Polishing silverware seems like something only grandmothers and butlers do, right? Nowadays, we're inundated with "silver" ware and serving ware options that are anything but silver. They're steel, aluminum or, heaven forbid: plastic.
But, if you're lucky enough to have had a grandmother (or butler) pass on some true silver to you, or if you're thrift-savvy enough to find good pieces on your own, you know how much they can transform a meal.
Good silver pieces can last generations, just like silver jewelry. They often come with great stories, too. With what we eat being of the utmost importance, how we eat is equally as critical. That doesn't mean you have to break out the crystal stemware and fine china at every meal…but maybe more often than the holidays or when the in-laws visit. Fine dining helps us savor each bite and take pleasure in the act, rather than scarfing down an In-N-Out burger while sitting in traffic.
Of course, with true silver comes the inevitable tarnish, which can make using it other than appealing. And when you have a look at what's in traditional silverware polish, you'll lose your appetite: Propylene glycol, thiourea, ammonia and 2-Butoxyethanol are common ingredients in silver polish and may be harmful to your health (and the health of your unborn baby if pregnant). Instead, whip up your own silver polish like they probably did when your silver was first being used generations ago.
Silver tarnish can be reduced by properly cleaning and storing after use. Make sure pieces are washed by hand and completely dry before putting them away, and wrapping flatware in flannel can reduce tarnish.
How to Clean Silver
Martha Stewart recommends simply cleaning silver with warm water and dish soap when lightly tarnished. For more stubborn tarnish, you can line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with hot water, about 1/2 cup of baking soda and a few tablespoons of salt. Mix so the salt and soda dissolve, and then add the silver. A chemical reaction occurs that removes the tarnish. Let soak for a few minutes and wipe clean. Leave soaking longer for tougher tarnish.
Another common trick is using white toothpaste to remove tarnish. Use like you would a cream polish and rinse well to remove any lingering minty-fresh flavor.
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Image: nerissa's ring