Baking,  Cooking,  Culinary History,  Food History,  West,  Western

Woodstove Cooking

When the pioneers finally got to their new homes, a woodstove might have been one of the first major pieces of equipment they would have purchased. A woodstove not only provided a good source of heat and ease of cooking, it also helped establish a sense of home in a new place. Woodstove cooking is not like cooking in or on a regular electric oven today! If you have a gas stove and oven, that might give you a better sense of what it meant to cook with an open flame.

Wood burning stoves have been around since Colonial times here in America with Benjamin Franklin first creating an iron box called the Franklin stove. Wood cooking stoves later became popular in the 1800s since they used less fuel. Huge cast iron stoves could soon be found in homes and schools as they also generated better heat faster.

Woodstove cooking was (and still is!) an art in its own way. It has a rhythm to it in order to make sure that the fire never died out completely. The pioneers would bank any live coals at night with ash to keep them alive until the next day. Depending on what wood you used, the fire could burn very hot and for a very long time or it could smolder and die out quickly. Wood from oak, maple, ash and beech after they had been dried and seasoned were the most favored. Wet or “green” wood was never used if possible since it caused so much smoke.

And if your fire did go out for some reason, never fear! If you had a close neighbor, you could trudge over to their house and ask them for some live coals. You would take a small earthen or pottery jar along and stop to blow on the coals every few minutes to keep them alive until you got home and could start the fire again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *