll want to cook them until they are soft enough to be easily penetrated by a fork. You know you’ve overcooked them if your fork causes the potato to break apart. Reaching this sweet spot usually takes anywhere from 8-12 minutes, so you’ll need to monitor your potatoes closely when they reach that threshold.

5. Cutting your potatoes into vastly different shapes and sizes.

When making potato salad, many people get a bit crazy with their knife and chop their potatoes into uneven cubes of varying sizes. This is a huge mistake, as different sized potato cubes cook at different speeds. If all of your cubes are a different size, then you’ll have a potato salad that’s half overcooked and half undercooked.

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What to do instead:

Take the time to cut your potatoes as uniformly as possible. This will make the cooking process much easier, as you’ll be able to tell if all of the cubes are cooked by testing just one of them.

6. Applying the finishing touches at the wrong time.

And by finishing touches, I’m talking about the salad dressing. A common mistake folks make is applying their mayo-based dressing right after the potatoes are done cooking, which warms the mayo up, causing it to melt and lose its texture.

On the flip side, those who use vinaigrette-based dressings often make the mistake of waiting for the potatoes to cool, which makes it harder for them to absorb the flavor.

What to do instead:

If you are using a standard mayo-based dressing, cool down your spuds for about half an hour first and then toss it into your salad. For those opting for a vinaigrette-based dressing, toss it in while your potatoes are still warm, as this will allow the dressing to marinate more effectively, making your salad tastier as a result!

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Did you learn anything here that you plan on applying to your next picnic or family outing? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Potato Salad/James via flic.kr

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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