Cooking before electricity
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.