For locals like Howard Gelbsman, the latke tradition during Hanukkah is important to pass along to future generations. Gelbsman learned to make latkes from his mother who in turn learned from her mother but Gelbsman takes the family recipe one step further by sharing with others. When he first began making latkes around 1966 or 1967, he taught his children and grandchildren as well as their classmates during school demonstrations and in the Oneonta YMCA. Each year his family recipe is shared even more when Howard makes about 300 latkes for a Hanukkah party.
Gelbsman explained that he loves to make them, but he only makes latkes during Hanukkah typically. Serving the hot and crispy potato dish with things like sour cream or applesauce compliment the pancakes perfectly. These condiments “work well with latkes made from sweet potato or zucchini as well,” Gelbsman said.
Gelbsman’s recipe for latkes is simple, allowing for others to diversify ingredients if they choose to. With all of the possible variations most people prefer recipes that are kept simple and traditional, especially for holidays.
Oil for a frying pan or griddle
4 medium grated potatoes (Howard says that plain white potatoes work fine)
chopped onion (how much depends on whether the cook likes onions or not)
salt and pepper to taste
Matzo meal added (about 1/8 to ¼ cup)
Combine all ingredients, mix well and drop by spoonfuls, like a pancake, into the hot oil. Press to flatten and aid with cooking.
Enjoy latkes during Hanukkah or as potato pancakes any time of year for a side dish or main meal.