Mighty milk to the rescue with china, peas

MILK MAID: Use milk to fix cracks in Royal Albert china and problems with split-pea soup
MILK MAID: Use milk to fix cracks in Royal Albert china and problems with split-pea soup

I HAVE a Royal Albert tea set and a saucer has developed a crack. A friend once told me that these cracks could be repaired by placing the item in milk and boiling it. Do you have any information about this? – UD, Port Elizabeth.

Yes, it can certainly be done, and I have used the procedure myself. The method is to place the damaged china in a pot of milk and simmer for at least an hour. The milk fills the crack and coagulates, making a seal.

Although this sounds an unlikely repair method, it works very well. Obviously one should treat the repaired piece carefully. It is not going to be robust.

I might add that the boiled milk became a deliciously creamy beige and I used every drop of it!

I made a lovely thick pot of split-pea soup and asked my daughter to watch it. Unfortunately she didn’t hear me! I smelt burning and when I got to kitchen she had already stirred the pot. I immediately poured it into another pot but the burn taste is still there. What can I do? – LR, Port Elizabeth.

Split-pea soup has an enormous potential to burn, so don’t be too hard on your daughter. As the peas swell and rise to the top, there is often insufficient water. According to a friend who spent most of her life as a doctor’s wife in Upington, and learnt to do all things culinary, the answer is to add milk. In her community this was “an old trick”.

We have a silver-plated cutlery set that was washed in a dishwasher by mistake. We don’t use it that regularly and have now noticed that it has turned a browny gold colour. Could you please tell us what the best method is to get the set back to silver in colour? We would also like to know how best to store it as we are moving to Summerstrand, where corrosion and tarnishing is apparently a problem. – SF, Port Elizabeth.

I’m afraid the discolouring you want to remove, is not something on top, but the “underneath” coming through. Silver is a soft, white metal that, in the plating process, is combined with a harder metal, such as copper and nickel. This is polished to a mirror-like finish before being given the silver coating. Harsh abrasives, polishes and high, prolonged heat can wear away the plating.

I suggest you take the cutlery to Claire at Decorative Plating in North End, who can confirm my fears – or otherwise. I have spoken to her about your problem.

Restoration will involve stripping the remaining silver, polishing the base metal and re-plating.

Silver that is used occasionally, should be kept separately, in a felt-lined drawer if possible.

If it is to be stored, wrap the pieces separately in cotton cloth or soft yellow dusters.

I have a pair of leather shoes. The front colours are gold and gun-metal shades but the sides and back (gun metal) are wearing off. I have contacted the shoe hospital Talati’s and repair shop Navsaria, but neither can help me. Is there a spray for leather? – LC, Port Elizabeth.

I went back to the repair shops you mentioned, to find out why they couldn’t help, and I think the problem arose because the imported shoe dyes are now available only in the basic colours of brown, black, red and white.

However, I found Nareen at Navsaria and Jay at Talati’s most helpful. There are other ways they can make your shoes look better. Nareen suggested buffing and polishing the damaged areas, and Jay – who says his company has been in Port Elizabeth for 100 years – was full of good ideas.

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