Below is an excerpt from "Domestic economy and household Science" by Robert James Mann ©1878
KITCHEN UTENSILS AND EARTHENWARE.
Utensil.—An implement or vessel used in domestic service. Fr, Ustensile, a tool for use.
Corrosion.—A gnawing, or eating away. Lat. corrodo, to gnaw to pieces.
Molecular.—Belonging to molecules. Lat. mules, a mass.
Deteriorate.—To make worse. Fr. deteriorer, to damage, or injure.
Retort.—A glass vessel with a long bent neck, used in chemical processes. Lat. retortus, turned back.
The kitchen appliances are an important part of the furniture of a house, because they are all, more or less, directly connected with the preparation of food. The cooking of necessity suffers from inadequate provision in this department.
Cooking utensils are, almost without exception, made of metal, because they have to bear exposure to great heat. The two kinds of metal principally in use for their construction are copper and iron. Copper is preferred for kettles, saucepans, stew-pans and frying-pans in all cases where its greater cost is not of importance, and where adequate care can be given to keep it in a fit condition for use. It is more durable and more easily polished bright than iron.
Both copper and iron cooking utensils are tinned on the inside to preserve them from corrosion. It fortunately happens that tin is not easily acted upon by water and air at moderate heats, and that it is easily kept bright and clean. It is also readily attached to surfaces of both copper and iron, by an intimate kind of adhesion which amounts to the actual molecular joining together of the two metals where they touch. All that is necessary to produce this union is the placing of the melted tin in direct contact with the copper or iron made very clean and hot. This is readily done, because tin melts at a temperature which is only a trifle more than as hot again as boiling water. Tinned vessels, however, gradually deteriorate from the wearing away of the tin lining, and on that account they need to be tinned over again from time to time. If this be not carefully attended to, a poisonous compound, called verdegris, is apt to be formed in the case of copper, from the corrosion of that metal under the combined influence of air, moisture, and heat; and if any trace of this poisonous compound be left in the vessel when it is used in the preparation of food, it may be productive of great injury to the health of a household. The similar compound that is formed from the corrosion of uncoated portions of iron, is not poisonous in the same way. But it is also soluble in hot liquids, and communicates to them a metallic, ink-like taste, and, in many instances, an undesirable, dark colour. The interior tinned surfaces of cooking utensils are liable to be spoiled by the running of the tin into irregular patches and ridges, if the vessels are exposed to great heat when not containing water, or some other kind of liquid. When this has occurred, it is impossible for the irregularly ridged and wrinkled surface to be kept properly bright and clean.
The cheaper kinds of saucepans and kettles, which are spoken of as made of tin and which have the colour and gloss of tin inside and out, are in reality constructed of thin plate-iron, which is tinned on both surfaces. They are very cleanly and serviceable, but are easily injured by careless exposure to dry heat. They take the heat more quickly and also part with it more speedily than utensils of thicker metal.
The best iron saucepans are such as are lined with a kind of enamel, because this is even a more perfect and enduring protection against the corrosion of the iron by the moisture of the food, than tin. These enamelled linings are so beautifully hard and smooth that their surfaces can be washed as easily and perfectly as a plate of glazed earthenware. The enamelled saucepan, however, requires more judicious and tender handling than tinned vessels, because the enamel is apt to be cracked by a careless exposure to great heat, and, when it is cracked, it cannot be renewed as inside tinning can.
With all kinds of cooking utensils, it is essential to proper management that they should be cleaned as soon as they have been used. The soil which they acquire from the combined influence of the oily and other sticky constituents of the food, and of heat, is very much more easily removed if it be attacked at once than if it be left to dry and harden upon the metal before the cleaning is carried into effect.
Some of the utensils used for cooking, such as paste- and meat-boards, rolling pins, and spoons employed for some purposes, are made of wood. With these, prompt and unintermitting cleanliness is even more important than it is with utensils of metal, because grease and soil can soak into the actual substance of wood, and, when they do so, may go so far that they cannot easily be got back again. Implements of wood should always be washed with soap, or soda and water, directly after they have been in use, and, if this is properly done, they are easily kept in good order.
The most perfect, in point of cleanliness, of the utensils provided for domestic use unquestionably are those which are made of earthenware and glass. In both, the surface is formed of a hard glazed substance, which is quite impervious to water or grease, and which, therefore, can be washed thoroughly clean with the utmost ease. Both are, however, unfortunately brittle, and can be broken by rough and careless handling; and neither can bear great heat, or even sudden change from heat to cold, such as is produced by pouring cold water into a vessel directly after it has been filled with hot, without risk of fracture. Earthenware, however, is a perfect material for all those cooking processes which are performed before the fire is brought into play ; such as the mixing of sauces, puddings, cakes, and other food-preparations. If wood were used for these processes instead of earthenware, it would be almost impossible to prevent the flavour which hung about the wood, after it had been employed for one mixture, from finding its way into the next. The impenetrable glaze of earthenware is also unassailable by any of the acids which are used in preparing food, and which are especially prone to corrode metals.
Earthenware, in some of its forms, is made capable of withstanding a considerable amount of heat. This is illustrated in the case of pie- and tart-dishes, which have to remain in hot ovens during the baking of their contents. The glaze of these dishes in the end gets discoloured by the heat, but it even then continues to perform its work of keeping the ware itself impervious to liquids, so long as its own substance is not actually cracked.
The finer kinds of earthenware, of which are made the plates, dishes, cups, and saucers that are employed in the serving of food and drink after they have been prepared, and glass which is so universally seen upon the dinner table, are amongst the most beautiful and serviceable of the substances employed for the construction of household utensils. In both of them, the object of cleanliness is as perfectly obtained as it is possible for the most fastidious and exacting taste to desire. Everybody is aware how- very easily all articles of china and glass are washed after they have been used, and what an irresistible charm well-kept china and glass have when they are set out for a meal upon the table. The brittleness is the chief defect with either ware, and this is unhappily increased in proportion to the delicacy and excellence of the articles : with the notable exception that thin glass bears the sudden application of heat, such as is caused by the pouring in of a stream of hot water, better than the thicker kinds do. The thick kinds crack when hot water is suddenly poured into them, because the thick substance expands unequally as the heat slowly finds its way in, and the parts which are most expanded by the heat are then apt to be actually torn asunder from those that are so acted upon in a less degree. In thin glass, the heat gets through the entire thickness at once, and then all expands equally, without disrupture of the particles. On this account utensils of glass which are intended for heating, such as the retorts used by chemists, are always made very thin.
In the washing up of china and glass, deliberation and care are necessary; and the habit should be acquired of handling in this way articles that are at once so slippery and brittle. Such a habit must of necessity be formed by the exercise of thought and method, but is easily acquired when it is set earnestly and resolutely about.