The claim: Shine tarnished silver.
Did it work? Yes! Mildly tarnished silverware and earrings shined right up after a soak in potato cooking water, but a deeply tarnished fork needed a stronger polish.
To try it: Boil a few peeled or sliced potatoes until soft, then remove them from the water (and make mashed potatoes, of course). Add the tarnished silver and let stand for one hour. Shine the pieces with a clean cloth, then wash with hot soapy water and dry right away to keep the tarnish away.
The claim: Make rubber stamps.
Did it work? Yes. If you’re skilled enough to carve a halved potato into a neat shape and don’t mind potato juices gunking up your inkpad, this works. If you’re less handy with a knife, it might be worth dropping $5 for a rubber stamp.
To try it: Halve a potato crosswise and draw a simple shape with a fine-tipped permanent marker. Using a sharp knife, cut away the potato flesh around the shape, 1/4 –inch deep, and use as a stamp. If you want to keep your ink pads clean, you can also dip these stamps in poster paint.
The claim Clean food-stained hands.
Did it work? Yes! Washing beet- and carrot-stained hands with a potato does clean them, but it wasn’t more effective than regular soap and water. A potato is super effective for scrubbing under fingernails, too.
To try it: Halve a potato lengthwise, and scrub your stained hands with it, while rinsing under cold water, lavishing extra attention on your fingernails.
The claim: Recover a too-salty soup.
Did it work? Sort of. A potato will absorb some of the seasoning but it might not be enough for a heavily salted soup.
To try it: If you were just a touch too heavy-handed with the seasoning, add a potato to the soup, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potato (and make some nicely seasoned mashed potatoes, again). For a too-too-salty soup, add some water and the peeled potato; the water will dilute the salt, while the potato will give the broth a lovely sheen.
The claim: Make a hot or cold compress.
Did it work? Yes! Cooked potatoes tend to hold their temperature for a good long while but the trick requires a little planning ahead.
To try it: For a hot compress, boil a potato in water until soft (about 20 minutes), then wrap in a towel and use; it will stay warm for up to 1 hour. For a cold compress, refrigerate the boiled potato until well-chilled (about 2 hours); it will stay chilled for about 30 minutes.
The claim: Soothe minor burns.
Did it work? Yes! The juicy flesh from a raw potato really does relieve a minor cooking burn (and some people even swear by the trick for sunburn, too).
To try it: Put a slice of potato right on the painful spot, or, even better, grate a little bit of raw potato into a paste and apply it to the burn. Say, “Ahhhhh.”
The claim: Remove eye make-up.
Did it work: No! Not only did wiping the moist side of a potato peel across made-up eyelids not remove a scrap of make-up, it also felt icky. A tissue soaked with a little olive oil, or you know, makeup remover is much gentler and more effective.
To try it: Just don’t.