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A Very Brief History of Kitchen Utensils

A Very Brief History of Kitchen Utensils

We Homo sapiens have been using kitchen utensils for quite awhile now. How long? Since the dawn of the Stone Age, nearly three million years ago!

Then it was mortar and pestles. Now it’s mortar and pestles and rice cookers sporting the Android operating system.

What happened in between? Let’s turn back the clock …

With the start of the Bronze Age, around 3600 BCE, wealthier households in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions ditched their stone and wood implements in favor of utensils made of—you guessed it—bronze. (And also copper.) As the archaeological record tells us, the Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age, and more sophisticated forms of metallurgy produced more useful tools for food preparation.

But things really started to get interesting around the 8th Century BCE, with the start of Roman Empire. The Romans popularized a variety of kitchen utensils, including meat hooks, meat mincers, spatulas, colanders/strainers and ladles, frequently made of iron, as well as pots and kettles made of bronze and terracotta.

Side note: What ever happened to the meat hook?

The Middle Ages, despite having a reputation for darkness, was a pretty bright time in terms of kitchenalia. Slotted spoons became popular, as did frying pans, pepper mills, tongs, mallets and (one of my favorites) waffle irons. The medieval kitchen also had weighing scales, roasting forks, rolling pins and even cheese graters.

With the start of the early modern period you begin to see even more specialization with tools like apple corers, cork screws and later, with the proliferation of canned food, can-openers.

And at some point, we ditched the meat hook.

The 19th century, particularly in the United States, witnessed a dramatic expansion in the number of kitchen utensils available on the market, such as labor-savers like potato peelers, jelly molds and salad spinners.

Signs of dissatisfaction with copper utensils, which reacted with acidic foods, were emerging, and other metals gained popularity. By the turn of the 20th century, kitchen utensils were commonly made of (tinned or enameled) iron and steel, nickel, silver, tin, and aluminium.

As predicted by Mr. McGuire in The Graduate, the latter part of the 20th century witnessed the proliferation of petro-based utensils—plastics.

See also: The humble spatula’s linguistic origins – The Week

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Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly Stocked

A restaurant kitchen is alive with the hum and bustle of life and movement, and while nothing beats a good staff, stocking the right food service equipment can infinitely improve the efficiency and quality of your restaurant. No matter what type of restaurant you own or operate, you’ll need a massive amount of equipment on hand; ovens, ranges, processors, blenders, freezers, mixers, not to mention plates, knives, forks, chopsticks, etc, etc. In this article, we’ll take a closer at everything your restaurant needs to run as smooth as butter.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly Stocked

One thing that any kitchen needs, whether it’s a smoothie bar or a sushi bar, is proper commercial refrigeration. You need a fridge to keep things cold, fresh, and legal. From walk-ins to reach-ins, do your research to ensure that you get a refrigerator that best suits the needs of your establishment.

Also, you’ll most likely need to make ice on site, so if you’re looking for your restaurant’s ideal commercial ice machine, take a look at these tips on the importance of the right ice machine.

All things start with prep, so you need to be sure that you’ve got the right tools to get any dish started. There are many specialized food prep machines which simplify anything from making pasta to sausages.

Nothing is worse than old, worn knives that waste your time inefficiently cutting, dicing and slicing, so be sure to have top quality cutlery on hand, and to sharpen or replace them frequently. Look over this cutlery Q & A to find the better blade for you.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly StockedOr, you can walk away from the knife and find a new cutting strategy. Using a quality food processor is a multifaceted method to save time while providing consistency of quality. Processors do your slicing and dicing for you, so you needn’t spend time you don’t have choring away at it. Time is money, so don’t waste another minute doing what a food processor could do for you. Also take a peek here to know what processor to buy.

If your restaurant serves food, that food presumably needs to be cooked, so while looking for any or all sorts of cooking equipment, check out this guide to commercial cooking equipment, which includes options for ranges, ovens, steamers and griddles, to find what best suits your needs.

As the American obesity rate continues to grow so does the popularity of fried food, so depending upon your restaurant’s health-stance, you may want to invest in a commercial fryer. While certainly not healthy, fryers make food undeniably delicious, so don’t exclude this enticing addition.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly StockedFrom water to wine, your restaurant will need to find a way to appropriately serve drinks, so consider whether you need a beverage dispenser, or frozen drink machine to make the job easier. Or to make anything from smoothies to mixed drinks, stock up with a blender.

After the dish is served, enjoyed and finished, you’re left to clean up the mess, so investing in a commercial dishwasher is essential for timely turn around.

So whether your restaurant is just starting up, revamping, or merely replacing old equipment, be sure to properly stock your food service equipment to ensure the best restaurant experience possible.

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