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Six Practical Tips I learnt from my Granny Madge.

Updated on March 10, 2013

Granny Madge loved flowers!

I learnt a lot about plants and flowers from Granny Madge!
I learnt a lot about plants and flowers from Granny Madge! | Source

My Granny Madge.and her Granny Tips!

At some time in our lives, we have all benefited from what I would call “Granny tips”, those invaluable practical recommendations that always seem to work! My Grandmother Magdalene (Madge) was no exception and throughout her life, was a fountain of interesting information, most of which she had in turn obtained from her mother, another Magdalene, whose life must have been a fascinating study.

Here are some of her tried and true lessons. What is so interesting is the fact that these ideas come from the 1800s and maybe before that, and are still in use!

Apples

Various Apples
Various Apples | Source

1.- Want to make a successful jam/jelly? Always add some apple!

I know for a fact this works, Granny Madge always made preserves, and added apple to everything! It did not change the taste, and certainly improved the texture, avoiding watery results for jams, jellies and the like. Her recommendation was to chop the apple into small pieces, including the chore and the pips, as they contain the most pectin.

In the old days, you could not get powdered pectin such as is now available. In fact I don’t think it’s all that easy to obtain in Chile even now and this is probably true in a lot of countries the world over.

Granny-lore always said that the apples should not be very ripe, and it was a frugal idea to use misshapen or damaged apples for the preserves. Another important aspect was the use of the whole apple, core and pips included.

Now how did these older generations learn all these concepts! Would it be through trial and error? I’m under the impression that these practices are hundreds of years old, but I cannot conceive just how they came about. Does any historian know about the results of any research of these lore that are handed down from generation to generation? It is a mystery to me, I must admit.

Potato with Sprouts

A potato showing several toxic sprouts
A potato showing several toxic sprouts | Source

2.- The eyes of the potatoes must always be cut out!

A very reasonable recommendation, as the eyes look really ugly and off putting!

It wasn't until I was teaching rural families living in the dry-lands about using sprouts to increase their intake of fresh greens, that I discovered that all the sprouts of the solanaceae or nightshade family, including the tomato, the potato, paprika, or aubergine (eggplant), are poisonous. I’m sure nobody mentioned this fact while my grandmother was still alive, so it is pretty safe to conclude that she didn't know. However that may be, it was still quite clear to our forbears, that the eyes of the potato, from which the sprouts emerge, had to be removed! Interesting!

A quick browse on the Internet tells me that potato sprouts are considered toxic due to a concentration of glycoalkaloids. Symptoms of this toxicity include headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and such. Even when cooked, the potato sprouts continue to maintain their poisonous levels, but the potato itself can be cut away, cooked and eaten safely.

Well, the potato is believed to have been cultivates for nearly 10.000 years, although it was only introduced in Europe when the Spaniards conquered the Inca Empire in the 16th century. Genetic studies have traced the origin of the potato to the high Andes regions of southern Peru and Bolivia. So when did everybody learn to remove the eyes of the potato? This must definitely have been a trial-and-error situation! I can just imagine the ancient hunter-gatherer families rolling around in pain after eating the sprouts! That would be a good basis for the lore to spread, I think!

Bowl with granulated sugar

Bowl with white sugar, abandoned by ants
Bowl with white sugar, abandoned by ants | Source

3.- Ants in the sugar?

Just put the open container in the sun!

This tip works like magic! You need to be careful that something else doesn't get into the sugar, maybe by covering with a net that still allows the ants to abandon the premises, but all you do is put the open container in the sun and leave it for a while. When you go back to check, the ants will have departed!

I can see this would be a problem in places with little or no sun, but the alternative solution will always be feasible: turn the sugar into liquid syrup. The ants will float on the surface and can be removed. If some get into your cup of tea, it doesn't really matter, they are not harmful if swallowed and are obviously dead. Anybody who never saw the ants in the sugar while still alive, and that includes finicky husbands and children, will think the little black speck is a piece of tea leaf.

Twelfth Century Headache

Headaches are common to every human tradition
Headaches are common to every human tradition | Source

A modern Headache

Present day Sufferer
Present day Sufferer | Source

4.- Do you have a very bad headache?

Lie down with a covering of raw potato slices!

This is another tip that works like magic and is not so well known. I have used it frequently, and it is really good.

You take a good sized potato, peel it and slice it into rounds that are not too thick, but that are relatively firm. Lie down and plaster your forehead with the slices, enough for one layer, and keep the spare for a little later. Place a large handkerchief over the slices to help keep them in place. Relax! After about 30 minutes to probably an hour, check the potato slices and your headache. You will probably find the slices all shriveled and dried out, and your pain much better. If necessary, repeat with the remaining slices. and that’s it!

