Cook­ing be­fore elec­tric­ity

The Timaru Herald - - COMMENT&OPINION -

Now days when we need to cook some­thing we just flick a switch, but it hasn’t al­ways been so easy. In South Can­ter­bury Mu­seum’s new gal­leries there is a dis­play on just how dif­fer­ent cook­ing was be­fore elec­tric­ity.

The dis­play shows a coal range which was the com­mon way to cook be­fore elec­tric­ity be­came pop­u­lar.

Cook­ing on a coal range re­quired spe­cial skills. The lack of a temperature gauge meant us­ing a range, es­pe­cially for bak­ing, re­quired clever guess work. One way to judge the heat was to scat­ter flour in­side the oven to see how quickly it browned.

If a con­stant temperature was re­quired then the fire had to be very care­fully fed.

With a roar­ing fire in the range the kitchen be­came a warm and wel- com­ing room and served as the cen­tre of the house­hold, rather than the lounge which is the case in most modern homes.

Coal ranges were first im­ported into New Zealand in the 1860s. In the 1870s Shack­lock in Dunedin be­gan mak­ing ranges de­signed to han­dle New Zealand con­di­tions and coal.

Coal ranges were also made lo­cally at Ti­maru’s Hat­ton Foundry.

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