For most of us there are a few things in the kitchen that we simply can’t imagine living without. Fridges, washing machines, driers and kettles have all become part of our essential day-to-day routines.
Many of today’s kitchen appliances are fairly recent inventions, however, so how did people manage before? Read on to discover the historic alternatives to our current kitchen gadgets…
One kitchen appliance that most of us can’t imagine living without is a fridge. Way back when humans first started preserving food, underground caves and flowing water were used to keep it cold. Before the refrigerator was invented in the 18th century, pantries and cellars did the job, lined with natural ice when possible. Thankfully we no longer need to wander down to the river to get our pint of milk in the morning – electric refrigerators came into widespread use in the 1920s.
Tea and Toast
Breakfast wouldn’t be the same without a cup of coffee and some toast for many of us, but what did people do before kettles and toasters? Implements for toasting were developed in the 1800s and included long forks and wire frames that could be held over a fire. Electric toasters were developed in the early twentieth century and went through many incarnations before the modern version that we know and love arrived. Water was likewise boiled in pots over the fire, and the electric kettle only arrived on our worktops in 1922.
Washing and Drying
Throughout history there have been a number of methods for washing clothes. The simplest method was to swirl fabrics around in running rivers or streams, pummeling them with sticks or clubs to get the dirt out. Later washboards – wooden slabs with ridges on them – were used. Clothes were dragged over the washboard repeatedly to get them clean. The first upgrade from air drying was the mangle, which came into use in the 1840s. This device worked by slotting the fabric between two rollers which would squeeze out the water.
It’s hard to imagine replacing our cookers, ovens and microwaves with a single fire, or our fridge with an underground pantry. As more and more kitchen appliances come on to the market, might there soon be other things we don’t think we can live without?