This is certainly much healthier than taking aspirins or other painkillers, cheaper too. And the potato draws all the heat out of your head and feels very pleasant!

It is really extraordinary to see the way the potato slices shrivel up, as if subjected to intense heat!

A very swollen ankle!

Needs a bandage soaked in brine!
Needs a bandage soaked in brine! | Source

5.- A bandage soaked in strong brine for a sprained ankle or wrist.

This is certainly a tried and true solution for a puffy, swollen and very painful ankle!

I’m sure that this is a tip that many people are familiar with. My question would once again be: how did our forebears learn about these solutions? Where did the information come from?

When I was growing up, and falling off my bicycle and crashing into obstacles while roller-skating, and so on, this “medicine” was automatically put into use. Mind you, the best salt for the brine, is rough sea salt, the rougher the better. Refined salt does work, but it is not the thing!

Nowadays I find myself constantly recommending this solution, and I’m very often met with blank stares! But my doctor, who is relatively young, does recommend it still, in fact when my hand got swollen with arthritis, he told me to soak it in hot brine, and as usual, it worked!

Pretty eyes!

We don't want these eyes damaged!
We don't want these eyes damaged! | Source

Amber eyes!

Must keep them free from grits!
Must keep them free from grits! | Source

6.- A grit in your eye? The solution is easy!

This is another infallible Granny tip. Just do as follows:

  • Close both eyes – not so difficult, as that’s probably what you are doing anyway.
  • If the tears are running, just let them run, it helps!
  • Lightly place whichever index finger is most comfortable for you, left or right, over the other eye, so that you can feel the eyeball through the eyelid.
  • Start moving your finger in circles, always turning towards the inner corner of the good eye. You should feel the eyeball rolling slightly under the light pressure of your finger.
  • Keep at it with some patience!
  • After a short while, as you feel relief from the pain in the affected eye (which is still closed), you can try to open this eye and look for the grit.
  • The eyelash, or whatever the grit was, should appear at the inner corner of the affected eye, having travelled from wherever it was previously, and is then easily removed! Neat, huh!
  • If by chance the grit has not arrived at the inner corner, just go on circling, it will move!

This last Granny tip is one of my favorites, I have done it countless times, both for myself and for other people, and it is so much easier and less painful than trying to fish around in the eye itself with something to scrape the grit out!

Final Words.

I have always been filled with admiration by these Granny Tips! They are such a varied collection, and have proved so useful over time. I believe everybody should make a point of collecting the practical tips that have come down through various family members and which constitute such interesting family lore.

© 2012 joanveronica (Joan Robertson)

Beautiful blue hydrangea

Granni Madge used a lot of her own tips to produce lovely flowers like this one
Granni Madge used a lot of her own tips to produce lovely flowers like this one | Source

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    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      Thanks to Joan and Granny Madge for these extremely helpful hints. Old time tips are very valuable! I will pass these tips on to my family.

    • joanveronica profile image
      Author

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Mary, so happy you liked the tips, my Granny Madge would be happy too! She was a great one for trying to help other people in all things! That's why she was such a wonderful teacher! Thanks for the visit, the comment and the share!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Sunshine! Yes indeed, the slices of potato for a headache really work, I've used that tip all my life. The incredible thing is to see the results on the potato slices, they finish up all shrivelled and leathery. And the headache does get better, the relief is astonishing! You won't have many slices over, though, you will probably need to renew them at some moment, when you feel they are no longer cool on your forehead. Have a happy no headache day!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      The old country grannies where I grew up were very wise, and we all listened to what they said. I never knew potato sprouts were toxic..

      Good advice here. Voted UP, and share.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      A slice of a potato for a headache? If Grandma Madge recommends it, I will surely try it. I'll use the extra slices for mashed potatoes :)

    • joanveronica profile image
      Author

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Mary, so nice to "see" you again! And I was delighted with your comments, too! I'm a firm believer in Granny knowledge, not only from my Granny Madge, but it's very common to find jewels of information and tips among the older generations. Such a pity that nobody ever listens any more! We're all stuck to the TV screen or the computer screen! I hope you are getting on fine with your apprentice program! Have a nice day!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Jools, so happy to have you visit this Hub! This was one of my easier writing efforts on Hubpages, I so enjoyed writing it! Granny Madge was certainly a very special person, and the finest teacher I have ever known! I do owe her a lot. It's sad that I have lost all my family photos, she was a very striking woman! Still, I have my memories, and I try to write about them as vividly as possible. So thanks again, and have a good day!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      I'm so sorry I missed this hub. I really like Granmother Madge. First you shared her beautiful garden ideas and now this, I know I would've loved her!

      I do love the way you include so much history and information with her tips, proving she was right on without all the medical background and know how we now expect. So many of the "old ways" were right without having the long scientific explanations behind them.

