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Cooking, early-mid 20th Century


Pots and saucepans used with old kitchen ranges

There were of course no lightweight, non-stick, aluminium cooking pots in Victorian and Edwardian times.

Cast iron saucepan showing its long handle

Cast iron saucepan

Highly polished copper saucepans

Copper cooking pots

Cast iron cooking pots

In ordinary households, the cooking pots were cast iron which made them very heavy. They usually had long handles, so that they could be lifted with two hands.

The handles of course got very hot in use, so were normally held through a wrapped cloth.

Copper cooking pots

Copper was a better conductor of heat than cast iron and could be made thinner than cast iron pots. This made copper pots lighter and quicker to use. However, copper was much more expensive. So it was mainly found in reasonably well-off homes.

Tarnished copper saucepans

Copper pots left to tarnish. If left too long, they can look darker still.

Cleaning the pots

As there were no non-stick surfaces, it was very difficult to clean a saucepan after use - as I remember from experience and to my cost in the 1940s and early 1950s.

I understand that in Victorian stately homes, scullery maids were expected to clean saucepans by rubbing sand into them with their bare finger tips!

Also, as copper tarnished, the scullery maids had to polish the outsides of the pots too! One of the photo shows well-polished copper pots while another shows them tarnished.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

Text and images are copyright

Photos taken by the webmaster in Tilford Rural Life Centre, Portsmouth Museum and Llanerchaeron House

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