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Kitchen Appliances The Evolution

Nov 20, 2007
Kitchens have been in existence for many centuries and have always been used for food preparation and storage. The word kitchen derives from the Vulgar Latin cocina and the Late Latin coquina, which literally means to cook. Our modern culture however has evolved the kitchen into a major social and design element of the house, so people can prepare and eat food in style with modern kitchen appliances.

But imagine the kitchen as being a separate room in the house, used only to store food and prepare meals over an open fire using wood or charcoal. Imagine travelling to the nearest well, to fill up your buckets, carrying it all the way back home and waiting hours for it to boil up and cool down safe enough to use. Hard to imagine but this was once the world before kitchen appliances came to existence.

Cookers and Taps - A History

A kitchen appliance was introduced to the Western World between the 18th and 19th century. It was during the industrial period of the 19th century, that architects took to taking the design and function of the kitchen further, by introducing water from taps and cast iron stoves in houses.

Early 18th century industrialisation saw the advancement of technology, which meant that kitchens changed drastically in terms of incorporating new appliances such as the cast iron cooker stove. Earliest models included the Franklin stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin, a furnace stove that was intended for warming up food and not cooking.

But it was not until 1825 that the gas cooker was granted its patent, until this point, all stoves used coal or wood. Early 19th century saw the gas stoves became more popular and commonly used by most households, taking kitchens to the next level.

Not only were gas stoves being installed soon water pipes and sewers were built. Before this collecting water had consisted of a trip to the well, pump or spring every day. It was then carried in a bucket back to the house and heated up for various uses. Certainly, the tap was a major breakthrough in the kitchen design.

Refrigerator Movement

Keeping food preserved and cold was a difficult process before the immersion of refrigerators. Many people would collect ice or snow from the mountains, store them underground which was lined with wood or straw and then filled with ice or snow. This was later known as one of the first cellars in the house.

It was not until mid 19th century after refrigeration was being tried and tested in hospitals to help cool patients body temperature, that James Harrison introduced the first commercial refrigerator to brewery and meatpacking industries. This commercial refrigeration was directed mainly towards brewery's and almost all breweries used them.

However the natural ice supply became furthermore widespread, allowing it to become affordable and more accessible to the public. This became an important kitchen appliance that evidently evolved in style, size, shape and colour. Appliances at this point became a key element to the design of the kitchen and were ever changing with newer features.

Appliances as a Design

Though these inventions were primarily to make food preparation and storage simpler, efficient and convenient, it was not long before the design element would play an important role. In other words making the kitchen more organised, aesthetically appealing and homely. Catherine Beecher and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe introduced domestic planning and kitchen layout in 1843.

Their books 'A Treatise on Domestic Economy' (1843) and 'The American Woman's Home' (1869) gave birth to the first systematic design using early ergonomics, introducing shelving on the wall, plenty of work space and designated food storage areas.

Post World War II saw women turning to their homes, becoming the key figure of maintaining the home, being mothers and evidently an important consumer to manufacturers. Kitchen appliances were rapidly increasing, introducing standard sized sinks, stoves, worktops and drawers. It very soon included electrical outputs, which were essential for usage of microwaves, blenders, toasters and mixers.

Kitchen appliances have come a long way since the early ages of using wood and coal for cooking food. Nowadays the average homeowner will also benefit from the easy storage of food and enjoy mod cons that aid in reducing cooking time. No longer is the kitchen a separate entity, intended solely for convenient food prep but also a place for entertaining guests, and showing off your modern design that match your swanky appliances.
About the Author
Expert cook Shaun Parker looks into the history of kitchen appliances, including life before kitchen appliances came into existence. To find out more please visit http://www.rtd.uk.com/
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