      I also love your idea about writing a book with all this great information....definitely food for thought.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      What amazing facts! And all thanks to Nana Madge eh? I wish I had known her; I used to visit an old great (a couple of times) aunt called Jenny. She died in 1998 aged about 95 and she always had tales to tell of her youth which would fascinate me. When I bought my first flat, she gave me 4 old kitchen chairs which had once belonged to my gr-gr grandmother (her aunt). I still have them.

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Prasetio, happy to have you visit my Hub! I'm so glad you liked it, and thanks also for the comment! Have a good day!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. I learn many things from your grandmother. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • joanveronica profile image
      Author

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi RTalloni, I have enjoyed your visit and your comment! Thank you! I think you have written a lot of truth about these misconceptions. I hope these family traditions can be preserved, they are so valuable! Maybe a Hubber could collect them and write an ebook or something? I would be happy to contribute! Have a good day, and thanks again!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi PegCole, so happy to have you visit my Hub! I'm so glad you liked it and that it brought you memories! Thanks for the visit and the interesting comment. Have a good day!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for sharing these helpful tips from your Grandmother Madge! They make me smile for more than one reason. Sometimes the answer to a problem is far simpler than we think. :)

      Your post also highlights the fact that some scientists and hollywood (an interesting alliance to think through) have promoted the thought that ancient peoples were ignorant, unsophisticated, and unable to do anything worthwhile without our modern technology.

      An honest look at history proves the theory wrong and points out that we may have lost much of what they knew by depending on modern science/technology. All that is not to denigrate how valuable today's science and resulting technology are, only to say that people from the past might laugh at some of our solutions to problems. :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Have to love those old time remedies for everyday things. I had not heard of these solutions other than we used to gargle with salt water when we had a sore throat. When we had grit in the eye, we used a small shot glass or eye cup filled with lukewarm water and held it to the eye with the eye open. That washed out the grit. Potato eyes were always a bit frightening to me as a child. Now I know why! Poison.

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, your visit made my day! It was a trifle gloomy around here, not a happy perspective at all, but now I'm smiling again! I'm so glad you liked these tips, they are really so useful. So thanks for the visit, the comment and the share! Have a good day!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Joan,

      These tips are wonderful. Will definitely try that potato slice remedy for the next headache I get. The other tips sound interesting and useful as well. Up votes and will tweet and share with my followers. Thanks!

    • joanveronica profile image
      Author

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Au Fait! So nice to have you visit and I'm glad you liked this Hub! Granny tips can still be so useful and amazing, how did they know?

      Thanks so much for the visit, the comment and the share! Have a good day!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      What an interesting and useful hub! Will share Granny's wisdom with my followers!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi lesley, what a surprise your visit was! I'm so glad you read and liked this article, it was put on "idle" a couple of days ago, and I tweaked it a bit and got it back on the list, but the last comment was 3 months ago! It just shows how important the visits and the comments really are. I really didn't think it merited going idle, but there you are, those are the rules!

      So thanks again, and have a good day!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What wonderful 'granny tips'

      My granny too added apples to everything!

      I didn't realise potato sprouts were toxic - loved this hub thank you and voted up.

      Best wishes Lesley

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Mauricio, nice to hear from you! And thank you for the comment, the visit and the follow! Be happy!

    • profile image

      Mauricio 5 years ago

      Nice page and nice tips Joan. I will read your other posts. Regards. Mauricio.

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Chris, thanks for the visit, the comment and the share! I have decided it's really fun to share, having done quite a lot this week. Doesn't it give you a good feeling? Anyway, thanks for sharing my Hub!

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 5 years ago

      Huh, these are real interesting tips, especially the one about grit in the eye. You should submit these to LifeHacks or something. Up and shared!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Lots of great tips. Enjoyed reading your hub. Voted up and interesting.

    • joanveronica profile image
      Author

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Thanks for the visit and the comment! About the grit tip, yes, you move one eyeball gently round and round, and this stimulates the other eye in a "mirror" movement, that's why you always circle towards the nose, this makes the other eyeball go round towards the nose also, and the grit is dragged along towards the inner corner of the eye! Neat! And it works, I've done it for myself and also on young children at my schools.

      And thanks for the share! This is my new way of implementing all the talk about sharing that has been going round HubPages! I intend to return the social action of others, as we are not supposed to promote our own writing on Hubpages!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Wow, what great tips! I liked the one about the grit, although would kinda like to know more about how it works ... does moving one eye gently stimulate the other?

      Thank you for such a generous share on my teaching hub, you certainly are socially connected. I'm not on as many sites, but tweeted to about 17k followers, shared to my HP followers and Pinning to Pinterest ;-)

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Susana, thanks for the visit and the comment, I'm glad you liked the tips! How are the french fries doing?

