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. See:
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