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Serving Food in Silver Serving Pieces ....

I decided to pull out and polish some silver serving pieces to use for lunch on Sunday. I'm not sure I've ever actually used them before, and am wondering if I need to be wary, in terms of affecting the silver (plate), with certain foods. I'll be serving potato puree and braised peas and lettuce. Off hand, I can't imagine any chemical reactions with those, but would be interested in knowing if there are problems with pitting etc. with other foods. I plan to heat them by pouring boiling water.

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  1. I finally got rid of my mother's few silver (plate) serving pieces a number of years ago. Kinda wish I hadn't but.... I've served potatoes and green beans in them with no problem. I wonder if something acidic might be an issue. Sounds lovely.

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      Yes - I have one fun piece that has about 7 different "indentations" that I love to use when I serve Anglo-Curry with all the accoutrements. For the onions and eggs. I put a piece of wax paper down before I add them to the platter. Wasn't sure what else might be problematic.

    2. You will be just fine. Remember that your silver is designed to be used and enjoyed. Frequent use reduces the need for polishing. I think many people are afraid to use silver because they don't want to "harm" it in some way.

      My mother has used my grandmother's silver every day of her life, rarely has to polish it, and is able to remember her mother in a very special way at every meal. Does it show scratches? Of course it does--because it isn't sitting in a display case at all times. Do the scratches diminish its value for her? No--they increase it exponentially.

      6 Replies
      1. re: danwalk

        Yes, I don't mind the scratches. Thanks for the feedback.

        1. re: danwalk

          I'd been thinking how the knife blade isn't silver but the forks and spoons are and they don't have a problem with various chemical reactions so I think that's probably the answer.

          1. re: c oliver

            But, I do think, for example, that eggs will permanently stain silver, if not washed off right away.

            1. re: c oliver

              Blades on knives are generally made of something other than silver because silver is too soft to use for cutting.
              In modern services, they're usually stainless steel and in older sets, carbon steel is common.
              This is normal even with silver plate which would wear too quickly from the friction of cutting.

              Eggs and some other foods will tarnish silver quickly unless the pieces are washed right after use. Eggs have sulpher in them which causes the tarnishing but it's not permanent. Heat will also do it, so it's not a good idea to use your silver to cook with.
              Silver is easy to care for and if you use it regularly, you don't have to spend time polishing. It stays shiny.

              1. re: MakingSense

                Right. I was just making a point that the forks and spoons don't seem to be effected by anything. But, like MMRuth, it seems like I ought to know that there can be a problem but I don't know what it is. :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  Very odd experience: my niece's home in New Orleans was completely under water for more than a month after Katrina and it took us awhile to go through the rubble and pull stuff out. We found my mother's silver flatware service that my niece had gotten when Mama had died. Dumped the water out of the box, and the silver was tarnished dead black. Flat mat black. I'd never seen silver that bad. God only knows what was in that nasty water. We wore gloves and boots every day.
                  Anyway, I worked on the sterling and it polished up beautifully.
                  BUT, there were actual HOLES in the stainless steel knife blades. The water had eaten through them.
                  We sent them off to have the blades replaced and the set is as good as new.

                  Use your silver. That's what it's for. With reasonable care, you can enjoy it every day. It gets prettier and stays shiny and lovely when it's used regularly.
                  You only live once, so live well.

          2. Food that is acidic can discolor, those containing sulfur can oxidize, and salt will corrode silver. If allowed to remain in contact with the silver for a prolonged period of time.

            The amount of exposure from a dinner service shouldn't be a problem.

            1. I have no idea how valid this site and info is but it does address some of the things we were discussing.


              1. You'll be fine with the items above.

                1. I was always told that mustard and sterling don't mix well.
                  I served macadamia nuts in a sterling Revere bowl, and it has been plagued with tarnish pock marks ever since.

                  1. I have a large sterling Revere bowl but it also has a pyrex glass insert. And therein lies the..... protection.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      G, I'm glad you are practicing safe silver. I suppose some combo of salt and oil really bores into silver, but my hallmarked revere bowl is almost impossible to get perfect again, with every best effort. And it is a golf trophy from near you (Brookline), 1993.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Veggo, you could send your prized bowl off to a reputable silvering company who would then resilver it in that electrode thingy bath stuff they use.....
                        Oh well - you know what i mean.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          I do have some silver salt & pepper shakers, and I think one should probably empty them out inbetween uses, as the salt ones are corroded around the holes.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Why do they even make silver salt and pepper shakers? Most silver salt cellars have liners but they come with silver spoons. They always corrode.
                            You have to remember to empty them and especially to remove the spoons after dinner.
                            I have Steuben glass salt cellars with silver spoons and we sometimes forget to remove the tiny spoons. In just a day or two, you can see the salt beginning to do the dirty work on the silver.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              The Steuben salt cellars sound wonderful. Perhaps replace the silver with tiny mother of pearl? I love it that there are some of you that still love to use all the pretty things. I do also. And NO tv on please :)

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                I'm thinking of just using two small Spode Blue Willow bowls that I have from a 19th century child's tea set for the salt - with some silver salt spoons that my MIL gave me that I will make sure to remove from the salt! I collect early blue and white English transferware, and decided to pull out some other piece to use at the table as well. Now I just hope no one drops them!

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I have a small Blue Willow collection myself and ONE piece left from a childhood set of my own. I love using the grill plates for meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas :) Guests get a kick out of that.

                              2. re: MMRuth

                                Absolutely remove the salt from the shakers and/or the spoons from the cellars as soon as you can. I have beautiful handmade silver salt cellars with matching spoons. The interior of the cellars are enameled, so they're fine. But a few of the spoons have become stained and terribly corroded.

                          2. Whenever I serve in silver platters or bowls, whether they are sterling or plate, I use some sort of protection twixt silver and food. Whether tis secondary plates, doilies, or pyrex.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Gio

                              Thanks. I have seen silver serving pieces that have glass or pyrex inserts. I do think I'm safe with the things for this meal, but would be more careful with acidic items.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Mayonnaise has bitten me in the past, in addition to the afore-mentioned eggs & salt.

                            2. Absolutely use all you want. I use mine all the time and love it. Acidic or not. They have lasted years and just clean polish and use. I love them and is so nice to serve a dinner with.

                              Enjoy them and your dinner.

                              1. The killers of your silver are salt (which pits silver) and egg (as in mayonnaise, which blackens silver) so don't let either sit on silver for any length of time. As soon as the meal is over, even if you're leaving cleanup until later, snatch up all the flatware and submerge it in hot soapy water to wait for you. Empty any holloware and wash the pieces immediately using soap and hot water. Also, don't clean your silver by boiling it with baking soda or dipping it in chemicals as this will ruin the patina and make the silver dull and zombie-ish looking.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Querencia

                                  Thanks - I'll keep the pimento cheese away from the silver (wish I had some of those glass inserts for Revere shaped bowls). I've tried that foil and baking soda thing in the past, but I promise that my Christofle will get no where near that mixture. Since we're having lunch, rather than dinner, I hope to get some clean up done before bed time!