Vintage kitchens verses today’s kitchen
An amazing look at the past and the present day lifestyle
Kitchens have made several transitions over the centuries. One most noted is the transition to built-ins cabinets and counter tops with appliances.
Built-in stoves and ovens, dishwashers, garbage disposals and trash compactors were not a part of the vintage kitchen.
A dishwasher was the delegated one to stand at the kitchen sink with others on the side ready to dry.
A trash compactor was one foot into the trash can as the family dog stood by just hoping it would spill over scraps and all.
A garbage disposal was a trip out to the chicken coop or the compost pile.
Microwaves then followed by now the commercial size ranges, double wall ovens and double door refrigerators make a vintage kitchen, well look dwarf to today’s kitchens
The typical vintage kitchens would included a kitchen sink, a self standing stove, either wood, gas, or kerosene, a icebox or early refrigerator, a work table and a free standing cabinet.
The ice box or vintage refrigerator had very limited space to store cold foods, not much bigger than today’s counter top refrigerator.
Ovens were small and would only hold a small turkey roaster. Holiday meals would need to be cooked over several days in order to bake all the pies and breads that would be consumed during the Holiday meal.
You may have heard the story about the generations of cutting off the end of a roast as part of the preparation as if it made it better tasting. When the story was tracked down great grandma had no other option but to cook off the end in order to get it to fit into the roaster.
In homes the 1800s and early 1900s kitchen cabinets were part of the household furnishings and moved with the family. The most popular Hoosier cabinets contained all the items needed to bake while the kitchen work table took the brunt of hand crank appliances and food cutting and processing.
Ironically, despite the limited counter work space compared to today’s kitchen the family would prepare and eat almost every meal in the vintage kitchen, whereas today most families may only prepare meals three days per week opting to eat outside the home the rest of the time.
Eating outside the home would likely be an event that people would talk about and remember for years. Today most people can’t even remember a meal they ate out last week.
When electricity became available, most vintage kitchens only had one electrical plug available for a toaster or mixer. The lighting consisted of a twisted cord with one light socket hanging down in the center of the kitchen, most often over the work table.
Most kitchen appliances were still human powered and all fit in limited spaces, whereas today’s kitchen are overrun with appliances that hardly are used.
Vintage kitchen utensils would all fit within a couple of drawers, and the utensils would be very well used, as people in those days were in the Great Depression or survived it and made do with what they had. Today we have so many utensils and drawers we can never find anything when we need it.
Kitchen knives had been sharpened down to the point they were only a fraction of the size they were new. Kitchen knives today have almost become decorator item to sit on the counter top to collect dust.
One would think the trend of the modern kitchen today would be toward compact leaving more square footage for larger family and entertainment space. But instead today’s kitchens are becoming bigger and grander to store even more things and to show case even bigger appliances.
In the era of vintage kitchens plastics had yet been invented. Tupperware and zip lock bags were not available for food storage or the freezer. Only aluminum foil, wax paper, or butcher paper was then available.
Most food was preserved by processing and canning into glass mason jars, which were then stored in a pantry or root cellar.
Today we run out to the grocery store to purchase whatever we need to cook in our grand kitchens. In the era of the vintage kitchen 98% of the food came in fresh from the garden and farm and was processed on the small kitchen work table.
Bread and baked products only came into the kitchen in the form of flour sacks and other ingredients used to make fresh baked items.
Vintage kitchens also doubled as part of the weekly laundry ritual while the kitchen sink doubled as a baby bath tub.
Vintage kitchens were ran by the lady of the house who wore her vintage apron all day long, probably because of all the work she needed to accomplish in such a limited space took all day.
Just imagine how productive people in that era would have been in today’s kitchen.
Amazingly many of the vintage kitchen items are now collector items or are in reproduction for modern day kitchens.
Pictures of vintage reproduction Hoosier cabinets and other reproduction kitchen items are courtesy of Cottage Craft Works .com
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