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19 Clever Uses for a Turkey Baster

Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving prep staple, but turkey basters can also make a number of chores, from changing plant water to touching up a paint job, much easier.

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Using baster on turkey coming out of the ovenSUZANNA BUNCH/SHUTTERSTOCK

It’s not just for turkeys anymore

Is your turkey baster’s job done as soon as Thanksgiving is over? If so, you’re missing out on some other not-exactly-intended, but no-less-useful ways you can use this kitchen gadget. Keep in mind that you should not use your cooking baster for cleaning or chemical-related tasks, so it’s helpful to have a second turkey baster to take full advantage of these uses. Here’s where you can get one. Then you’ll be ready to try out these fun—and useful!—ways you never thought to use it. And if Thanksgiving cooking is the main event, check out these handy Thanksgiving hosting tips.

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bolognese sauce - hot juicy ground beef stewed with tomato sauce, spices, basil, finely chopped vegetables and celery in skillet on wooden tableFROM MY POINT OF VIEW/SHUTTERSTOCK

Degrease meat

Taco night? After cooking meat (say, ground beef), use a turkey baster to remove the extra grease at the bottom of the pan. Faster than ladling with a spoon, this trick lowers the likelihood of searing grease spills. These are our favorite taco recipes you’ll want to eat all week.

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Plants in metal cans in front of a windowIMNOOM/SHUTTERSTOCK

Change plant water

Remove dirty water without disturbing your plants. Use a turkey baster to absorb the old water and replace with fresh water, whether your greens are in a vase or potted plant. This trick is especially handy for high-hanging plants. You can also use a turkey baster to water a Christmas tree and to add small, precise amounts of water to cups containing seedlings or germinating seeds. Take a look at these tips for caring for houseplants in the winter.

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Pet bunny taking a drink from its water bowlAFRICA STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Place water in your pet’s bowl

Do you have a pet in a cage, like a bunny or a hamster, that drinks water from a bowl and not from a bottle? And are you getting tired of chasing said bunny, hamster, or other caged pet around the house whenever you change its water? Use a turkey baster to fill the water dish. You can usually fit the baster between the slats without having to open the cage. Shopping for your furry friend? Check out these pet products on Amazon with nearly perfect reviews.

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Cracked eggs with yolks in a bowlTHISISLOVE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Separate eggs

To cleanly divide egg yolks from egg whites, unscrew the bulb of the turkey baster. Squeeze it to slurp the egg yolk away from the whites. Squeeze again to release into a separate bowl. These recipes will let you eat eggs all day long.

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Save wine

Can’t find a wine stopper? To preserve an open bottle of wine, drop the thin end of a turkey baster into the bottleneck. Have you bought any of these kitchen gadgets that our Test Kitchen loves?

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Enjoy your breakfast or coffee break with coffee maker and boiler machineVENUS ANGEL/SHUTTERSTOCK

Remove excess water from coffeemaker

The perfect cup of coffee is determined by using the proper balance of water and ground coffee in your automatic coffeemaker. If you pour in too much water, however, you typically have to add more coffee or suffer through a weak pot. But there’s another, often overlooked option: Simply use your kitchen baster to remove the excess water to bring it in at just the right level.

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Entertain children

For a tech-free way to keep young kids busy, hand them Pom-Poms and a turkey baster. Watch them race the balls across the floor by squeezing puffs of air out of the basters. It’s inexpensive entertainment for you and them alike. Or, spend the day baking with your kids.

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Touch up a paint job

For small paint sprucing jobs, use a turkey baster to transfer a small amount of paint from the pail to a disposable cup. You’ll have the exact portion you need and avoid drips. Now, are you starting to see why a turkey baster is one of the kitchen gadgets you’ll wish you had years ago?

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Change brake fluid

If you do this job yourself, you know the first step is removing the old, dirty fluid from the master cylinder reservoir. Get it done quickly with an inexpensive turkey baster. (We recommend keeping this particular baster in the garage, not the kitchen.)

