Pine Resin or Rosin Potatoes
People are fascinated by the idea of cooking a potato in a pot of boiling pine resin.
Those who have had potatoes cooked this way say that they are the best potatoes they've
ever eaten. The secret lies in the fact that the boiling resin distributes the heat evenly
around the cooking potato.
Forest workers, sawmill employees, and just plain country folk in the South used to tap
the numerous pine trees in the region to harvest the pine sap and sell it for making
turpentine, among other uses. Somehow, maybe by accident, someone found that a potato
cooked in boiling pine resin was exceptionally delicious. They got so popular in the
South that hardware stores used to sell a "rosin potato cooker" - a cast iron pot
pre-filled with rosin. You just put it over a fire, heated it up until the rosin melted
and started boiling, and dropped in your potatoes.
You don't wrap them in paper first - you put the potatoes in boiling pine sap in a cast
iron pot and let them cook until they rise to the surface - that's the signal that they're
done. Then, with a slotted spoon or tongs or a stick, you carefully lift the hot potato out
of the sap and roll it up in butcher's paper or a brown paper bag and twist the ends to
keep it hot until it's served.
When you're ready to eat the potato, you cut it lengthwise through the paper and then add
butter, salt, pepper, even sour cream and bacon bits if you want. By the way - you don't
eat the skin with the resin on it, just the inside.
Simple, huh? Except that you can't go down to your local hardware store and buy rosin cookers
or bulk rosin any more.
The pot is not much of a problem - any pot suitable for deep frying should also be suitable
as a resin pot - Finding suitable resin is the difficulty. I have searched the web several
times, and the only rosin that I can find for sale is small quantities such as are used by
athletes to dry their sweaty hands, and by artists. Of course, rosin is expensive when bought
that way. However, there does not appear to be any place at all on the web that sells bulk
pine rosin suitable for filling a pot to cook potatoes.(But - See below.) You might be able
to get it from a turpentine manufacturer. "Resin" and "rosin" are used interchangeably. Just
be sure it's pine resin and not something else.
While I was searching, I found a few web sites that seemed to want to confuse pine resin with
"pine tar". "Pine tar", according to the dictionary, is distilled pine resin. It's
pretty nasty stuff, and I'd think twice before trying to cook potatoes in it. Also, please
note that both pine resin and pine tar are highly flammable. Cooking potatoes in resin is not
something to be undertaken lightly. It's done outside, on a fire, not inside on your stove.
Pine rosin for cooking potatoes is quite difficult to find. Independent hardware stores in
Georgia and Florida might have it.
Online sources come and go. The only active online source that I can find is "Diamond G Forest Products".
See: Diamond G Forest Products
Amazon.com also has rosin potato products, but I believe it comes from Diamond as well.
Rosin Potato Kit
If you find a good source for cheap pine resin, please send it to me so I can post it here.
If you are interested in seeing what a traditional resin pot for cooking potatoes looks like, see: Resin Potato Pot