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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Colonial Kitchen

by Tamera Lynn Kraft


I googled Colonial kitchens to research this article, and when I saw the results, I laughed. An HGTV or home decor site's colonial kitchen is nothing like what the well stocked kitchen of the 1700s looked like.There were no stoves, and the kitchens were smaller than many apartment size kitchens today.

The fireplace was the central part of the colonial kitchen. Sometimes they would be as wide as ten feet and cover an entire wall. The larger fireplaces would have a bench built into them. In the late 1700s, when wood became scarce in populated areas, the fireplaces became smaller, but they were still a central part of the colonial home. Many of these fireplaces had cast iron back to protect them from the heat. Sometimes there would be many small fires instead of one large fire to regulate the heat of each dish being cooked.

Originally all cooking was done over the open fire, but eventually bee shaped brick or stone ovens with domed roofs were built into the fireplace to do baking. Some fireplaces had small opening beneath the ovens that served as warming ovens. A fire would be started in the oven, then as it died down, the ashes would be swept out and the food would be placed in the oven.

Some homes had spits to skewer meat on. A hand crank would turn the spit. Most homes had an iron crane over the fireplace to hang pots and kettles on. Sometimes wooden lugs made out of green wood would be used instead. Pots hung on the cranes with pot hooks, trammels, or chains with large links. The crane would swing from side to side, and the pot could be hung on various spots on the crane.

Fires were never allowed to go out. At nights, a curfew made of brass or copper would be placed over the embers. In the morning, wood would be laid on the embers, and they would be poked with fireplace forks and shovels. A blow tube would be used as a bellow to fan the flame.

The kitchen usually had a variety of pots, pans, kettles, and skillets. Most homes had tin plates and wooden utensils that they shared at meal time. The wooden table in the center of the room would serve as the only seating area other than the floor.

Very few colonial homes had parlor. Some consisted of on room which was the kitchen. Even if a colonial home had bedrooms, the family would spend most of their time in the kitchen. When someone was sick, a bed or mattress in the kitchen served as a sick bed where the sick person could stay warm close to the fire and the rest of the family could see to his needs. The kitchen was the center of colonial life.

4 comments:

  1. And no indoor water! We are so spoiled with all of our gadgets today. Thanks for this "wake-up" article!

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  2. Wonderful post TAMERA, thank you for sharing. It would have taken lots of practice, skill & back-breaking work placing those kettles where they needed to be over the fire to cook properly. I imagine those skirts could be hazardous if gotten too close to the fire (as in the 1st picture).
    Blessings, Tina

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  3. The colonial kitchen was one of my favorite 'play times' as a child. I would pretend I had a brick oven and fireplace and cooked in a big pot. I'm strange, what can I say?
    It's also why I love reenactment villages! Thanks Tamera!

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  4. This is great information. Thank you so much.

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