Salt & Pepper Shakers

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2010 • all rights reserved

Image of Tupperware salt & pepper shakersOn a boat, it’s imperative to have a salt shaker with an airtight lid.  Without it, there’s no chance that you’ll actually be able to shake salt out of it — the salt picks up moisture and will just clump and clog the holes.

For years, both cruising and camping, we’d used the Rubbermaid salt and pepper shakers with great results.

So I was really disappointed when a friend told me that Rubbermaid recently changed their salt shaker design and that the new design just didn’t work.  While we were cruising, over half the boats had the same set we did; the others had Tupperware shakers.

Image of bad Rubbermaid shakerRubbermaid’s new design (shown at right with the big red circle and slash) doesn’t form a good seal and thus I can’t recommend it.  Not only does it let moisture in, but friends have had problems with it flipping open if the shaker tips over.  Don’t buy it!

Instead, I’m now recommending the Tupperware salt and pepper shakers.  They come in a couple of different sizes and several different colors, one of which is shown at the top of this article. Yes, they’re a little more expensive than the Rubbermaid ones — but they actually do the job!

The one complaint that people have with the Tupperware shakers (and we had to some extent with our old-style Rubbermaid shakers, too) is that the holes are a little small for the salt or pepper to shake freely.  I simply used a paper clip (you could also use a needle) and enlarged each hole slightly.

Also, be sure to put a few grains of rice in the salt shaker.  This will absorb any humidity that does get in when you’re using the shaker, and will keep the salt flowing freely.  I threw the old rice out every time I refilled the shaker, as it can only absorb so much moisture.  Another reader left a comment on the Adding Flavor to Meat article that they use pinto beans instead of rice and that it also works well — and the beans don’t get caught in the holes.

If you get salt in a larger container as is typical in the US and larger cities elsewhere, be sure that the “big container” that you fill the shaker from is tightly sealed in a freezer Ziploc with some rice.

In some places, we could only buy “bulk” salt in little baggies — I always transferred it to a more airtight container — either double freezer Ziplocs or a Lock & Lock or Lock-It box — always with some rice, too!

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  1. Popcorn works just as well as rice (and presumably beans) and also doesn’t plug holes. Interestingly, I’ve lived aboard for nearly a decade, cruising up and down the West Coast including Alaska which is VERY damp in the summer, and I’ve had no problem with my old Trader Joe’s Sea Salt shaker. It has a screw down lid and no gasket of any kind. It certainly not meant to be an airtight salt container. I just keep refilling it, expecting it to cake, but I guess the popcorn really does help (and I’ve only refreshed it a couple of times).

  2. Waterwoman says:

    I wonder about the beans in a salt shaker. I used beans as an “anchor” for hatch screens our first summer in Mexico (instead of weights or chain). We put the boat to bed for the summer season, removed all canvas, put the hatch screens away, and when we returned, the beans had hatched critters that thankfully died and didn’t cause any damage. I was surprised I didn’t know any better, and learned a lesson about using beans (at least for that purpose).

    • I’m guessing that the bugs got into the beans where they were put away. I’d think that if the beans were in the sealed salt shaker, no bugs would get to them. But there is never a guarantee . . .


  3. Anyone know of someone who sales tupperware?

  4. I still use the set I bought in the 70s. They are much smaller but work great. Tupperware is garenteed

  5. Lisa Rio on Facebook says:

    Before we took off cruising I bought 12 or so of these Tupperware salt/pepper shakers off of EBay. I put all different kinds of spices in them and have had great luck for a year now…

  6. I have used the Tupperware ones for years at our northern Michigan summer house and they work well. I highly recommend them.

  7. Sea King says:

    I have been using the McCormick “Grinders” for salt and pepper for years… They always work. Expensive in comparison to bulk, I know, but I can’t leave it all to my Grandson!
    Now if I could just refill the empty grinders with garlic powder, etc., etc,, life would be a “Tire Swing”!

    • Sea King. I found a site that says all you have to do to open the grinders is microwave a bowl of water for 2 minutes. Put the black plastic rim in the water for a couple minutes and then it should pry off easily. McCormick also sells a Garlic Sea Salt grinder among others.

  8. Expensive, but so worth it to me.

  9. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and most everyone just used “normal” salt shakers. The trick is to use enough rice in them…a “few grains” isn’t really enough. I’ve always used 1/4-1/3 of the shaker full of rice to work well. We seldom dumped the rice out. This worked on the water quite well. Have a great day!

  10. I like to “pinch & sprinkle” salt rather than putting it in a shaker or grinder. To use rice without getting individual grains in each pinch, I purchased the small muslin bags sold for bouquet garni, filled one with rice, and plopped it into the plastic airtight canister I use for salt storage. It works perfectly! The salt stays dry, and I can add pinches or measuring spoonfuls without rice grains ending up in the food.

  11. Soupy Sayles says:

    In outdoor stores that sell camping equipment, they sold salt & pepper “caps”, with a lid on them. You then took an old used plastic film canister, filled with salt & put these caps on. I’ve went a year without cake ups. No beans, no rice. They work the best I’ve ever found.

  12. Jim Allen says:

    I have used the salt grinders all summer on the boat for the last three seasons. I take it home and use during the winter. NEVER had any problem with the salt clumping AND you don’t have to hassle with rice, etc. One grinder lasts me about year.

  13. Rice helps a bit.

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