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20 Nearly Forgotten Kitchen Secrets from the Past

Grandma knows all the best kitchen tips and tricks to save you time, money and effort. You'll want to stock up on ketchup and molasses.

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Clean Up With Condiments

Reader S.N. Downs says, “Ketchup does a great job of polishing copper cookware. Just rub a small amount on the bottom of discolored pots or pans, let stand for a few minutes, rub again and rinse.” Here are more unexpected ways to clean up with ketchup.

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pancakes, breakfastTaste of Home

Stretch Pricey Maple Syrup

Reader Edna Hoffman advises stretching maple syrup by adding 1 cup applesauce to 1 cup syrup. “Heated, it makes a delicious topping for pancakes and waffles.” Love genius kitchen hacks? Grab a copy of Taste of Home Kitchen Hacks ($12). It includes 100 hints, tricks and timesavers—plus recipes to go with them.

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Use Your Common Cents

Is your kitchen scale accurate? Reader Karen Ann Bland says there’s an easy way to tell. “Place nine pennies on the scale. They should weigh exactly one ounce.” Learn why a kitchen scale is a game-changer in your kitchen.

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rsooll/Shutterstock

A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Keep That Berry Basket

Reader Ethel Williams says a quart-sized berry basket makes a good egg keeper. “It holds about a dozen eggs and takes up little refrigerator space.” These genius organization tips will transform your refrigerator.

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Closeup Pouring Cream into Cup of Hot Coffee.; Shutterstock ID 571084270; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHSergey Zaykov/Shutterstock

Stop Drips in Their Tracks


Add milk to your coffee without making a mess. Reader Bertha Mueller says, “Rub a small amount of butter on the lip of your creamer, and you’ll have no more drips on the tablecloth.” And, yes, it is possible to make your own flavored coffee creamer at home.

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Tailor. Man Hands notch tailor tailor's scissors cloth. Close Up.; Shutterstock ID 624499169; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHEkaterina Iatcenko/Shutterstock

Give Fabric a Second Chance


Don’t throw away your worn tablecloths. Instead, reader Helen LaMance says you can make a variety of dish towels and napkins from them. Here’s how to upcycle Grandma’s vintage napkins.

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Healthy oatmeal cookies on plate over wooden background, top view; Shutterstock ID 740216929; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHTatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock

Make a Money-Saving Swap


Save money without sacrificing flavor. Reader Mary Jane Swanner says, “For an economical substitute to chopped nuts in cookie recipes, use quick-cooking oats browned in a bit of butter.” These time-saving kitchen hacks will change your life.

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Cooking Process Of Apple Roses. Sliced Apples; Shutterstock ID 1377976715; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHLukaKikina/Shutterstock

Keep Apples Looking Fresh


To prevent browning when working with peeled apples, Bernetta Rokusek recommends slicing them into water with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice added.  By the way, this is the only apple pie recipe you will ever need.

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Flat lay. Scooping vanilla cupcake batter into cupcake liners.; Shutterstock ID 1235337202; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHArina P Habich/Shutterstock

Bake Perfectly Portioned Muffins


Reader Teresa Graham has a smart breakfast tip. She says, “Use a turkey baster to fill muffin cups all the same size—and to make no-drip hotcakes.” Discover more genius ways to use a muffin tin.

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Different types of tomatoes, dark background.Nina Firsova/Shutterstock

Ripen Tomatoes in a Rush

Tired of waiting for your green tomatoes to turn red? Reader Anne Schofield says, “Place unripened tomatoes with other fruit, especially pears, to speed up ripening.” Pro tip: Tomatoes are just one of the 13 foods you’re likely storing incorrectly.

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Preparing dough for chocolate pie on table close up; Shutterstock ID 328770371; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Give Brownies a Flavor Boost


Take your brownies from simple to scrumptious. Reader Marcy Wright says, “Substitute brown sugar for granulated sugar for a rich caramel flavor in brownies.” Do you know the difference between light and dark brown sugar? 

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Young potatoes boiled in pot on wooden board on white wooden table; Shutterstock ID 1398365882; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHsuperelaks/Shutterstock

Boil Potatoes Before Baking


To bake potatoes quickly, reader Maxine Martin says, “Boil them in salted water for 10 minutes, and then put them into the oven. The boiling water will heat the potatoes more rapidly than if they were placed into the cold oven.” This is how to make baked potatoes in your slow cooker.

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Preparing deviled eggs with organic eggs for appetizer. Step by step recipe.; Shutterstock ID 515807359; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHArina P Habich/Shutterstock

Repurpose Your Decorating Tools


A cake frosting bag and decorating tip are not just for birthday cakes. Reader Dawn Lofthus says, “They also work great for filling deviled eggs. It’s decorative and fast.” Check out the secret trick for the best-ever deviled eggs.

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Just Add Cocoa


More chocolate is always a good idea. Reader Lois Hill says, “When making chocolate cake, use cocoa instead of flour to coat your cake pan. This will keep the cake from having that white-flour dust on it when you remove it from the pan.” This secret to making perfect chocolate cake may surprise you.

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Overhead close view of broken pieces of sesame round melba toast on a white plate.; Shutterstock ID 1284342067; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBW Folsom/Shutterstock

Toast and Shout


Need bread crumbs fast? Reader Dawn Leedy says, “Put two slices of bread in the toaster, transfer them to a sandwich bag, and then crush them with a soup can or rolling pin.” Is it safe to wash and reuse zip-top bags?

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female woman artisan baker at home baking a sweet dough cookies, series from the whole process available ; Shutterstock ID 1073819714; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHPaul Schlemmer/Shutterstock

Use a Make-Shift Cookie Cutter


If your cookie cutters aren’t handy, don’t hang up your apron. Reader Dorothy Blessing says, “A small can of corn or a water glass makes perfectly round cookies.” Don’t miss these fun and clever ways to repurpose your cookie cutter shapes.

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Adding Molasses into Egg Mixture. Making Treacle Pie Series.; Shutterstock ID 1130732765; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHffolas/Shutterstock

Mix in Molasses


A short stack won’t be nearly enough if you follow reader LaFlorya Gauthier’s advice. She says, “Pancakes will brown just beautifully if you add 1 tablespoon of molasses to the batter.” Don’t make these common pancake mistakes.

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Making Gravy On The Restaurant StoveNatashaPhoto/Shutterstock

Thicken Sauces in an Instant


Need a little thickening for gravy? Reader Fay Meredith says, “I keep a container of instant potato flakes handy, adding a small amount to obtain the right consistency. They’re great, too, for thickening chowders, soups and stews.” You should always stock these items in your kitchen.

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orange in the hole ot hte food waste disposer; Shutterstock ID 24172744; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHYarik/Shutterstock

Add a Naturally Fresh Scent


After squeezing an orange, lemon or grapefruit for fresh juice, reader Mildred Everett advises, “Turn the rind inside out and rub the pulp over the sink. Then put small pieces in the disposal while running some water down the drain. This cleans the sink and creates a nice fresh smell.” Yes, you can clean your kitchen without chemicals!

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Two pieces of frozen beef on a board; Shutterstock ID 177201707; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHAlexander62/Shutterstock

Take a Slice of Advice


This helpful tip for dinner preparation comes from reader Katie Koziolek. She says, “Freeze raw beef just until firm, about an hour, to make it easier to slice for stir-fries and stroganoff.” Read up on more brilliant tips we learned from Grandma.

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Originally Published in Country

Lori Vanover
Lori has been a writer and editor for 16 years, fueled by plenty of coffee and chocolate. She hopes to retire someday and become a hot pepper farmer, cake decorator or barbecue pitmaster.