This Old-Fashioned Potato Salad with Vinegar and Fresh Herbs recipe uses all the classic ingredients, with a few twists. Tender potato, crunchy celery, onion, pickles, and black olives are combined with a delicious vinegar-based mayo dressing and are then tossed with fresh herbs. Hard-cooked eggs, optional.
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad - How it came to be
This recipe for Old-Fashioned Potato Salad with Vinegar and Fresh Herbs has been in my family forever. This is the potato salad I grew up on. Although I do make different kinds of potato salads such as my recipe for Easy Creamy Low-Fat Potato Salad and Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Green Beans, when it comes to one being most requested, this is the one.
What makes this Potato Salad Different?
- Putting apple cider vinegar directly onto the freshly cut, still-warm potatoes makes a huge difference in the flavor of the salad. This vinegar infusion seasons the potatoes from the inside, not just a coating on the outside.
- Using Idaho potatoes. Most recipes today use red or Yukon Gold potatoes. While these a fine potatoes, and can be used in this recipe, the Idaho with its starchy inside is the best potato to use as it absorbs the vinegar easily.
- Adding fresh herbs. The fresh herbs give the whole salad a really fresh taste.
- Old-Fashioned Potato Salad - How it came to be
- What makes this Potato Salad Different?
- Old-Fashioned Potato Salad Ingredients and Substitutions
- Tips for Success
- Potato Salad Storage and Safe Handling
- What to serve with Old-Fashioned Potato Salad with Vinegar and Fresh Herbs
- Old-Fashioned Potato Salad with Vinegar and Fresh Herbs
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad Ingredients and Substitutions
- Russet Potatoes - Preferably from Idaho as they know how to grow their potatoes. You could substitute another potato, but since in the old days our potato choices were fairly limited I always use russet. The russet potatoes starchy inside makes it perfect for absorbing the vinegar. If you want to use a different potato, then I would use Yukon Gold as it is both semi-starchy and semi-waxy. Red potatoes or any waxy potato can work but will not absorb the vinegar as well.
- Diced onion - Sweet onions work well with this salad, Vidalia or Wala Wala. For a bit more tang, use red onion or yellow onion.
- Celery - For best results use the inside heart of the celery and include some of the leaves.
- Canned black olives - My sister insisted that the family potato salad had to include black olives, so I included them. You don't have to.
- Dill pickles - Many recipes use pickle relish. I do not relish that idea. Just dice some pickles for the salad. If you don't like dill, then use a sweet pickle.
- Fresh Herbs - I generally use parsley and a bit of dill. Tarragon is a nice herb to add as is Lemon Verbena.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - There is no substitute if you want this salad to be an authentic old-fashioned potato salad with vinegar and fresh herbs!
- Mayonaise - Use a good quality commercial brand, Hellman's (east coast and south) Best Foods, (west coast), or homemade.
- Yellow Mustard - Adds a bit of color and tang. You could use Djon mustard as a substitute.
- Salt and pepper
- Hard Cooked Eggs - Totally optional. I personally hate hard-boiled eggs. We had a bad experience at sea, but if you like them you can add them chopped or cut into halves and place them around the edge of the salad bowl.
Tips for Success
- Try to keep all the potatoes about the same size for even cooking.
- Do not overcook, or undercook the potatoes. Overcooked and the result will be mashed potato salad, undercooked will result in crunchy potato salad. Crunch in the celery is awesome, crunch in the potato is not so good. The potato is properly cooked when a paring knife or thin skewer can be inserted through the potato with no resistance.
- Do not peel the potato. If using russet, you will need to peel them after they have cooled. Yukon gold and red potatoes can be left skin-on if desired.
- Once cooked drain the potatoes and fill the pot with cold water from the tap.. Allow the potatoes to sit in the water until cool enough to handle, then peel, if necessary.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, peeled (or not), and cubed into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and add the apple cider vinegar. Toss to mix, then allow them to sit and absorb the vinegar.
- I like to add the onions and pickles to the still-warm potatoes as well, allowing them to wilt slightly. Add the celery, olives, herbs, and eggs if using, when the mixture is cool.
I add vinegar to the warm potatoes to get the flavor into the potato, not just have a mayonnaise coating. It also helps keep the potatoes from drying out and becoming too starchy.
Of course, you can use as much or as little mayo as you would like. Personally, I like my potato salad to be not too overly mayonnaisey as it tends to overpower the more subtle flavors of the salad.
Yes, you can. I would use a fruity olive oil. Just enough to coat everything.
This potato salad could be eaten immediately or for best results, refrigerate for a few hours at least, but it is best overnight.
Potato Salad Storage and Safe Handling
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad does contain mayonnaise so do keep it refrigerated. If taking it to a picnic or other outdoor event, leave it in the cooler until ready to serve. When done, return it promptly to the cooler or refrigerator.
This salad will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Store in an airtight container.
Potato salad does NOT FREEZE well.
What to serve with Old-Fashioned Potato Salad with Vinegar and Fresh Herbs
While this potato salad is great with any thing, these are a few of my favorite things to serve it with.
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad with Vinegar and Fresh Herbs
- About 3 pounds of russet potatoes try to keep them all the same size for even cooking, skins on
- ½ cup Diced sweet onion or to your taste
- ½ cup Diced celery hearts with some of the inside leaves, or to your taste
- ⅓ cup Canned black olive slices Optional, or to your taste
- ⅓ cup Diced dill pickles or to your taste
- Apple cider vinegar about ¼ cup or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup Mayonnaise I use low-calorie mayo
- 1 tablespoon Yellow Mustard or Djon
- Fresh minced herbs parsley, dill, tarragon, lemon verbena (as desired)
- Place the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold well salted water. Bring to a simmer and cook until just cooked through (do not overcook or you will have mashed potatoes when you stir and don't undercook or you will have crunchy potatoes and that's not good, so just when a paring knife goes through the thickest part easily, they are done).
- Take the pot, drain and run cold water over the potatoes; let the potatoes sit in cool water until cool enough to handle. When cool enough to handle (you do want them still warm) peel them; cut into quarters and then slice about ¼ inch thick. Place in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper, then pour some apple cider vinegar onto the still-warm potatoes and stir. You want a good vinegeriness to them; add the celery, onions, black olives and pickles, stir; then add mayonnaise to taste (I don't use but maybe ½ cup of mayo so the salad does not become a mayonnaise salad, but the vinegar and potatoes and other ingredients shine through) along with the mustard. Mix well.Add the freshly minced herbs and gently stir.
- Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours at least, best over night.