Stone Age man learned the earliest methods for cooking meals. Perhaps starting with a stick and placing through meat holding above an open fire. In time he likely figured how to make a spit so he could do other things while his meal was cooking and free up sitting there holding the stick. Over time early man became more aware of cooking leading to the development of implements. These early methods were simplex as wrapping food in clay or leaves which held moisture in without burning food. This is still used today in modern cuisines. More complex methods were used as primitive man discovered the values of boiling water. Many different methods have been uncovered through anthropology as man researches the development of civilization. Early innovation indicate different cultures using regional items to store and boil water such as bamboo, turtle shell or the stomach linings of hunted animals. Some of these methods still used in more primitive regions or less inhabited environment. Nevertheless, as man became more aware of his appetite for food, so did his growth of ways to prepare and cook his food.
The development of bronze and iron metalwork skills allowed for the manufacturing of metal cookware. However, growth of metal cookware was slow due to the higher product cost, and low demand due to its affordability. After metal was recognized with great properties for cookware, most homes would merely continue to the standard of having a medieval kitchen utilizing a cast iron cauldron, some earth ware and a spit for roasting until the mid 17th century.
While popular today, cast iron cookware has been used world wide for hundreds of years. China, India, Europe and North America have found it as an essential cookware. During the trail drives, the Chuck wagon carried several cast iron items, Dutch Ovens, frying pans (skillets) deep fryers, griddles and even waffle irons. Pottery was seldom used with chuck wagon crews due to its poor character for breakability. Although non cookware pottery such as crocks for storing sourdough starter or jugs that may contain alcohol often have been archived in photographs.
NOTE: Lead is an indestructible heavy metal that can accumulate and linger in the human body. Although the problem of lead exposure has been reduced in the United States, minorities and disadvantaged individuals remain chronically exposed. In developing countries, occupational and environmental exposures still exist and are a serious public health problem. Cookware, paint and other household items manufactured or imported into the Unites States can no longer contain lead since the early 1980’s.
As the use of Bronze during ancient civilization became ubiquitous, people began using bronze for cookware as pots and pans, jewelry, buttons’ for clothing, and further used as art sculptors as used in modern day. Copper continues to be hungered for as cookware. Because of its high heat conductive properties and ability to handle extreme heat makes it the best pan for Sautee use. Many collectors just love their look but professional chefs enjoy the modern Copper cookware blended with stainless metal. The first colonist brought these precious copper cookware items with them as they settled early America. Homemakers frequently cooked from the HEARTH before the development of stoves. However, copper was an import item brought to the new world on the most part and very expensive. It continues to be costly but when cared for will last a life time. Since copper is a soft metal, modern improvements using various alloys help maintain the beautiful gold luster and help harden the metal. Brass also is a product of copper smelted with zinc. While not as readily used in the United States, brass cookware is highly popular in Asia often used for utensils or as a coffee maker
Copper kettles and boilers were used on cattle drives. However, copper being more expensive over tin or cast iron often made their purchase slim Pickens as a good trail boss ensured to make good of his budget and the cook made better use of the supplies. Cast iron was surely more practical as well various tin, wood or enamel cookware.
NOTE: Brass, Copper and bronze reacts to highly acidic foods such as wine, tomatoes and other foods. Unlined copper, brass and bronze cookware should never be used to cook or store food and is potentially dangerous. Should any light green discoloration be seen inside the cookware may be developing verdigris, a highly poisonous substance. For this reason, any copper alloy should be coated with a tin lining or stainless steel. Never boil any copper item dry as this can damage the lining. If the lining becomes worn, discontinue using until the cookware has been relined. If you are serious about using copper, always buy a reputable and proven cookware brand.
Gold and Silver: Tableware was made of gold for the royal Mongol courts. Gold is an inert element that does not react with acid or alkali foods. The gold used was 24 carat, and not 10 or 14 carat. Gold has not been highly used as cookware due to cost, although in modern cooking, many items may have Gold plating to give an attractive appearance and elegance. Nevertheless, cost of any gold cookware could only be afforded by the very rich. Silver has also been used mostly as utensils, coffee and tea servers, and for food serving. Silverware was more common through the middle class and wealthy. Since Gold and Silver both are use for modern utensils, it should be noted that the fork is the youngest piece on the dinner table that originates in the orient. The knife, developed during the stone age has made some changes as today the blade is rounded and the handle longer allowing better hand control while cutting or spreading such as butter of their food. The first spoons were made from bone, shell, horn or wood. Knife and spoon was consider personal items and carried by individuals cased in a pouch attached to their belt. Until the Renaissance era, it was customary to eat with your hands. Finger licking good came long before the term used by the Colonials modern fast food of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Generally, there are two types of Enamelware known as Agateware or Graniteware. Agateware is distinctive because of its particular design. It has multi-colored curves and bands circling the enamel. Unlike agateware, Granitewares main component is granite, which gives it a unique finish and color. Enamelware provides good strength and heat conductive abilities and can be subjected to very high temperatures without cracking or fracturing. The thin coating of enamel also gives it a greater degree of flexibility. This finished process made the press metal sheets tough and difficult to break while the glass like surface provided a non stick surface and resisted stains. It’s non-porous surface keeps the cookware nearly germ free.
In the late 18th century, Germany was applying enamel glazes to iron at the same time Sweden was developing this process. The Riess family of Ybbsitz, Austria has been in business now over two hundred years manufacturing enamelware and kitchen products. The Riess business is on the original “Pan making Workshop” dating back to 1550 as Riess GmbH and Company that is now managed by the sixth generation of the Riess Family. As Germany perfected the enamelware cookware, France joined the production ranks, and, by 1803. Great Britain also joined the ranks of top enamelware manufacturers. Enamelware was not manufactured in the New World until around 1848 with the first United States patent. However, competition from Europe and affordability did not make enamelware an everyday house ware until the later 1870’s. However, many immigrants would have brought these cook wares to America along with the importing of the product. During the Civil War, it would be unlikely that either military would have purchased enamelware to use in the field because the readily available European import was considered fancy and colorful. Plus the higher cost over simple tin ware and cast iron. This is not to state that it would not have ever been used, such as gifted or looted, just not purchased. Although as the Civil War ended in 1865, the following year Charles Goodnight invented the chuck wagon for his trail drive from Texas to Colorado. As the trail drives grew over the next 12 years, enamelware was photographed in use and the coffee pot became the essential item for the chuck wagon’s of the late 1860’s. Enamelware was becoming popular among homesteaders, farmers and ranchers alike. This was influence by increase productions in the United States and Mexico making enamelware more affordable over Copper and cast Iron cookware products by late 1870’s.
Story by Roger. Edison