I set myself a challenge - list 20 uses for a tea towel. It turned out not to be all that difficult at all. They are very useful things! Here's what I came up with. I'd love to hear your ideas too. Write them in the comments. What is the most unusual thing you have used a tea towel for?
Drying your dishes
Let's get the obvious out of the way - you use them to dry up after washing your dishes. Or to dry the plastic things when they come out of the dishwasher. If any one has any tips on getting the plastics to dry in the dishwasher, I'm all ears! Linen is especially absorbent and becomes more so over time, one of the reasons I believe linen tea towels are the best .
Extra drying space
How many times have I laid a tea towel down next to the draining board to provide more drying space for air drying? So many times. Especially in the days before we had a dishwasher. Now it tends to be when we have a party and there are all those glasses to wash.
Yes I have oven mitts but do you know what? Ninty percent of the time I prefer to use a folded tea towel. They are just there on the benchtop, right at hand.
Along the same lines, I use a folded tea towel under hot dishes on the bench. I don't know, it is just easier to grab the tea towel in a rush.
After I wipe my ceramic cooktop with a damp cloth, I dry it with a tea towel to remove the streaks. Also drying the sink with a tea towel removes water spots.
Over rising dough
I don't often make bread but I do make pizza dough frequently. I always cover the rising dough with a clean tea towel as instructed by my recipe. And in the winter time, when there isn't really a warm enough spot to leave the dough to rise, I put it in a very slightly warm oven but I dampen the tea towel to keep the dough from drying out.
Dry salad greens
Sometimes it is too much bother to get the salad spinner out or there just isn't one available. Small amounts of washed salad greens can be patted dry in a tea towel. I have even sent my husband outside with a bundled up tea towel full of lettuce to spin it! Just gotta make sure you hold that bundle tight or your salad will decorate the garden!
Dry slices of eggplant
Or other foods. You could use paper towel but I prefer a tea towel becuase, one, it reduces waste and two, it doesn't come apart on your food. I have also dried cooked pasta for pasta salad on a clean tea towel.
Squeezing liquid from grated vegetables
Vegetables such as zucchini and potato are particularly wet after being grated and often you need them to be dryer for your recipe such as zucchini fritters or potato rosti. Load them into a tea towel and squeeze away!
A tea towel can act as a very fine strainer too. Line a strainer suspended over a bowl with a tea towel, and place food such as yoghurt in it so you can separate the curds from the whey as called for in this Tzatziki Dip recipe.
Salad greens and fresh herbs will last longer in the vegetable crisper of the fridge when wraped in a lightly dampened tea towel.
I always wrap an Esky brick in a clean tea towel whenever an ice pack is called for because direct contact by the ice brick with the skin can be a bit much. Or just bundle up some ice cubes. That works too although it is a bit dripier that way.
Apron or bib
A tea towel tucked into a waistband acts as an apron or go King Henry VIII style and tuck it into your collar for a bib.
A pretty, clean tea towel makes a lovely food cover to deter flies or keep the warmth in,
Wrap a loaf
Keep a freshly baked loaf warm and fresh by wrapping it snuggly in a tea towel. This is also a lovely way to give a homebaked gingerbread loaf housewarming gift.
Line a tray or basket
A pretty or colourful tea towel also jazzes up a plain basket or tray for displaying and serving food.
Wrap a knife
I like to take a sharp knife with me on picnics and I wrap it in a tea towel secured with an elastic band for safety. I often find the tea towel is handy on the picnic too.
Noone likes a soggy nectarine or a brused apple for lunch but wrap it in a tea towel before throwing it in your bag and it will be fresh and lovely when you are ready to eat.
The Japanese are known for using fabric to wrap gifts in an artform known as Furoshiki. A tea towel can be used to give all kinds of gifts the furoshiki treatment. It is waste-free and adds another lovely element to the gift.
I am told that some tea towels are just too beautiful to use. I'm not a big believer in keeping things hidden away in a drawer never to be used but if you have a particuarly gorgeous tea towel, why not put it in a frame? Or just hang it over your oven door handle and love it, use it and enjoy it everyday.
So there you have it. 20 uses for a tea towel. And there are many more! Add your ideas in the comments below.