Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management/Chapter IV – Utensils

Whist sorting through my kitchen this afternoon I was amazed at the amount of machines; equipment and utensils you build up over time. It made go back to Mrs Beeton and see what she advised on the subject. It seems that even before the technology of today your kitchen was always destined to be filled with kitchen gadgets.

Auxiliary Utensils.—To describe everything that it is possible to introduce into the kitchen for use therein is neither practicable nor desirable. From the thousand and one articles, however, that might be enumerated, some few may be selected that hold a prominent place either from the frequency with which they are brought into use, or from the obvious necessity that exists for having them at hand when required.


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1. Bottle Roasting Jack⁠2. Mincing Knife, or Suet Chopper⁠3. Meat Chopper
4. Frying Pans⁠5. Wire Meat Cover⁠6. Pestle and Mortar⁠7. Mincing or Sausage Machine, with Table Clamp⁠8. Double Baking Pan, with Meat Stand⁠9. Drip Pan, with Basting Ladle⁠10. Bottle Jack Roasting Screen


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1. Household Weighing Machine⁠2. Oval Boiling Pot.⁠3. Turbot Kettle.
4. Copper Preserving Pan.⁠5. Fish Kettle.⁠6. Bain Marie Pans.⁠7. Iron Stockpot
with Tap.⁠8. Saucepan and Steamer.⁠9. Steak Tongs.⁠10. Fish Slice.


Weights and Scales.—Our list of utensils may well start with this most important article or series of articles, as a good set of weights and scales is absolutely necessary to every cook. The cook should bear in mind always to put the weights away in their respective places after they have been used, and to keep the scales in thorough order. In weighing butter, lard, or anything that is of a greasy nature, a piece of paper should be placed in the scale before putting in the substance to be weighed. By doing this much labour will be saved. There are many reliable kinds of weighing machines, but the ordinary shop scales and weights still remain the most popular, and the price of a set of weights and scales, with weights sufficient to weigh from ¼ oz. to 14 lbs., is 18s. 6d., and to weigh 28 lbs., 22s. 6d. Spring balances to weigh up to 200 lbs. cost about 11s. and will often be found a great convenience.

Mincing Machine.—This time- and labour-saving invention is almost indispensable in elaborate culinary preparations. The intending purchaser has a wide choice as regards price, size and variety in form. Although the principle is practically the same in all machines, they differ in many respects some doing their work more thoroughly than others, besides being more easily adjusted and kept clean. The “American Two-Roller Mincer” is to be highly recommended in this respect, because the rollers are lined with enamel, and the knives so arranged that they may be easily cleaned. These machines are made in several sizes in two qualities, and may be procured at any ironmonger’s, and cost from 9s. 6d. to 12s. 6d. Ordinary mincing machines may be obtained at from 4s. 3d. Mincing machines answer admirably for quenelle meat, rissoles, etc., where the meat is mixed with other ingredients; but meat to be served as collops or mince is better cut by hand, as the particles of meat must be separate for these dishes, not crushed into a fine mass. Suet may be more quickly and satisfactorily chopped on a board or in a bowl than by a mincing machine, for, no matter how much flour is mixed with it, the suet sticks to the blades of the knives and forms itself into a compact mass. There are, however, chopping machines in which the knife acts on the material on the same principle as chopping by hand. They are not generally used in small households, but in large kitchens where much chopping of this description has to be done, they are most useful.

Brawn Tin.—This utensil is invaluable in preparing brawn or collard head. It is a tin cylinder placed on a foot or stand, into which the superfluous gravy escapes when the meat is placed in the cylinder and put under pressure. For this purpose the bottom of the cylinder consists of a movable perforated plate. The cylinder is not soldered along the junction of the ends of the metal of which it is composed, but the ends overlap, and are movable, one over the other, to a certain extent. By this means the cylinder is rendered expansive and will expand from 6½ inches in diameter to 8 inches. It is sold at 4s. 6d.

Tongue or Brawn Presser.—This article may be used for making either brawn or collard head, like the brawn tin last described; or it may be used for compressing boiled tongue into a round, in which shape it is most conveniently sent to table, and moreover ensures an equal distribution of the fat and lean, which is not the case if the tongue be sent up unpressed, when the greater part of the fat in the root of the tongue is sent away uneaten. There is a perforated plate at the bottom through which the gravy escapes, and a flat plate acted on by a powerful screw at the top, by which the contents of the presser are squeezed to flatness. A good presser may be bought for 4s. 6d.

