View ExhibitView Exhibithearth to cookstove

hearth to cookstove

For centuries, cooks worked over open fires. Cooking techniques varied little, and equipment evolved slowly. But, by the 1800s, new technologies and mass-produced tools were transforming kitchens. The portable cast-iron cookstove replaced the fireplace as the heart of the home in the 1830s, making some cooking quicker and easier, but also adding complexity. Although early stoves didn't reach waist height, cooks could stand, instead of squatting or sitting as the hearth had required. Cookware changed to fit the new manner of work.

This display features tools used in the 1800s for basic tasks from heating water to tending a fire. Some tools, like the egg poacher and the waffle irons, may share the forms of today's utensils, but a cast-iron coffee roaster and a latched spice safe suggest the unfamiliar work and worries of cooks long ago.

Warm up your curiosity to imagine the flavors and fragrances of the corn bread and sweet wafers such tools prepared.