    • profile image

      Susana 5 years ago

      Some of the tips are familiar to me, but others completely new. Thanks for these tips Joan!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, Uzma, thank you for the visit and the comment, I'm glad the tips will be useful for you! That was the idea for publishing the Hub.

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 5 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      this is very interesting hub and tips are amazing, although I knew about "ants in sugar" tip but rest are very useful. especially headache tip, I will try it sometime. thank you very much for sharing this valuable information. you are right, this is a mystery that how come our grannys knew so much things?really amazing.

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Jael, nice to hear from you! And thanks for the visit!

    • profile image

      Jael Cabrera Saavedra 5 years ago

      Those tips are so interesting!!!!!

      My grandmother taught me the same ... with incredible stories regarding potatoes ...

      Regards

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi Singhi, glad you like it! And it seems our grandmothers had similar ideas! When I write some more articles I will be sure to send you the link! Be happy!

    • profile image

      Singhi 5 years ago

      Hi Joan! Wow I'm glad you received lots of comments!

      Those tips are so interesting! I've tried using potatoes slices to relieve headaches and It has worked! My grandmother used to do it, and I learned that from her.

      I hope you could share more practical lessons with us!

      Regards

    • joanveronica profile image
      Author

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      As far as I remember, my Granny liked hard green apples. But fruit is so different nowadays, I guess you would just have to test it! As far as I can make out, all apples have the pectin.

    • ThriftyBoomer profile image

      ThriftyBoomer 5 years ago

      Thank you for the tip about adding apple to the jam. Does it matter which variety you use (juicier baking varieties or the hand-eating varieties)?

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi billybuc! I'm so happy to have provided you with some fresh information! You have made my day! It's nice to feel useful, I think this is at the heart of all dedicated teachers. Take care and have a good day yourself!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I not only have never done these but I have never heard of them, a fact I find remarkable considering how old I am. :) Great tips and you can be sure that I will be trying a couple of these in the future.

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Thanks for the visit! I'm so glad you liked the articles, and by all means try the headache tip, it has always worked for me. Have a good day.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      Hello Joanveronica, You do have such an interesting family, loved the adventures of your Great Grandfather and enjoyed your Granny Tips. Will also be trying the potato headache cure as I tend to have a few tension headaches and would love to give up the pills! Voted up and interesting, thank you again.

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, Ana Louis, thank you for the visit! I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub! I had a good time writing it, it was fun! And it is so true that these simple tips are often much better than a lot of technological advances!

    • Ana Louis profile image

      Ana Louis 5 years ago from Louisiana

      Thank for passing along these old treasures of helpful tips. It is amazing that so many of the old methods are still worthy of appreciation in today's world.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Wow this is so cool! I had so much to learn today. Voted useful and interesting. Reading your hub made me remember my grandma today and God bless her soul in Heaven. Thanks a lot joanveronica. Love and light. :)

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hey, thanks for the follow!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, I'm so glad you liked this Hub! Isn't it strange how these coincidences happen, but that makes it all that more interesting, right? Thanks for the fantastic comment!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      I enjoyed your comment so much! Life is full of little surprises, isn't it! I'm so glad you were able to see the significance of the events, that just makes it all that more interesting, right? Thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi joan, this is great! The funny thing is I always remove the eyes from potatoes! never knew why! well how about that! And funnily enough when I was on holiday in greece I sprained my ankle badly, wrapped it up and waded into the sea! after that my ankle felt so much better! natural instinct? this is great and bookmarked, thanks!

    • joanveronica profile image
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      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Oh, I have a lot of Hubbers to greet and thank!

      RNMSN, thank you for you visit! I'm glad you liked the list of Tips!

      Hi, teacher, glad to see you again! And yes, do use the potato remedy, it really works!

      Hi, girlonfire! Yes indeed, the potato remedy is really effective, simple and much healthier than aspirin!

      Hi, wrenfrost56, thank you for the Vote! Glad you enjoyed it, it was fun to write!

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      I love 'granny tips' too, I find they work much better then some of the more modern alternatives. A well written hub full of great advice, well done grandmother madge. Rated up :)

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      I love 'granny tips' too, I find they work much better then some of the more modern alternatives. A well written hub full of great advice, well done grandmother madge. Rated up :)

    • girlonfire profile image

      girlonfire 5 years ago

      I can't wait to try out the potato-headache tip. Well, I am not looking forward to getting a headache, but it will happen at some point, I know. At least, there is a new remedy to try! Thanks for the tips!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I will have to try the potato headache remedy next time. It is so simple and I always have a potato or two handy. Enjoyed your hub that is written with great interest and knowledge.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

      this is such a wonderful hub! I love hos\w you kept me enthralled thoughout!!and best of all, I have heard and used most of these Granny Tips!! they work great! thank you!!