inbanner4.jpg

"Great ExpecTASTEtions" - The Victorian Kitchen

By Suzanne Skwarski, Plank Road Questers #236

The Victorian Age brought many innovations, inventions, gadgets, and streamlining to the culinary arts. Prior to the 1850's cooking was an arduous chore which involved cumbersome tools, inefficient cooking devices, and poorly processed food.

As the middle class became more prevalent, better quality utensils, baking methods, recipes, and cookware evolved so that the average home could effectively and economically feed its members. As water service, food preservation, and cooking appliances were developed in urban areas, people began to incorporate working kitchens into their homes. Prior to this, communal kitchens were used to feed families who labored to carry ample water and fuel to cook simple meals. During the Victorian Age, stoves and ovens developed capacity and temperature regulation so that food was cooked evenly and thoroughly.

The advent of the American Civil War promoted inventions and innovations in cooking due to the need to feed large amounts of troops and sustain their energy and health. Commercial canning of milk, vegetables, fruits, and meats became standard, as did the practice of refrigerated transport cars. These innovations soon were found in the average kitchen, and the cooking gadget industry boomed. The time saving implements were popular and spurred improvements in stoves, ovens, refrigeration and plumbing. The British Government began food regulatory laws and standards in 1880 and the United States followed the establishment of food industry regulations in 1900. The food industry became a large source of income and commerce as modernization continued. Restaurants, hotels, and food production grew as a result of the Victorian Kitchen Reformation.

Picture1

Carol Watkins (Maria Moore #432) displays her Victorian Kitchen Collection. Sources available upon request.