Over 60 Ways to Use Salt | Reader's Digest

Over 60 Ways to Use Salt

Amazing uses for the most common condiment in your kitchen.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Freshen your garbage disposal

Is an unpleasant odor wafting from your garbage disposal? Freshen it up with salt. Just dump in 1/2 cup salt, run the cold water, and start the disposal. The salt will dislodge stuck waste and neutralize odors.

Remove baked-on food

Yes, you can remove food that has been baked onto cooking pans or serving plates. In fact, it’s easy. Baked-on food can be “lifted” with a pre-treatment of salt. Before washing, sprinkle the stuck-on food with salt. Dampen the area, let it sit until the salt lifts the baked-on food, then wash it away with soapy water.

Soak stains off enamel pans

You can run out of elbow grease trying to scrub burned-on stains off enamel pans. Skip the sweat. Soak the pan overnight in salt water. Then boil salt water in the pan the next day. The stains should lift right off.

Keep oven spills from hardening

The next time food bubbles over in your oven, don’t give it a chance to bake on and cool. Toss some salt on the stuff while it is still liquid. When the oven cools, you’ll be able to wipe up the spill with a cloth. The same technique works for spills on the stovetop. The salt will remove odors too, and if you’d like to add a pleasant scent, mix a little cinnamon in with the salt.

Scrub off burned milk

Burned milk is one of the toughest stains to remove, but salt makes it a lot easier. Wet the burned pan and sprinkle it with salt. Wait about 10 minutes, then scrub the pan. The salt absorbs that burned-milk odor too.

Clean greasy iron pans

Grease can be tough to remove from iron pans, because it is not water-soluble. Shortcut the problem by sprinkling salt in the pan before you wash it. The pan will absorb most of the grease. Wipe the pan out and then wash as usual.

Clean discolored glass

Did your dishwasher fail to remove those stubborn stains from your glassware? Hand-scrubbing failed too? Try this: Mix a handful of salt in a quart of vinegar and soak the glassware overnight. The stains should wipe off in the morning.

Clean your cast-iron wok

No matter how thoroughly you dry them, cast-iron woks tend to rust when you wash them in water. Instead, when you’re done cooking, but while your wok is still hot, pour in about 1/4 cup salt and scrub it with a stiff wire brush. Wipe it clean, then apply a light coating of sesame or vegetable oil before stowing it. Don’t clean a wok with a nonstick coating this way, because it will scratch the coating.

Remove lipstick marks from glassware

Lipstick smudges on glassware can be hard to remove, even in the dishwasher. That’s because the emollients designed to help lipstick stay on your lips do a good job sticking to glassware too. Before washing your stemware, rocks glasses, or water tumblers, rub the edges with salt to erase lipstick stains.

Brighten up your cutting boards

After you wash cutting boards and breadboards with soap and water, rub them with a damp cloth dipped in salt. The boards will be lighter and brighter in color.
Clean the refrigerator

We all have to do it sometime, and today it’s your turn. You’ve removed all the food and the racks from the fridge. Now mix up a handful of salt in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) or so of warm water and use it with a sponge to clean the inside of the refrigerator. The mixture isn’t abrasive, so it won’t scratch surfaces. And you won’t be introducing chemical fumes or odors.

Speed cleanup of messy dough

Here’s a way to make short work of cleanup after you’ve rolled out dough or kneaded breads. Sprinkle your floury countertop with salt. Now you can neatly wipe away everything with a sponge. No more sticky lumps.

Erase tea and coffee stains

Tea and coffee leave stains on cups and in pots. You can easily scrub away these unattractive rings by sprinkling salt onto a sponge and rubbing in little circles across the ring. If the stain persists, mix white vinegar with salt in equal proportions and rub with the sponge.

Shine your teapot spout

Teapots with seriously stained spouts can be cleaned with salt. Stuff the spout with salt and let it sit overnight or at least several hours. Then run boiling water through the pot, washing away the salt and revealing the old sparkle. If the stain persists, treat the rim with a cotton swab dipped in salt.

