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A Surprising Number of Uses for Tea Towels

By Larraine Roulston:

A stack of fresh, folded tea towels is a joy to have in any kitchen. These soft yet sturdy linens are not only excellent for drying dishes, but also have been found useful in many ways throughout your home.

For example, a tea towel becomes an automatic insulator to cover a tea pot. Acting as an attractive light blanket, it swaddles buns, muffins — even cobs of corn set inside a serving basket. And, your dinner plates will be kept warmer with a tea towel set beneath each. Tables are protected against hot casserole dishes when folded tea towels serve as hot plates.

Place containers apt to drip liquids such as olive oil on a tea towel for absorption. They can also line a refrigerator’s crisper drawers or be smoothed onto a serving tray in order to steady cups.

When working with phyllo pastry, a tea towel covers the portion not being filled. Bread makers, as well, rely on tea towels to cover rising dough.

Is your oven mitt not handy? A tea towel will do! Be mindful, however, not to allow loose ends to touch a hot element.

Greens, herbs and pastry, when covered in a tea towel, can be stored in the refrigerator. Returning to cloth will help us reduce our reliance on plastic wrappings.

When mixing cakes or whipping cream, the fabric will hold wobbly bowls in place on a counter surface.

A tea towel lettuce spinner can be used to rid excess water. Simply set rinsed salad ingredients on a towel, roll it up and hold the ends together to whirl in the air. If cooked spinach, grated veggies, or cottage cheese require minimum moisture, place them on a tea towel, hold over your sink or your kitchen compost collector and squeeze out the excess liquid.

You can bake eggs rather than boil them. This curious recipe demonstrates that, by placing them on a moist tea towel, they can be baked. Something I must remember to try sometime when I have the oven already set at 320 F (160 C).

 Tea towels can always be counted on to wipe up kitchen spills and clean a baby’s face after serving as a bib.

 Tea towels make practical gifts. They are memorable travel souvenirs when displaying maps or history. Some prints are seasonal, while others are quite humorous — many of which even get framed. The fabric also serves as colorful gift wrap. Check out how to make furoshiki-style wrapping

 Given that tea towels are the right size with straight hemmed edges, they easily can be made into bags to hold loose produce. Katherine Martinko  wrote an article and has photographed her crafted bags. As well, she notes AnneMarie Bonneau’s tutorial on how to make your own cloth produce and bulk food bags.

 When moving, you can place tea towels between plates and around glassware and bowls.

 The family barber will squirrel away an old tea towel for catching hair that falls on shoulders. 

 When tea towels have become unbearably thin for any of the above uses, they still will make good polishing cloths for tiles and sink faucets.

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 Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. Visit www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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