HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
What are you cooking today?

Unmarked salt and pepper shakers

raj1 Nov 1, 2006 04:35 PM

When you have unmarked salt and pepper shakers--one with one hole on the top, the other with two or three--how do you fill them? I put the salt in the single-hole shaker because it flows more freely and pepper in the multi-hole shaker because it does not. What do you do?

  1. c
    cheryl_h Nov 1, 2006 05:21 PM

    I do the same as you. Salt goes into the shaker with larger holes, pepper in the one with smaller.

    1. MMRuth Nov 1, 2006 05:22 PM

      I actually thought it was the opposite - salt in shaker with multiple, but usually smaller holes, pepper in the one with one hole.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth
        melly Nov 24, 2006 03:11 AM

        I have one with 5 holes and one with 3 holes.....holes are the same size. What now?

      2. Infomaniac Nov 1, 2006 05:27 PM

        I'm starting to get ready for the holidays and I have a Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus salt and pepper shaker. They both have the same number of holes on top. My sister says the salt goes in Santa, and the pepper in Mrs. Claus. I took her word for it, but now I'm wondering why?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Infomaniac
          Kater Nov 2, 2006 04:07 PM

          Your sister is hysterical!

          I can't wait to hear what she tells you when you ask her why....

          1. re: Kater
            Infomaniac Nov 2, 2006 04:39 PM

            This was her reasoning. Santa is old salt, and Mrs. Claus is hot, like pepper.

            1. re: Infomaniac
              Kater Nov 2, 2006 05:06 PM

              You sister thinks Mrs. Claus is hot?

              That's one of the weirdest things I've heard today!

              Clearly the pepper goes inside Santa because both of them are so well travelled!

              1. re: Kater
                Infomaniac Nov 2, 2006 06:30 PM

                I usually don't use table salt, so I'm happy with my hands on Mrs. Claus

                1. re: Infomaniac
                  yayadave Nov 6, 2006 11:44 PM

                  I think smarmy sister should buy you clear glass shakers from Wally World and you could put Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the mantel.

          2. re: Infomaniac
            browniebaker Nov 2, 2006 04:47 PM

            I think it's because Santa and salt come first in each pair. We say Santa and Mrs. Claus, salt and pepper, not the reverse.

          3. MMRuth Nov 1, 2006 05:33 PM

            Link to a non-definitive discussion of the matter:


            2 Replies
            1. re: MMRuth
              cheryl_h Nov 1, 2006 05:38 PM

              I found the same confusing answers. As I don't have either salt or pepper shakers, but grinders for both, I hope I never face this problem!

              1. re: cheryl_h
                MMRuth Nov 1, 2006 05:39 PM

                I rarely get mine out ... at the table we use a little dish for the salt when it's just the two of us ... for whatever reason, I don't put pepper on the table for our daily meals.

            2. jfood Nov 1, 2006 11:40 PM

              small holes = salt
              large holes = pepper

              1. b
                browniebaker Nov 2, 2006 04:48 PM

                I have long been confused by this. Thank goodness for this forum for sufferers. My shakers have same-size holes, but one has three holes and the other has five holes. I put the salt in the three-hole, and the pepper in the five-hole. But then I saw in a store that the manufacturer had them labelled the reverse. Whoa.

                1 Reply
                1. re: browniebaker
                  melly Nov 24, 2006 03:12 AM

                  Me too! I like pepper better than salt, so I guess it makes sense for me.

                2. mamaciita Nov 6, 2006 11:09 PM

                  This is a subject of ongoing debate at our house.

                  In my family, we fill the shaker with the most holes with salt, the shaker with the fewest holes with pepper.

                  In my husband's family, the opposite.

                  In our house, we use grinders, which REALLY confuses my 80-year-old father-in-law.

                  I think my grandmother had a set that was marked "salt" (most holes) and "pepper" (fewest holes).

                  I usually do a "test shake" into my hand, just in case.

