Potato salad is a German creation from sometime in the 17th century, shortly after potatoes were introduced to mass agriculture. The first recognizable recipes for potato salad emerge only in the 19th century, with the codification of national cuisines. As Germany was not a unified nation-state until 1871, potato salad retains a highly regional character. You can divide Germany into roughly four parts depending on which ingredients are used. Southern Germany and the Rhineland use vinaigrette sauces, whereas North Germany uses mayonnaise-based ones. Western Germany favors simple salads, limited to potatoes and a few optional ingredients such as pickles or onion. In contrast, Eastern Germany prefers salads rich with other elements such as eggs, carrots, radishes, and other vegetables.
The potato salad was brought to the US by settlers from Northern Germany. As a result, most American recipes for potato salad are mayonnaise based and feature hard-boiled eggs, which are characteristics of the salads from Mecklenburg and Brandenburg. The Texan elements are the addition of more spices and sugar. This is a version from a family cookbook from German Settlers in Texas.
Texas-German Potato Salad
- 6 Medium-Large Potatoes, of the kind which remain firm after boiling.
- 4 Hard-boiled Eggs
- 4 Spiced/Sweet Pickles
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 Pimento or ½ Bell Pepper
- ⅛ tsp Paprika
- ½ tsp Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black Pepper
- ¼ tsp Celery Salt
- ¾ cup Mayonnaise
- ½ tsp Mustard
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 3 tbsp Vinegar Back in the olden days, they actually used pure white vinegar. Please use a proper wine or white condiment vinegar, it will taste so much better.
- Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until pierced easily with a fork. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
- Chop the potatoes into bite-sized cubes, then dice the eggs, pickles, onions, and pimento pepper.
- Mix everything together in a large bowl, along with the salt, pepper, and celery salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the sugar, paprika, mustard, and vinegar. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and mix well.
- Let set for an hour and then serve cold. Garnish with some more paprika for color.