Friday 2 July 2010

Reader's Wife's Big Jugs

Pay attention, the following could save your life.

A most useful object in the kitchen is the glass jug, made of borosilicate glass to withstand extremely high or low temperatures. Tough, easy to clean, hygienic in its impervious surface, elegant in its easy-to-handle functional design, it is the angelic expression of industrial magic.

But it's not immortal. The rim of the glass, particularly the pouring lip of the jug, can eventually develop cracks. If that happens shards of glass break off. Invisible glass knives.

This eventually happened one day in my gravy, very nearly my grave-y

I made the gravy as normal and poured it in to the glass jug, giving it a whack with a spoon. The jug was very old by then - a wedding present IIRC, those were the days lass - and must have developed tiny fractures which finally joined up and cracked slivers off the pouring lip in to the meat juices.

At the table I poured on the gravy and tucked in.

As the sliver went in to my tongue I first thought "bone?" and then looked down at my dinner to suddenly recognize glittering gravel poking up as the gravy-pool subsided. I opened my mouth and let the gravel tip out. With a flash of self-preservation I realized that it was important not to spit, not to move in any way which would result in the glass going further in to my tongue. I was able to pull out the main spike, a wicked flechette, and blood began to ooze out and drip on to the tablecloth.

Mr Raft must have also had a psychic experience because instead of jumping up or shouting, he moved very smoothly, realizing that I wasn't in a position to explain. Despite the horrific looks of it, once the main culprit was out, the rest was a matter of very carefully rinsing so that no other splinters of glass were left in my mouth and none got down my throat.

The moral of the story is: always run a finger round the rim on glass jugs, checking for un-evenness or broken slivers, hold it up to the light to give it a brief visual inspection. If it is in the least bit damaged, buy a new jug because there may be microscopic invisible stresses in the material.

It is also fair to point out that this is the only time such a materials failure has ever happened in all the years I've been using glass jugs, and it might not have happened at all if I'd been more careful about using wooden spoons instead of carelessly batting around with metal ones.

Wooden spoons and big jugs, that's what you want.


Quiet_Man said...

A fair warning, it's not happened to me, though my good lady has had a few near misses where she has noticed a crack or sliver missing. It's also a title likely to get a great deal of hits from a certain type of man (certainly not a gentleman) ;-)

Woman on a Raft said...

Indeed, Mr Man, I've had my lawyers check over the article - that's why there is careful part about the failure being rare and possibly related to user practices - as I didn't want the brand-holder to complain. It is an excellent product, a wonder of the modern age.

I use them for cake mixes. When ever I am baking, my friend Samantha likes to come over to lick my jugs.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I fell for that one. Shame on me.

JuliaM said...

Ow. Ow, ow, OW!

A timely warning indeed, not that this is gravy weather (though I'm sure there are those who would have it on salad if they could).

Submariner said...

I have seen something very similar: the ledge of a rim of a toughened glass job (not a Pyrex one) slivering off into the contents, which in my case were custard. In my case it was a French make that I bought from a trendy up-market cookware place. I think the rims most likely to fail are ones with squarish cross-sections, especially if the cook tends to stir the contents with a metal spoon repeatedly bearing on the edge of the rim. A well rounded rim is much less vulnerable, and using a wooden spoon is also a good idea.

It is very dangerous when it happens especially with something that hides the shards (my custard certainly did).

Genuine Pyrex jugs are the best make of heatproof glass cookware I have found and are v tough, but even they will fail eventually if washed in the dishwasher. They will eventually start to pit from the caustic dishwasher detergent, and that eventually leads to cracks. Best to hand-wash them, then they go on forever.

TheFatBigot said...

I've long been a great fan of Pyrex and have never before heard of either Pyrex or similar-type jugs splintering. Oh well, I'll add it to the long list of things to worry about.

As a youngster I did once render one into shards by the addition of boiling water, only to find I'd picked up an ordinary glass water jug rather than the Pyrex jug. Since I started drinking heavily no such error has been made.