Rotary Bread Grater.—This machine grates or crumbles the bread without leaving a particle of waste, and will do a small quantity. The crumbs made by this process are much finer than when made on an ordinary bread grater. This grater is only made in one size and quality; the price complete is 5s. 6d.

The ordinary bread grater has smaller perforated plates attached to the side for grating nutmeg, ginger, etc., and is supplied at prices ranging from 6d., according to size.

Steak Tongs.—When meat is being broiled or grilled, to prevent the juices of the steak from being lost by pricking the meat with a fork, in turning it about on the gridiron, steak tongs are brought into requisition for handling the steaks during the process. By making use of these the gravy is kept in the meat. These are supplied at prices ranging from 2s. upwards. A cutlet bat is sometimes used for beating cutlets, chops, etc.; steaks, if beaten, are beaten with the rolling-pin.

The Meat Chopper is used for chopping and disjointing bones. Their price varies from 1s. 6d. to 2s., according to size. Meat choppers have wood handles. Steel cleavers have handles of steel, that is to say, blade and handle are made all in one piece. They are sold at from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d., according to size.

Meat Saw.—A meat saw is used for sawing bones in places where a chopper is not available. For instance, this utensil would come into requisition where a knuckle of ham is required to be severed from the thick end. The meat would first be cut all round down to the bone with a sharp knife, and the bone would then be sawn through. Good meat saws are sold at from 2s. 6d.

Cook’s Knife.—The knives generally used by cooks are made very pointed at the end; and for cookery purposes the slightly convex blades are preferable to those of ordinary shape. They are made 6 inches, 7 inches, 8 inches, 9 inches, 10 inches, 11 inches and 12 inches in length, and cost in the best quality from 2s. to 4s. each, according to length of blade; and from 10d. to 1s. 10d. in the second quality. Both varieties have plain ebony handles. Cook’s forks are made to match the knives; they are larger and stronger than ordinary forks, and, therefore, better suited for lifting masses of meat, etc., out of a saucepan. Prices vary from 1s. to 2s. each, according to length of prong; the average and most convenient size cost about 2s. or 2s. 6d,

French Chopping Knife.—The chopping knife is similar in shape to the cook’s knife but of much stronger make. It may be had in two sizes, each made in two qualities, and costing respectively 3s. or 3s. 9d., with blades measuring 9 inches and 6s. or 6s. 6d., with blades 2 inches longer.

Mincing Knife.—A knife for chopping suet or mincemeat on a wooden board. As it is made with a firm wooden handle, the hand does not become so tired as when using an ordinary knife on a board; and the chopping is accomplished in a much shorter time. These implements should be kept sharp, and should be ground occasionally. There is also a knife half-circular in form used for chopping materials in a wooden bowl. A good mincing knife in either form is supplied at 1s. 9d.

Chopping Bowl and Board.—For chopping suet, meat, etc., with the half-circular knife a wooden bowl should be provided. They are made from 10 inches to 16 inches in diameter, the smallest size being 1s. 6d.; but that is too small to be generally useful, a more convenient size is the bowl measuring 13 inches, supplied at 4s. A chopping board costs about 2s.

Colander.—This useful article comes into daily requisition. The most convenient and strongest form is that of a round tin basin with handles, perforated at the bottom and round the sides with small holes. It is used for straining vegetables, these being poured into the colander when they are cooked, and allowed to remain for a minute or two until all the water is drained from them, when they are dished. Colanders, or cullenders, as the word is sometimes spelt, are made in four sizes, supplied in tin at from 1s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. each, according to size. They are also to be had in strong tin enamelled inside and outside from 1s., according to size. They possess all the advantages of cleanliness, freedom from rust, etc., of perforated earthenware basins, without their liability to be cracked or broken.

Pestle and Mortar.—Pestles and mortars are made of iron, brass, marble and Wedgwood ware. Those of marble or Wedgwood ware are decidedly to be preferred, as they can be easily kept clean. This utensil is used for pounding sugar, spices and other ingredients required in many preparations of the culinary art. Potted meat is first cooked, minced and then pounded in a mortar; and many farces must be pounded before they can be rubbed through a sieve. Pestles and mortars in composition, are made in sizes ranging from 7 inches to 10 inches, taking the diameter of the top of the mortar, and are sold at from 1s. 4d. to 3s. 3d., according to size. These prices include pestles. Marble mortars range in size from 10 inches to 14 inches, and in price from 4s. 6d. to 9s. 3d. Pestles of hardwood, to be used with these mortars, cost from 2s. upwards, according to size.