                  1. Vexorg Nov 6, 2006 11:50 PM

                    I use a pepper grinder myself (and rarely use table salt anyway) but generally I'd much rather have pepper in the one with more holes. There seems to be a lot of pepper shakers out there that take forever to dispense a sufficient quantity of pepper for my liking, and having less holes certainly doesn't seem to be helping here (I've been half-tempted on occasion to rig up one of Alton Brown's cordless drill powered pepper blasters to remedy this.)

                    1. bolivianita Nov 7, 2006 01:26 AM

                      I have always thought that the salt went in the shaker with more holes b/c you usually use salt more liberally and the pepper in the one with less holes. I don't use a pepper shaker either and just put the pepper grinder on the table. My salt shaker is actually labeled pepper but I liked the way it looked so I use it for salt. (My Mom has the one that says salt, they were my Grammas, and she won't let me have it until...well you know.)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bolivianita
                        Blueicus Nov 8, 2006 08:16 AM

                        Heh, I always thought the opposite, since it's pretty easy to oversalt a dish and an oversalted dish is more unpalatable (at least to me) than an overpeppered dish... not to mention salt comes out easier than pepper.

                      2. Scagnetti Nov 8, 2006 04:09 PM

                        I have a follow-up salt and pepper shaker question:

                        Why do people in a restaurant take a salt shaker and shake salt into their hand first before they put it on their food?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Scagnetti
                          Infomaniac Nov 8, 2006 04:15 PM

                          My guess would be to see how fast the salt comes out so they do not over salt their food.

                          1. re: Infomaniac
                            MarkhamDee Nov 8, 2006 04:17 PM

                            I know my dad always did this at diners we stopped in while travelling, because the one time he didn't, someone had loosened up the top on the shaker, and he ended up with salt dumped in a pile on his plate.

                          2. re: Scagnetti
                            cheryl_h Nov 8, 2006 05:51 PM

                            I do this so I can gauge how much salt I'm adding. I usually measure salt while cooking this way too.

                          3. p
                            pmadden Nov 21, 2006 02:42 AM

                            I have always used the shaker with more holes as a pepper shaker. In fact, I had no idea that there was any other way to do it. More disturbing than this recent awakening is the fact that my fiance was raised to put SALT in the shaker with more holes. There are many things that a married couple can work through, but I am not sure this is one of them. I think in this particular matter she must submit if the marriage is to be saved. Interstingly enough, she tried to defuse the argument by finding a source which explained that there is a flavor camp (salt in the shaker with more holes because you use it more), and a flow camp (pepper in the shaker with more holes because it doesn't flow as well and needs all the help it can get). While I agree pepper should be in the more porous shaker via the "flow theory", I do not beleive that both have equal merit. This is a calling to all flow advocates to join together and ruthlessly destroy are less enlightened counterparts.

                            1. r
                              Rick Nov 25, 2006 03:39 PM

                              I always put the salt into my hand first at restaurants also. My reason is that the shakers at restaurants usually dispense salt in quicker and larger quantities than I want. So a few shakes into the hand then a few pinches onto the food. I hate over salted dishes.

                              1. j
                                jghejnal Feb 23, 2012 08:51 AM

                                I was told that you should use the one with the most holes for pepper and salt in the least holes.
                                The reason being is that pepper is harder to get out of a shaker while the salt runs out freely. I hope this is helpful.

                                1. s
                                  sandylc Feb 23, 2012 09:40 PM

                                  Hate hate hate preground pepper! Growing up I thought I hated pepper, because my mother cooked with the preground stuff. We had a grinder on the table, but why would I want more of that awful stuff? I called it gunpowder and eventually managed to get her to stop putting it in the mashed potatoes!

                                  Fast forward, I discovered freshly ground pepper and couldn't believe that it had been right under my nose all along!

                                  Moral of the story, throw away whichever shaker you have designated to be the non-salt one!

                                  Show Hidden Posts