Spoons, forks, knives – otherwise known as flatware. What great inventions! History tells us that we were using some form of the spoon and knife first, then along the fork. It most likely originated in the Byzantine Empire in the seventh century. Thank goodness! Can you imagine trying to eat spaghetti with a spoon or soup with a fork? For those of you who enjoy a bit of trivia, did you know that Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1630 had the first and only fork in colonial America?
Most of the flatware we use today is made of stainless steel, silver plate, or sterling silver. Of these, stainless is the most durable. It is highly resistant to staining, dishwasher safe and easy to care for on an everyday basis. Silver plate and sterling silver are also durable but require a little special care and periodic polishing. With a small of amount of care, you can keep your flatware looking like news for years to come.
Washing your flatware by hand is same process as that of washing all other dishes. Always use warm to hot water and use a good, grease cutting dish-washing liquid. Dawn is very good example, it cuts grease better than most other products. Rinse and dry the pieces by hand immediately. Letting them drip dry can cause spotting and streaking, especially with hard water conditions. Try not to use harsh abrasives or steel wool on stainless as this will scratch the finish. If food has dried or caked on the flatware, let it soak it hot, sudsy water for about ten minutes or longer, then wash.
Never put your silver plate or sterling in the dishwasher with your stainless, wash separately. A reaction between the two metals can cause damage to the finishes. Also, remember that stainless steel is harder than silver and will scratch if the two are jostled while in contact.
Before putting your flatware in the dishwasher, always try to rinse off any excess food. A quick rinse in the sink under hot water is all you need. You do not want dried food particles to sit on the flatware until you run the next load of dishes; especially if you will not be running the dishwasher that same day. Salty or acidic foods can eat away at the flatware’s finish if they are left to sit. After you’ve run the dishwasher, make sure that the flatware is completely dry before you put it away.
Removing Streaks, Spots and Discolorations from Stainless, Silver Plate and Sterling
The most common problem in keeping stainless and silver flatware looking its best is streaks and spots on the surface, which stubbornly remain even after washing and drying. Mineral deposits in the water cause these spots from hand washing or from the dishwasher. Dish-washing detergents are harsh chemicals used to clean off stubborn foods, but they can also damage your flatware if they are exposed to flatware when it is wet. Usually dark spots that look like pitting are the result. Another complaint is that over a period of time the surface of the flatware will lose its luster, looking dull, as if a haze is on it. This is a normal occurrence when you use the dishwasher to clean your flatware on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are products you can use to get them looking new again.
A gentle polishing cream designed be used on all metals will remove hazing, pitting and discolorations, a small amount on a soft cloth is all you need to remove most stains. If you put your stainless in the dishwasher all the time, polish it with a polishing cream at least once a year to keep it looking shiny and new. Some safe and gentle polishes are, Flitz, Simichrome, and Wenol.
Silver Plate and Sterling should be polished before you are going to use it. Although sturdy, it does scratch easily and a little bit of the silver is worn away every time you polish it. Use a gentle product designed to be used for silver. Hagerty Silver Wash is an excellent one to use, as it contains a tarnish preventive in it, R-22 that lasts for months. It cleans, polishes, and protects as you wash the silver.
After polishing your silver flatware, storing it in a Flatware Bag or the Hagerty Flatware storage Drawer Liner will keep it looking nice and always ready to use.