Preserving Pans.—Jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves are made in these utensils, which should be kept scrupulously clean, and well examined before being used. Copper preserving pans range in size from 11 inches to 18 inches in diameter, in capacity from 5 quarts to 21 quarts, and in price from 14s. to 29s. Preserving pans in enamelled cast iron are sold at from 3s. 6d. upwards, according to size.

Vegetable Cutters.—Vegetables are cut into fanciful shapes, by means of these little cutters. Stewed steaks and such dishes, in which vegetables form an important addition, are much improved in appearance by having these shaped. The price of a box of assorted vegetable cutters ranges from 2s. 3d. to 4s. 6d. Fancy cutters are sold at 2d. to 6d. each. These cutters can be made useful in ornamenting pastry, or cutters especially made for pastry can be had at 3d. each, or in boxes from 1s. 6d. to 2s., according to make.

Vegetable Scoop.—This implement is used for cutting vegetables into small, pea-shaped forms. It is supplied at a cost of 6d.

Cucumber Slice.—For shredding cucumbers into the thinnest possible slices, a little machine is often used. It is made of wood, with a steel knife running across the centre, and sold at 2s. After the cucumber is pared it should be held upright, and worked backwards and forwards on the knife, being borne sufficiently hard to make an impression on the cucumber.

Paste-Board and Rolling Pin.—Paste-boards of average size, made of well-seasoned deal, with clamped ends, are supplied at 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d. When not in use they should be kept in a clean dry place, otherwise they may become mildewed, and the stains thus caused are indelible. Rolling-pins are made in two shapes, convex, that is, tapering towards each end, and perfectly straight. The shaped ones may be very dexterously employed by a skilful cook in shaping pastry and dough; but novices in this branch of the culinary art should select a straight rolling-pin. Both shapes are supplied at from 4d. to 1s., according to size, and the quality of the wood. The best qualities are made from well-seasoned Indian boxwood; a rolling pin of this description, measuring 18 inches in length, costs 2s. 3d.

Sieves.—Sieves, both hair and wire, are made in various sizes, but they are inconvenient unless large enough to fit easily over large basins, into which soup is usually sieved or strained. The hair sieves are used principally for vegetable purées and other substances of a sufficiently fine soft nature to allow them to be readily passed through. Some of the fibre of meat, after being well pounded, may be rubbed through a hair sieve, but with a considerable expenditure of time and strength, therefore a fine wire sieve is usually selected for this purpose. A fine wire sieve is also used in making breadcrumbs. Sieves of suitable size and mesh for ordinary purposes may be had for 6d. to 1s. 2d.

Paste Jaggers.—These are used for trimming and cutting pastry. The little wheel at the end of the jagger is made to revolve, and is used for marking pastry which has to be divided after it is baked. The price of a jagger is from 6d. to 1s. 6d.

Coffee and Pepper Mills.—Patent improved mills for grinding coffee, pepper, spice, etc., may be had to fix permanently to the wall, or temporarily to the kitchen table or dressers. They are provided with a regulating screw, to grind fine or coarse, as may be desired. They are made in four sizes, and cost from 3s. to 9s. each.

Wire Dish Cover.—This is an article belonging strictly to the larder, and is intended for covering over meat, pastry, etc., to protect it from flies and dust. It is a most necessary addition to the larder, especially in summer time. These covers are made in sizes ranging from 10 inches to 20 inches in length, and sold at prices rising from 1s, 3d. to 4s. 3d., according to size. Round plate covers in the same material are supplied at from 1s. 3d. Wire meat safes, japanned, 16 in., 18 in., 20 in., 22 in. and 24 in. square, are supplied at from 20s. Wooden meat safes, with panels of perforated zinc, 24 in., 27 in. and 30 in. square, are sold at from 9s. 6d.

Knife Tray, Plate Basket and Plate Carrier.—A knife tray should be provided for keeping close at hand all knives in daily use. The wicker tray, lined with tin, sold at 2s. 9d. to 3s. 9d., according to size, is very easily washed, and will always appear clean and in nice order, if properly looked after. Japanned trays, equally cleanly and serviceable, may be had, single, with round corners, at from 2s. to 7s.; double, with square corners, from 2s. 6d. to 8s. Wicker plate baskets, for spoons, forks, etc., lined with baize, are supplied in four sizes from 2s. 6d. to 5s. each; and wicker plate carriers for dinner plates, unlined, at 4s., or lined with tin, 6s. The tin, if japanned, costs 10s. 6d. A wicker basket for the reception of plates that have been used and removed from table, with loose wicker lining and lined with tin, is supplied in three sizes at 4s. to 6s. 6d.