Clean your coffee percolator

If your percolated coffee tastes a bit bitter these days, try this: Fill the percolator with water and add 4 tablespoons salt. Then percolate as usual. Rinse the percolator and all of its parts well and the next pot you make should have that delicious flavor we all love.

Revive overcooked coffee

You made a pot of coffee and then got distracted for an hour. Meanwhile, the coffee continued to cook in the pot and now it’s bitter. Before you throw out the brew, try adding a pinch of salt to a cup.

Prevent grease splatters

How many times have you been burned by splattering grease while cooking bacon when all you wanted was a hearty breakfast? Next time, add a few dashes of salt to the pan before beginning to fry foods that can splatter. You’ll cook without pain and you won’t have to clean grease off your cooktop.

Speed up cooking time

In a hurry? Add a pinch or two of salt to the water you are boiling food in. This makes the water boil at a higher temperature so the food you are cooking will require less time on the stovetop. Keep in mind: Salt does not make the water boil faster.

Shell hard-boiled eggs with ease

Ever wonder whether there’s a secret to peeling hard-boiled eggs without breaking the shell into a million tiny pieces? There is, and now it’s out of the box! Add a teaspoon of salt to your water before placing the eggs in it to boil.

Make perfect poached eggs

You know it’s possible to keep the whites intact when you poach eggs — you’ve had them in a restaurant. But no matter how careful you are, the whites always diffuse into the water when you poach eggs at home. Here’s the secret the restaurant chefs know: Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon salt into the water just before you put in your eggs. This helps to “set” the whites in a neat package. A dash of vinegar also helps, and improves the taste of the eggs too.

Test an egg’s freshness

In doubt about whether your eggs are fresh? Add 2 teaspoons salt to 1 cup water and gently place the egg in the cup. A fresh egg will sink. An old one floats.

Shell pecans easier

Pecans can be tough nuts to crack. And once you do crack them, it can be tough to dig out the meat. Soak the nuts in salt water for several hours before shelling, and the meat will come cleanly away from the shells.

Wash spinach more easily

Fresh spinach leaves are lovely to look at, but their curving, bumpy surface makes it difficult to wash away all the dirt that collects in the crevices. Try this trick: Wash spinach leaves in salted water. Dirt is driven out along with salt in the rinse water, and you can cut the rinses down to just one.

Keep salad crisp

Do you need to prepare leafy salad in advance of a dinner party? Lightly salt the salad immediately after you prepare it, and it will remain crisp for several hours.

Revive wrinkled apples

Do your apples need a face-lift? Soak them in mildly salted water to make the skin smooth again.

Stop cut fruit from browning

You’re working ahead, making fruit salad for a party and you want to make sure your fresh-cut fruit looks appetizing when you serve the dish. To ensure that cut apples and pears retain their color, soak them briefly in a bowl of lightly salted water.

Use to whip cream and beat eggs

The next time you whip cream or beat eggs, add a pinch of salt first. The cream will whip up lighter. The eggs will beat faster and higher, and they’ll firm up better when you cook them.

Keep your milk fresh

Add a pinch of salt to a carton of milk to make it stay fresh longer. Works for cream too.

Prevent mold on cheese

Cheese is much too expensive to throw away because it has become moldy. Prevent the mold by wrapping the cheese in a napkin soaked in salt water before storing it in the refrigerator.

Extinguish grease fires

Store your box of salt next to the stove. Then, should a grease fire erupt, toss the salt on it to extinguish the flames. Never pour water on a grease fire — it will cause the grease to splatter and spread the fire. Salt is also the solution when the barbecue flames from meat drippings get too high. Sprinkling salt on the coals will quell the flames without causing a lot of smoke and cooling the coals as water does.

Pick up spilled eggs

If you’ve ever dropped an uncooked egg, you know what a mess it is to clean up. Cover the spill with salt. It will draw the egg together and you can easily wipe it up with a sponge or paper towel.