You know all that talk about super foods? Well, forget the nutritional miracles supposedly wrought by expensive berries and the like. Instead, fix your gaze upon the humble potato lurking in the bottom of the bag or at the back of the vegetable rack.
Yes: that knobbly brown thing with a couple of clods of mud attached. It may not have the glamour quotient of an acai berries but surely, in your heart you always knew that something tasting THAT good when roasted or fried would have special magical qualities.
Here are five money-saving uses for a potato. By the way, before you ask, these are uses I have tried and tested, and they don’t include making vodka. I’m not brave enough to try that – and even if I was, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for sending any of you blind.
So here we go:
1. Eye Compresses. Tired, puffy eyes? Lie down for 10 minutes with a slice of potato over each eye. Then chuck the potato slices in the composter and take a look a mirror. You will be pleasantly surprised: the potato makes the puffiness go away. Don’t ask me how this works, because I have no idea. But it does work. Try it!
2. Cleaning silver. Next time you have a saucepan of water in which you have been boiling potatoes, don’t chuck it down the sink. Use it to clean your silver jewellery and other silverware. It’s super-easy: just drop your silver into the warm water, and leave it there. An hour later, pluck your magically-cleaned silver from the pan and give it a rinse. (My other thrifty method for cleaning silver, which uses salt water and aluminium foil, also works a treat and is great for fiddly items such as jewellery.)
3. Soothing sunburn. Admittedly, I haven’t done this one for quite some time (shakes fist at the North Yorkshire drizzle outside the window), but a potato poultice can do wonders for sunburn. Grate a handful of raw potato, wrap it in a piece of muslin (or a thin tea towel, if you don’t keep muslin in the kitchen). Apply to your painful sunburn. The soothing effect also applies to regular burns, if the skin is unbroken.
If you have been an absolute ninny and scorched large swathes of your body, I have also seen it recommended to turn the raw grated potato into a paste, by mixing it with water, then applying it to the skin directly. I cannot vouch for this though, because I haven’t tried it, so if you give it a go please let me know if it works.
4. Removing broken lightbulbs safely. Have you ever been faced with the jagged little problem of removing a smashed lightbulb from its socket? This never used to happen to me until energy-saving bulbs became commonplace: the thin glass seems to be particularly fragile in my clumsy hands. When it happens, at least I can remove the bulbs safely: I cut a suitably-sized potato in half, then jam one of the halves into the broken bulb, and twist to remove the bulb from the socket.
5. Saving oversalted food from the bin. We have all been there: the dinner is bubbling away merrily on the hob, then you go and ruin in with over-enthusiastic seasoning. Damn you, salt!
Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of – yes, you guessed it – slices of potato. Add them to the dish while it is still cooking, and the slices will absorb salt. I am not going to pretend that this will restore your food to its pre-salted glory, but it will certainly help to save your dinner from the bin.
P.S. If this post has whetted your appetite for thrifty ways to use veg around the house, check out its fruity-tooty companion post: Six Thrifty Uses For a Lemon.