Silver and tomatoes

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Silver and tomatoes

Silver and tomatoes, just how dangerous is this soup?

A phase of eating tomato soup has prompted another entry in my “silver is tougher than we think” series (click here for previous posts on silver and salt, mayonnaise and 3 years in the dishwasher).  Silver and tomatoes apparently have confusing relationship.  

I’ve seen tomatoes listed on several ‘don’t’ lists and then was astonished when I turned up a video on how to clean silver with ketchup.

It is the acid in tomatoes that is of potential concern regarding your silver.  As with the other foods I’ve experimented with, none of the lists seem to say how long the silver and food need to remain in contact with before they start to do any damage.

The feedback I received after the salt post about readers having been worried about the salt spoon getting corroded in the salt during the course of dinner (!) really brought this home to me.

While these experiments have not been conducted with the utmost in scientific rigorousness, I think they do demonstrate that silver is tougher than we have led to believe.  It seems to make sense that silverware wouldn’t have been made, prized, and used for so long if it wilted at the first sign of trouble.

Silver and tomatoes

A Louis XV bouillon spoon was selected to be the guinea pig for this particular experiment.  I chose this particular type of spoon, because as you can see from the photos, it has a gold-washed bowl.  Gold-wash is decorative, but it also is meant to protect silver from tarnishing, as the gold is not reactive like the silver.  I figured I could test two theories with one spoon by submerging it completely in the soup.  So the gold-washed bowl and the plain sterling handle had the exact same contact with the soup. 

silver and tomatoes

Here is the test spoon BEFORE the submersion.

I left the spoon completely submerged in the soup for 3 days at room temperature on the counter. Again, 3 days was a random choice. If you are leaving soup spoons in soup for that long I’m not sure keeping the silver clean is your highest priority.  It seemed long enough to have an effect, not too long so I’d need to fumigate the house.

silver and tomatoes

The same spoon AFTER spending 3 days in tomato soup.

To keep the photo comparison as true to life as possible, the spoon was lined up on a piece of white paper that had placement marks made on it and I took the photo at the same time of day, standing in the same position both times. I tried to keep the conditions as equal as possible. To be honest if I hadn’t carefully labelled the jpeg file as soon as I took the photos I’m not sure I would know the difference.

silver and tomatoes

Trader Joe provided the soup.



For those of you who are wondering what the soup was, it’s Trader Joe’s Organic. I couldn’t quite bring myself to use homemade roasted tomato soup.

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4 thoughts on “Silver and tomatoes

  1. Karen RilstoneNo Gravatar

    Hi Nan,

    I love this series and your approach. Your are debunking several of my Mom’s myths/cautions. To give her her due, she washed her silver in the dishwasher with the exception of the knives with hollow-core handles. 😉


    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Hi Karen – Thanks for the thumbs up! I’m sure these cautions have a solid basis – long term exposure to salt does cause tremendous damage, but it takes quite a long time to happen! I think that not understanding the time frame makes people unduly nervous.

  2. Elisabeth BallNo Gravatar

    Nan, love this post! I agree if someone’s leaving flatware in food for days on end, he/she probably needs a maid or an antidepressant. In any case, message received: do not fear the tomato!

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