Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cleaning copper – the old-fashioned way

Every time we visited Mary in Baltimore, we made a point of having dinner at Woodberry Kitchen, my all-time favorite restaurant. They feature a cocktail there called a Gov't Mule, a gingery-minty-limey vodka drink served over crushed ice in copper mugs. Best cocktail ever.

For Christmas last year, Ed gave me a set of copper mugs, a pitcher and tray. He found them at one of the antique stores in downtown Shelbyville. Because they were highly tarnished, I took them to H & D Brass Polishing on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville and had them polished. They looked great.

But when I pulled them out last night to serve a round of Gov't Mules for New Year's Eve, they were back to being tarnished. I searched among my cleaning products to see if I had some copper polish, but no luck. A quick search on google gave me just what I needed, a simple recipe for my own natural non-toxic copper polish: lemon and salt.

I cut a lemon in two, piled on a teaspoon of salt to the cut lemon and rubbed the copper surfaces. It worked like a charm.

As I worked on them, I had a flashback to a memory of standing in my childhood-home kitchen with my grandmother. My parents had gone somewhere for the weekend and left Grandmommy in charge of my three sisters and me. I remember her looking at my mother's copper-bottomed Revere-ware pots and deciding that they needed a good cleaning. She asked me to look in the refrigerator for some pickles. She poured a bit of pickle juice on a dishrag and wiped each pot bottom. It was like a miracle. They changed from tarnished gray to bright copper in an instant. I was so impressed.

So I guess pickle juice would have done the same job for me as my lemon-salt concoction. I wonder what other house-keeping secrets Grandmommy knew? I wish she was still here to share them with me.


  1. Debbie, this one brought mist to my eyes. What a wonderful memory. I miss both of my grandmothers so often and wish I could transport them back to Earth to keep sharing their wisdom and wonderful stories with me. Keep writing; I always look forward to and enjoy your posts. Happy New Year!

  2. Those sure look like Meyer Lemon's to me.........

    1. Busted! I used a regular lemon for the actually cleaning -- but forgot to take a photo. I had only Meyer lemons left and so I "staged" the photo -- hoping no one would notice. I should have known better!