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Everyone loves a good kitchen hack, especially if it reuses or recycles something in a clever or surprising way. Is it wisdom of a family elder? All the better. Bonus points if it’s a little weird too. This one, from my mother, is the trifecta. She’s kind of a “helpful tip” — not to mention a bit of a wizard in the kitchen — and she’s been sharing this one for as long as I can remember: She’s the disposable-hotel-shower-cap-as-multifunctional-kitchen cover trick.
You may be thinking, “Do hotels still give out shower caps?” or maybe even, “What’s a shower cap?” (For those who don’t know, a shower cap is a plastic or fabric headwear with an elastic brim that is worn to keep hair dry while showering. They can also help extend the life of a style, combat frizz , prevent breakage, and more.)
The answer to the first question is, incredibly, yes. While many hotels are moving away from small individual bottles of soap, conditioner, and shower gel in an effort to be more sustainable, you can still find inexpensive single-use shower caps (often packaged in a small square box) in hotel rooms. This is confirmed by my mother, who recently returned from a long vacation during which she saw and promptly held a few.
“I’m just really happy when I find them, and I put them in my luggage right away,” she says, checking the name of Hilton and Viking Cruises as brands that provide shower caps free.
How to use hotel shower caps in the kitchen
In “researching” this story (aka calling my mother), I found that her use of hotel shower caps includes, but is not limited to, cake covers. Indeed, she routinely uses this “simple and elegant solution” (her words) as a bowl lid for everything from fruit salad prepped the night before for brunch to a plate of cookies that needs to travel.
“Everything you want to keep in the fridge. It preserves and protects,” she says, adding, “I’m not the only one who has this idea.” In fact, she recalls hair mother who used similar “appliances” in the kitchen in the 1940s and 1950s.
None of this is news to the folks at King Arthur Baking Company, where you can pick up a set of 10 food-safe “dish covers” for $14.95. Apparently, these things can help provide the perfect environment for dough to “rise” or rise—and King Arthur also recommends using the product for “covering leftovers and other refrigerated items in their serving bowls.”
King Arthur admits that his test bakers have been using shower caps for years and, like my mother, find this method superior to aluminum foil or plastic wrap “because the strong elastic edges grip tightly around the edges of the bowl, to keep the inside moist and more secure. “
The legit covers may be more legit, but my mom (first of all) is not concerned about the safety of using shower caps. “I am 82 and apparently have not been harmed by using hotel shower caps as food coverings.” Besides, “shell covers” just don’t have that something-for-nothing MacGyver flair, let alone a talking point. This should not be discounted as we enter a time of year filled with gatherings – a time that also happens to be prime pie season.