Of course you can boil, bake, fry or mash them, but did you know that the wondrous potato also has a wide range of non culinary uses?
by John Pope on March 8, 2016
The humble potato is one of the most widely eaten foods in the world, but it is also one of the most versatile. There really aren’t many ways that you can’t cook a potato and there are a ridiculous number of wonderful recipes that call for them. It is the staple food of millions, and some cultures have been so reliant on this staple food that their entire societies failed when there was a lack of the crop!
What you might not realise is that there are also quite a few non-culinary things that you can use this simple root vegetable for. That is what this little list is about, all of the things you can do with a spud that you have probably never even thought of.
Obviously there is the be arty and make a stamp thing, but everyone knows that one, and even though kids love it, let’s just move on….
Less obvious kitchen uses
– It’s a bit of a nightmare when you spend hours (or even minutes) making a wonderful soup or stew, then taste it and discover that it is over salted. Don’t fear, for there is a simple solution. Cut a couple of raw potatoes into large chunks and chuck them in.
Wash your hands – There are some foods that love to stain everything around them including your hands. Potatoes are not one of them, in fact they do exactly the opposite. When beetroot or berries leave their bright mark on you, just rub your hands with the cut surface of a raw potato to remove the stain.
Make vodka – You might want to check the legality of this where you live before you make a still and you need to make sure you get it right unless you fancy going blind, but anyway… you can definitely use potatoes to make some formidable homemade vodka and it isn’t difficult at all.
Polish silver – The great thing about this is that you can eat the potatoes afterwards. When you boil potatoes, don’t just throw away the water that you boiled them in. After you take the potatoes out, you can use the starchy water to clean silverware. Pop the silver into the water and leave to soak for about half an hour, then just give a good wipe with a soft cloth and be amazed at the shininess.
Remove rust – You can use a potato to remove rust from old (or new and mistreated) metal items, like kitchen knives and other utensils.
Potatoes contain phosphoric acid which eats into rust and will remove it from pretty much any metal surface.
The easiest method is to cut a potato in half and then rub the cut surface over your rusty metal. Leave it for about half an hour for the magic to happen, give it a quick scrub with a scourer and watch the rust disappear! If it isn’t as spangly sparkly clean as you’d like it to be, then just repeat the same process.
Clean your shoes – This is as simple as it is surprising, just chop a potato in half and rub the cut surface onto the leather of the shoes. You will notice a dull whitish bloom appear on the leather, leave it for about five minutes and then use a soft brush or cloth to wipe the shoes clean. Voila, shiny shoes!
Clean glass/windows – For very shiny see-through surfaces, rub them with the cut surface of a raw potato, and then wipe off with a clean cloth.
Clean goggles – Not only clean, but also prevent them from fogging up. Give your googles a bit of a potato rub before chucking yourself down the ski slope.
Remove fabric stains – It really doesn’t matter what the fabric surface is, this works on carpets, sofas and clothes.
Grate a couple of raw potatoes into a small bowl of water and allow them to soak for about half an hour. Then squeeze out the grated potato into the water and discard the potato bits, and rub the mucky looking water into the stain to remove it.
Health and beauty
Lose puffy eyes – Although the image of a vegetable/eye combination that springs most immediately to mind is one involving cucumber, the reality is that potatoes work just as well or better than their green veg brethren.
Cut a couple of slices of raw potato, apply them over your eyes, and then lay back and relax for about twenty minutes. You should feel the immediate relief, but repeat regularly and you will see a visible change.
Soak your feet – Tired, aching feet? Don’t subscribe to some massively overpriced and overly complex concoction with ridiculous infomercials that will promise you the world. Instead, use the leftover water from boiling potatoes, stick your aching hoofs into it and let them soak for a while.
Heal all sorts of things – Potato juice tastes pretty bloody rough, I know because I have just tried it, but…
It is apparently fantastic at curing all sorts of things that might be ailing you. It contains all sorts of vitamins, and allegedly helps to ease heartburn, ulcer pain, spasms, migraines, depression, and just general achiness. It really is as simple as putting a couple of raw washed potatoes into a juicer, blitz and drink! NOTE! – this should not be taken as medical advice!
If your health issue is more external, for example a wart, acne or a burn then you might like to try rubbing the cut surface of a raw potato on it.
Face mask – Eating too many potatoes will probably make your tummy a bit wobblier, but conversely when it comes to your face they can make your skin tighter and healthier.
Blitz potatoes into a paste, rub it all over your face as you would with any other face mask, leave for about a quarter of an hour and then wash it off.
Other random stuff
Remove a broken light bulb – I don’t have too many broken light bulbs to remove from fittings, but it would seem that I might be a bit of an exception, because this tip is all over the internet!
Cut a thick slice of raw potato, press the cut surface onto the broken glass bulb, and then use it like a handle to unscrew the bulb.
Make power! – Yes you really can use a potato to power a light bulb or a digital clock with just a few simple bits of wire to harness the might of the tuber. It’s never going to do anything particularly exciting, but it’s an amusing way to waste a few minutes.
It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but I reckon it is an interesting one nonetheless. If you have any other unusual ways to use a potato then let us know in the comments!