If you asked me what I thought about coffee filters yesterday, I would have said they were a mostly wasteful, sometimes-convenient, and 100% avoidable purchase. My editor challenged me to be convinced otherwise, so I have gone down the internet rabbit hole on coffee filters. In the past few hours, I have read a lot of supposedly brilliant ways to use coffee filters and determined that most of them were completely ridiculous.
I maintain that coffee filters should NOT be used to do the following:
- Filter wine. (If your wine has sediment, it’s probably old and pretty expensive and you should get a decanter or an actual filter. Or just sip carefully!)
- Steeping loose-leaf tea. (Again, if you’re using loose-leaf tea, you’re probably kind of serious about your tea. Get yourself an infuser!)
- Portioning snacks. (Why not use a measuring cup or just grab a handful? If you’re serving popcorn for movie night, you own bowls for a reason.)
- Catching Popsicle drips. (Popsicles drip; it is part of summer. Eat them outside and hose off in the sprinkler afterward.)
I will admit, however, there were a few ideas out there that made me rethink my stance. Now, I’m not saying you should go out and buy coffee filters. If you already have them in your house, well, there are a few clever ways to put them to use that don’t involve coffee at all.
1. Use coffee filters to prevent microwave splatter.
I always struggle with whether or not to cover my food in the microwave. Using a paper towel feels like a waste, but when I don’t use one and I get red sauce all over my microwave, I instantly regret my decision. A coffee filter actually seems like a pretty smart compromise: It seems less wasteful than a paper towel (thinner, usually made from recycled paper), but will keep your food from getting everywhere.
2. Use coffee filters to line plant pots.
I am a new plant mom to a small pepper plant. When I remember to take care of it, I am very good at it! Still, I will take any help keeping it alive that I can get, even if it includes a coffee filter. The logic behind lining plant pots with a coffee filter is that it allows water, but not dirt, to flow through. This does a few things: It gives your plant maximum access to soil, while also preventing root rot. And when it comes time to transport your plant to a bigger pot, it means less mess.
3. Use coffee filters instead of cheesecloth.
Do you have cheesecloth in your kitchen? I don’t — and honestly, I don’t have enough cooking projects that call for cheesecloth that I feel like I should go out and buy some. Enter: coffee filters! They’re great for making cheese, tofu, or ghee, and for thickening yogurt.
Do you have any other truly smart uses for coffee filters aside from, you know, brewing coffee?
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