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Wind yarn

To wind a pull ball of yarn, remove the bulb from a turkey baster. Thread yarn through the baster, and secure to the thin end of the baster with a piece of tape. Wrap the yarn horizontally around the wide end of the baster. After there is about an inch of wrapped yarn, begin winding diagonally to create a crisscross pattern. Continue until a ball is formed. Tuck the end of the yarn into the ball. Remove tape from the other end. Slide the ball off the baster.

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Betta fish in a tiny cupSELENIT/SHUTTERSTOCK

Feed fish

Use an extra turkey baster to directly feed pet fish that struggle to compete for their share of food. The tool is also handy for feeding invertebrates such as clams, corals, and anemones. Have a gunky tank? Use the baster to remove small bugs that fall into the aquarium or unwanted algae. Rather stick to turkey basting? Learn some handy tips for buying the perfect bird this Thanksgiving.

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Young man painting a canvasDMYTRO ZINKEVYCH/SHUTTERSTOCK

Create artwork

Fill turkey basters with paint for creative crafts with tots. Create colorful paper plates or cover blank frames with splats of paint. For an adult project, use a baster to transfer paint into a clear glass bottle. Roll the bottle until the paint is evenly distributed. Dry upside down. Use the painted bottles as bright vases.

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Fluffy Bunny PancakesTaste of Home

Add pizzazz to pancakes

Squeeze some pancake batter into a turkey baster and try your hand at some more exciting shapes! True, it may not instantly make you a pancake artiste, but it’ll certainly be a fun thing to try! Despite their many uses, turkey basters are pretty ordinary, but find out some kitchen gadgets you won’t believe exist.

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Different condiments in little containersMARAZE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Control condiments

Maybe you’re very particular about the amount of salad dressing or ketchup that goes on your food. Or you’re trying to control how much chocolate syrup your kiddos (or you!) put on ice cream or chocolate milk. Or maybe you just wish adding garnish and condiments to thinks wasn’t so dang messy! A turkey baster is an easy solution that allows for controlled distribution of anything with a liquid-y enough texture for a baster.

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Make boozy fruit

If you’re looking for a classy way to make fruit more fun (and are of legal drinking age, of course), try this literal party trick. Cut the fruit in half and poke mini holes in it using the turkey baster. Then, also with the turkey baster, they fill the holes with vodka and leave the fruit in the fridge for several hours, after which the vodka has infused the fruit. Check out some more cool secret uses for ordinary kitchen gadgets.

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Cranberry gingerbread muffinsTaste of Home

Fill muffin tins

To add an equal amount of batter to each muffin cup (without a mess!) swap a spoon for a turkey baster. Turkey basters also come in handy for drawing creative pancake shapes on the griddle.

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Chef or baker, dressed in black apron, preparing a portion of fresh dough in rural bakery, kneading the pastry surrounded by rustic organic loaf of bread.UFABIZPHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Inject pastries

Load a baster with your favorite jelly, custard or pudding mix. Inject into homemade pastries for delicious, gooey treats. While putting together those pastries, watch out for these common baking mistakes!

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Cure a musty-smelling air conditioner

If you detect a musty odor blowing out of the vents of your room air-conditioner, chances are it’s caused by a clogged drain hole. First, unscrew the front of the unit and locate the drain hole. It’s usually located under the barrier between the evaporator and compressor or underneath the evaporator. Use a bent wire hanger to clear away any obstacles in the hole or use a turkey baster to flush it clean. You may also need to use the baster to remove any water that may be pooling up at the bottom of the unit to gain access to the drain.

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Fridge among cabinetsGARY YIM/SHUTTERSTOCK

Fix a leaky refrigerator

Is water leaking inside your refrigerator? The most likely cause is a blocked drain tube. This plastic tube runs from a drain hole in the back of the freezer compartment along the back of your fridge and drains into an evaporation pan underneath. Try forcing hot water through the drain hole in the freezer with a turkey baster. If you can’t access the drain hole, try disconnecting the tube on the back to blow water through it. After clearing the tube, pour a teaspoon of ammonia or bleach into the drain hole to prevent a recurrence of algae spores, the probable culprit. Now that you know some handy uses for a turkey baster, find out 25 more kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest