Salt And Pepper Shakers: Reasons To Put Them Upside Down, And More

by Sid Wilson | Published On

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The oldest salt-based recipes in existence date back as early as 2,250 B.C. However, it wasn’t until the sixteenth century that salt-pepper shakers began to become more popular.

Known as salt-pepper pots or pepperpots, they were commonly used in English homes and would have been filled with salt (often called “purging salt”) and ground black pepper.

The term is also used to describe a person who pours out these said spices with a spoon. Ultimately, the oldest written recipes for what we know as salmagundi was made up of a stew of poultry, oysters, pine nuts, and capers.

Today, salt and pepper shakers are widely recognized as decorative tableware. Though many modern shakers are made from ceramic and plastic, some are made from glass.

Salt and pepper shakers are also used in cooking and baking, particularly in making casseroles, soups, souffles, sauces, and other creamy dishes.

How Do Salt And Pepper Shakers Work?


Salt and pepper shakers work by siphoning the contents of the container. The container is designed with a hole in the lid, which is created so that it would work as a funnel to let the salt or pepper pass through.

The structure of these containers is made mostly with aesthetics in mind. However, they also generally provide accents to the food that they are holding to enhance their presentation and appearance.

Salt shakers have a tube with holes on the side, and pepper shakers have holes on the top. A little lever mechanism in the middle of the salt or pepper container helps make it easy to dispense.

When you shake a salt or pepper shaker, small flakes fall out of the holes while larger grains go through them. This difference in size is what makes salt and pepper different from each other!

You’ll see traditional round table models with silver-colored metal lids, as well as more elaborate designs made from glass or porcelain that have floral prints and elegant colors.

Each type of salt and pepper shaker is unique in its way. For example, traditional table salt shakers have a wider opening than pepper shakers, making them useful for large grains of seasoning.

The only exception to this rule is the European country of Portugal, whose traditional table model is narrower.

A salt and pepper shaker is used to add seasoning to your food. It may come as one unit or two separate containers, for salt, and pepper.

Why Do Chefs Not Use Salt Shakers?

The first issue that needs addressing when one needs to talk about salt and pepper shakers is why chefs do not use them in their cooking.

Once the inner workings of these containers are introduced, the reason why some chefs may resort to other methods comes into focus.

It is easy for a chef to recognize when they need salt and pepper by using their eyes. However, they are not as good at determining whether their food requires seasoning by taste or smell.

One can get the right texture and right taste just by touching their food with their hands or even an open palm, but it takes a certain amount of testing before one can know if something needs any additional flavoring.

Typically, the main reason why chefs do not use salt and pepper shakers is that they prefer to control their seasoning themselves.

Some chefs have a culinary sense that is so sharp that they can accurately taste food without using any instruments.

If you are getting ready to add some seasoning to your food, what is the first thing you do? You measure out a small amount of it and put it in your hands.

Then you smell it! Of course, this only works for certain spices.

Salt and pepper are usually hard for the human nose to detect but tasting salt or pepper does allow you to know if your dish needs a little more of one or the other.

Another reason why chefs do not use salt and pepper shakers is that they want to make sure they have the right texture.

The texture of a salt or pepper shaker is in its granulated form, so it will help you determine if you are doing anything wrong with your food.

There is also some debate about whether or not chefs prefer their seasoned food to be saucy or not.

Sauciness can sometimes result from the improper placement of salt in a dish, but it can also result from the amount of seasoning that has been added.

One should have a good understanding of how much seasoning goes into their food as well as how to fold it before seasoning it.

A chef needs to be able to get the right amount of seasoning with just a little pinch or by knowing how much salt is involved. The same goes for pepper.

Salt and pepper shakers have a lot of uses that go beyond the kitchen. They can brighten up your table, and you can use them as containers for other spices, such as cinnamon.

Does Salt Go In 2 Holes Or A 3-Hole Shaker?

The first thing that you need to understand is there are 2 types of salt shakers. The first one is regular size 4 holes and the second one is large size 8 holes.

The second thing that you need for the question: does the salt go in 2 holes or 3-hole shaker? It goes in two holes.

The reason why it’s in 2 holes is that if you placed the salt into 4 holes then it will not fall, it will just stay there and you don’t know what to do with it. That’s why it goes in 2 holes.

The last thing you need to remember is that if you want to add 2 pieces of salt, then you must first push them into 4 holes.

After that, then you can put them into 2 holes. Most table salt is sold in the 2-hole shaker and only finer grades of salt and sea salt come in the 3-hole shaker.

The 3-hole shaker has a basic screen inside, which helps keep out impurities, thus producing a finer texture.

How Long Do Salt And Pepper Last In Shakers?

As all salt and pepper shakers are made of metal, they are all susceptible to corrosion.

Those that are made entirely of zinc can be preserved longer than those that have enamel coatings or other finishes on them, but there is no way to predict how long salt or pepper will remain potent inside a container.

Why Do People Put Salt And Pepper Shakers Upside down?

When people put salt and pepper shakers upside down, it is usually because they think that the salt and pepper will automatically come out faster. However, this is not always true.

The original reason for this tradition is that each time a person would use their salt and pepper shakers, the first time they were turned upside down would be when a quick burst of seasoning would come out to season their food.

Then by flipping them onto the next side, twice as much seasoning would come out to season their food twice as well. This is why many people do it today.

Should You Wash Salt And Pepper Shakers Before Use?

One should wash the salt and pepper shakers because when you use them for the first time and if they are not washed it would be disgusting.

The salt and pepper shakers that you put on your table are for decoration, so no one would want to see your dirty shakers.

To wash them just pour some water into them so that the inside of it is also clean.

Why Do You Put Rice In A Salt Shaker?

Many people put rice inside a salt shaker to make the seasoning that they normally put into their plate or dish.

If you are cooking rice and you want to make some starch, then when you cook it, sometimes it can stick to your dish.

Remove this sticky part by putting a few grains of rice into the salt and pepper shaker. Then they can take away that sticky food until all of it is gone or finished.

How Do I Know If My Salt And Pepper Shakers Are Valuable?

Before you buy salt and pepper shakers, you should know how much their price of them is. After that, you can go and make a decision.

You should look carefully at how many holes the salt or pepper shaker has. If it has only one hole then it may not be worth much money.

If there are two holes for each then it will be better because they can take very little flour/salt in them to ensure that their food does not stick to their plate or dish again.

This could save them a lot of money. If you have one shaker and the other one is missing, sometimes the missing ones are more valuable because people can collect them.

You should also look at the condition of the shakers. If they are not in good condition (chipped and broken) then no one will want to buy them or collect them anymore.


Salt and pepper shakers are useful in many different ways. They help season food when it is cooking, they add beauty to a table setting, and they can act as expensive collectibles.

So you will want to take proper care of your salt and pepper shakers to make sure that they last you many years! Hopefully, the information above has given you some understanding of how to care for your shakers.

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Sid Wilson

Being a father, a golf lover, and an engineer by profession are the things that define Sid Wilson. He spends most of his time in his garage building and experimenting with stuff. Unscrewing things and then screwing them up is his favorite hobby. Doing these things in his garage has made him what, he is today.

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