5 Mad Scientist Kitchen Gadgets I'm Still Waiting to See Steampunked

Antique Gallery here

We owe a lot of our modern kitchen appliances to the Industrial Revolution.  Stoves that could change temperature by the twist of a knob, potato peelers, canned foods, and cookie cutters are all products of Victorian or Edwardian ingenuity.  So why isn't there more Steampunking of the kitchen going on?  Sure, Steampunk Home and Kitchens.com have some great ideas for the overall kitchen area, but if I can type in a few quick keystrokes and come face to face with a beautifully steamed computer or laptop that looks like a music box, why is the same not true for some of my favorite toys?

5.  The Teakettle.

Where would I be without listing this one first?  A staple in 19th Century households, and a vital belonging for Steampunks and Professor Elemental fans everywhere. 

From Craigslist for $185...talk about a bargain.
This is a case where the trappings are the fun part.  Most American and Western European kettles are simple and recognizable, but in Russia, it went a step further.  Due to the cold weather all year, many families had a treasured Samovar.  These never caught on in America, but were a common feature in Jewish and Slavic neighborhoods in big cities in the 19th Century. 

4. The Pressure Cooker

From Modern Pressure Cookers
These have been around for a very long time...since the 17th Century (check out a beautiful brass and silver Appert model here).  It was only in the early 20th Century that they gave up their heavy (and hopefully explosion-proof) look, with all sorts of interesting knobs and gauges and steam in exchange for the simplified light-weight versions popular for home canning.  Marketing also traded in the slightly stomach churning name of "Steam Digestor"...doesn't the sound of that just make you want to rush to put its contents on your plate?

If you plan on looking for old pressure cookers, though, be careful! Given their nature, they are dangerous stuff if not calibrated properly, or if time has damaged them in some way.  With those safety concerns in mind, this is one that if found might be better suited to a decoration, or becoming a component of a bigger(and low pressure) contraption. Not sure what to do with one, even if you had one?  Go here!

3. The Ice Cream Maker
1900 model from the Journal of Antiques and Collectables.

Patent for the small-scale hand crank type goes to Nancy Johnson in 1843.  According to the Journal of Antiques and Collectables, by the Civil War there were about 50 different versions of the bucket style machines, and they're still available today if you know where to look.
5 gallon churn attached to a 1926 Hercules Engine.
The concept is simple, and much less dangerous to tinker with then some of the other contraptions on this list:  The inner container holds ingredients, with a paddle to mix them, while the outer canister holds ice and salt, to bring the temperature below freezing.  The combination of the cold and churning creates the ice cream.  I'm fairly sure most steampunk tech-heads(would that make them steamheads?) can get some good ideas from there...

From HomeBarista.com
2. The Espresso Machine.

1901 gave us the Tipo Gigante, a machine invented by Luigi Bezzera to use steam to force hot water through the coffee grounds, hopefully reducing the time his employees took for their coffee breaks.  The result was fast, but bitter.  Desiderio Pavoni, who bought Bezzera's patent, experimented with temperatures and landed at the 192F standard for modern machines.  The Victoria Arudino models will blow your mind.
Exhibit A

 1. The Kitchenaid

Invented 1908, the H-5 home model came around in 1919. According to KitchenAid,
"...all stand mixer attachments will fit any KitchenAid Stand Mixer, including the original." This means that theoretically, one could find an original H-5 and put it to use. 

The H-5, according to DecoDan.com it sold for $189.50 in 1915, no attachments!
These things are essentially a decent little engine with kitchen bits attached...what isn't to love about that?  While there are various sites that make decals for them (and I wouldn't mind seeing a pretty copper one like my mother in law's with cogs on it), I almost wish there was a safe way to put a window in the side so that one could see the inner workings without  it becoming dangerous.  There are even people out there who custom paint them, and although I've been tempted on more then one occasion to try that myself with my plain white one, I'd rather not end up with the sort of paint I have handy in my food. 

Oh, well, one can always dream, can't they?


~~louise~~ said...

Oh I love this post, Jesse. I just dug out an old Waring blender I have, to share for what I like to call "blender day." It's the day Stephen Poplawski was born. (Aug 14, 1885)

If I had to choose one, I'd go with the teapot.

Thank you so much for sharing...

Jesse said...

Ooo...that sounds like fun, Louise! I agree about the teapot. Some of those samovars are lovely, and I couldn't believe I found one for less then $200 on Craigslist. The antique sets sell them for thousands of dollars! It had me humming "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on The Roof while I typed.

Gibson Girl Edwardian Fashion said...

I remember reading a comic from the 1920s about a hotel (I sadly can't remember the name, it was in a Smithsonian collection of comic strips.) Anyway, some rich lady had arranged a Russian Tea to be held at the hotel and double checked that the tea would be served from a Samovar. The owner agreed but had never herd of one, and once he found out what they cost was not about to buy one. So he served the tea from the water cooler.

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