Baking Dish.—Many housewives prefer for family pies and puddings a baking dish made of tin, which may be covered with a wire grating, so that it may be used for baking meat and potatoes, the latter being placed in the dish and the meat on the wire grating. Seamless baking-pans, in all forms, oblong, square, round and oval, may be had in sizes ranging from 4 to 20 inches, at prices from 5d. to 4s. each, according to size.

Tartlet Pans.—The trimmings of pastry rolled out, laid in a tartlet pan, and baked, form the foundation of open tarts. The pans are made in all sizes, from 6 inches to 12 inches in length, with plain or fluted edges, at prices ranging from 2d. to 1s. 6d., according to size and shape.

Patty-pans.—These are made of tin, and used for cheese-cakes, little tarts, mince-pies, etc. Some are fluted and some plain, and they are manufactured in all sizes and of different shapes, both oval and round. The price of a dozen patty-pans, in tin, ranges from 2d. upwards, according to size and shape.

Raised Pie Mould.—The moulds in which raised pies are made open at the side, with loose bottom plates. They are usually, though not necessarily, oval in shape; they are made from 6 inches to 11 inches in length; and the smallest size is supplied in strong tin at 2s. to 3s.

Border Mould.—This mould measures 7 inches in length, 2 12 inches in height; its capacity is 112 pints, and its price in copper, lined with pure tin, 8s. Very effective designs may now be obtained in strong tin from 10d. upwards.

Coffee and Tea Canisters, etc.—Japanned tin is the metal of which canisters for tea and coffee are composed. The flavour of the tea and the aroma of the coffee may be preserved by keeping them in tin canisters. The prices of these canisters, to hold from 2 oz. to 6 lb., range from 6d. to 3s., according to size. Among other boxes, made in tin and japanned, for the reception of articles of daily use and consumption may be named Seasoning Boxes, at 3s., 3s. 6d. and 4s. 6d., according to size; Spice Boxes at 2s., 2s. 6d. and 3s., according to size; Sugar Boxes, square in shape, with division, in five sizes without drawer to receive pounded sugar dropping from divisions through perforated bottom, from 2s. 9d. to 9s. 6d.; or in three sizes with drawers, from 6s. 6d. to 10s. Round Sugar Canisters, holding from 1 lb. to 6 lb., are sold at from 8d. to 4s. 6d., according to size; and Flour Bins, bright tin inside and japanned blue with black hoops outside, ranging in capacity from 1 gallon to 3 bushels, are supplied at from 3s. 6d. to 28s., according to size.

Hot-water Dish.—In cold weather such joints as venison, a haunch, saddle or leg of mutton should always be served on a hot-water dish, as they are so liable to chill. This dish is arranged with a double bottom which is filled with very hot water just before the joint is sent to table, and so keeps that and the gravy hot. Although an article of this description can scarcely be ranked as a kitchen utensil, still the utility of it is obvious. Hot-water dishes may be had, made entirely of metal, of various sizes from 21s. upwards, or in nickel, electro-plated, at higher prices. Hot-water plates range in price from 1s. 6d. upwards.

Gravy Strainer.—One of these is absolutely indispensable. One variety is like an inverted cone with the pointed end cut off, having a handle attached to it, and a plate perforated with very fine holes, or piece of wire netting, at the bottom, below which is a rim on which it stands. It is made in three sizes, with fine or coarse bottom, sold at 1s. 6d., 1s. 9d. and 2s. each, according to size. Another kind is made in the form of a cone; but this, of course, will not stand by itself, terminating as it does in a point. It is made in three sizes, with fine or coarse netting, sold at 10d. to 2s. 6d., according to size.

Egg Poacher.—When eggs are much used in a family, an egg poacher forms a desirable addition to the utensils of the kitchen. These are made in different forms, the ordinary poacher being in the form of a circular tin plate, with three or four depressions, to contain the eggs, and with an upright handle rising from the centre. The plate is supported by feet, on which it stands when lowered into the saucepan. Poachers for three eggs are sold for 1s. 4d.; for four eggs at 1s. 11d.

Cask Stand.—For beer it is desirable to have a stand by which the cask may be raised or lowered without shaking its contents. The lever cask stand will be found most useful for this purpose. This stand is, perhaps, the best that has yet been produced, its action being very simple and easy to understand. The price of stand for a 9-gallon cask is 6s.; for an 18-gallon cask, 8s.

