Grandma taught the Damsel that saving the best china and silver for “special company” meant it would be rarely used, if ever. And who is more important than family, anyway? So every Sunday, out came the best china, the beautiful silver.
Over the years, a few precious pieces were broken by childish hands, yes. But the message was clear–she loved her family. And, if you wait for that perfect moment to use your nice things, that day may never come.
She also taught the Damsel the best way to keep your silver from tarnishing is to use it often. “Some people don’t want to do that, because a microscopic layer of silver is lost with each washing,” she said. “but is a gracefully thin silver spoon such a bad thing?”
Sometimes, though, getting tarnished silver to a state where you’d actually want to eat off it is a tedious task. In the great houses of the olden days (think “Downton Abbey”) the butler had this charge. But those of us butler-less folk have to struggle on alone, and sometimes there just isn’t time for such niceties.
Here’s the cheater way to detarnishify. The Damsel has heard you shouldn’t use this method for heirloom silver, although she isn’t sure why. Also, don’t use it for silver that has a dark background in its design, because that dark contrast will be removed by this method.
Go thou, and gather the tarnished items.
Line a container with aluminum foil. Could be a cake pan, could even be your sink. As you wish.
Pour in a cup of salt and a cup of baking soda, but don’t fuss about being exact. This ain’t souffle baking. Pour in enough water to submerge the silver items you’re planning to clean. Stir the mixture around a little–you can even just use your fingers. Try not to tear the foil, but it’s no big deal.
Drop the items in. Stand by for instant amazement. A chemical reaction is occurring, where the tarnish is pulled from the silver and deposited onto the aluminum foil. The Damsel has no idea why this works. Please recall she majored in music and hid from any and all chemistry-type thingies. This is as it should be.
Thank you, chemically-inclined people, for being there and taking care of these things for the rest of us. We couldn’t make it without you.
You can leave the silver in the solution for up to 30 minutes, but take it out when it looks “done.” Rinse and polish with a dry cloth. Or, rinse and put in a dish of ice cream for immediate sparkling satisfaction.