Vintage Kitchenalia: A look into Britain’s rich culinary history | Food | Life & Style


Vintage Kitchenalia by Emma Kay, explores Britain’s rich culinary history


Salt and spice boxes are among the earlier more decorative storage items originating from the 1700s.

Prior to refrigeration, meat safes, which superceded “thrawls ” or stone shelves in a larder, kept food cool.

Burglaries during wartime in the 20th century prompted the trend for housewives to stash their cash away in cake tins, items not popularised until the end of the 19th century with the onset of massproduced baked goods.

Hermetically sealed jars such as those simultaneously invented by the American tinsmith John Mason and Yorkshire-born John Kilner (great-great-great grandfather of Jeremy Clarkson), appeared as early as the mid-1800s, inspired by the work of the father of food preservation, Frenchman Nicolas Appert.


One of the earliest and crudest yet the most enduring items in this category is the pestle and mortar, in existence from 2500 BC or earlier.

The invention of cast-iron gears in the mid 19th century inspired a world of peeling, chopping, mincing, grinding and grating devices.

One such was the marmalade cutter below, used to prepare oranges right up until the 1950s. Electric meat choppers could be purchased as early as 1913.

Graters are another ancient implement, introduced to Britain by the Romans. This item was most popular during the 18th and 19th centuries. Small portable nutmeg graters were used to sweeten milk, puddings and savoury dishes while out and about.


From the “dasher ” stick plunged into a wooden barrel to the glass churns with wooden beaters of the 20th century, cheese and butter-making evolved hugely over time.

Accompanied by paddles and ladles, pails, sieves, marble dishes, drying racks and butter moulds , this is a category of kitchenalia that is plentiful in interesting items.

As technology in this area progressed in the early 20th century so too did the number of accidents, with numerous cases from toddlers falling into scalding hot milk and churning machines to hair and clothing becoming caught in machinery resulting in horrific and sometimes fatal outcomes.


One of the earliest and crudest yet the most enduring items in this category is the pestle & mortar


For centuries, unfi ltered insanitary water meant Britain relied on domestic brewing.

Later, imported drinks such as tea, coffee and cocoa took over. Tea offi cially entered the nation during the mid-1600s,…

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