Beer Tap.—The best kind of tap for home use is the brass syphon beer tap, which requires no vent-peg, and is fitted with a protector in front, to receive the blows of the mallet in tapping a cask. The protector may be unscrewed to clean the syphon tube when it is in the cask. Another improvement consists in the self-acting tube being brought down close to the mouth of the jug, glass or vessel into which the beer is drawn. Directions for keeping the tap in order are given to the purchaser. This tap is sold at 3s. 6d.

The Corrugated Kettle.—The chief feature of this kettle is the fluted form of the bottom, which not only adds considerably to its strength, but increases the heating surface about 20 per cent., thereby causing the water to boil in a very much shorter time than in an ordinary flat-bottomed kettle. The peculiar form of this kettle, both as regards the fluted bottom and dome top, renders it especially suitable for use on gas or petroleum stoves or spirit lamps. This kettle is made in polished steel in nine sizes, holding from 1 to 12 pints, and sold at prices ranging from 1s. 6d. to 4s. 3d., according to size. It is also made in polished copper or brass in the four smaller sizes, from 1 to 3 pints, sold at from 5s. to 7s. 6d. with ordinary handle. In the five larger sizes, holding from 4 to 12 pints, it is made in polished copper with turned handle and spout, and sold at prices ranging from 8s. to 18s.

Coffee-pot.—When well made, coffee, perhaps, is the most delicious and refreshing of all the infusions that are made for household use, but the goodness of coffee very often depends on the construction of the vessel in which it is made, and it is most desirable to use one in which the aromatic oil of the berry developed in the process of roasting is not driven off by boiling, on the one hand, which invariably spoils coffee, and not made sufficiently perceptible by the endeavour to make it at too low a temperature, which is too often the case. In one of the Patent Coffee Cans either contingency is happily avoided by the peculiar construction of this coffee-pot, in which the coffee, when making, is surrounded by a jacket of boiling water, and thus kept at such a temperature that the valuable principle in which the aroma lies is not driven off, but gradually and continuously brought out, thus increasing to a wonderful extent the flavour and fragrance of the drink. By means of this utensil coffee can be made to perfection in so short a time as two minutes, which shows how easy and rapid the process is when performed by means of this utensil. They are kept in various sizes, and made of various materials, and vary in price from 5s. 6d. upwards.

Freezing Machines.—Ice is now so much used at English tables that it has become a necessary of household economy, and dessert ices follow summer dinners as a matter of course. Dessert ices are, by modern invention and ingenuity, placed within the reach of most housekeepers, and it is easy to make ices by one of the patent freezing machines, which afford a quick, economical and most simple method of freezing. Two ices, or an ice and an ice pudding can be made at the same time by these machines. The mixture to be iced is placed in the tubes or cylinders; outside these tubes rough ice and salt are placed, the ice being pounded, and the salt and a little water added; the piston is then worked up and down. This movement produces a constant change and agitation of the ice and salt, which is compelled to pass round and round the agitator. Two stirrers are attached to the piston, and work at the same time with it; these “stirrers” go up and down inside the cylinders, and stir up and mix the cream or water mixture undergoing the freezing process. This agitation of the cream, etc., is necessary to prevent the future ice from being lumpy and snowy. When the freezing is complete the stirrers are taken out of the cylinders, and the ice pressed down firmly by a presser; this moulds it to the form of the cylinder. It is set by keeping it still in the machine for a short time longer, still working the piston up and down; it is then turned out, beautifully iced and moulded. The same ice and salt which freezes the dessert ices will afterwards freeze a block of pure water ice, or may be used to cool wine.

These freezing machines are made in oak, and are supplied in three sizes, Nos. 1, 2 and 3, to freeze and mould 1, 2 and 3 pints respectively, at £2 10s., £3 5s., and £315s. These are to be used with ice and salt only.

Refrigerators are very necessary in a household, as they ensure both comfort and economy, and, indeed, promote good health in the summer. They consist essentially of cupboards or chests, lined with zinc, and kept cool by ice. The ice receptacle, however, should have no connexion with the storage part, as the food should be kept in a cold, dry atmosphere. A properly-made refrigerator consists of a wood cupboard or chest, lined inside with zinc, and having a tight fitting door; between the zinc lining and wood casing there should be a layer of insulating material, such as thick felt (the cheapest), or better, asbestos, or its artificial substitute, slag-wool. This insulating layer prevents loss by too rapid dissipation of the cold by contact with the hotter outside.”

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