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9 Things We Used To Do in The Kitchen That Just Don’t Happen Anymore

As the world evolves, so do our kitchens. With the rise of technology, our cooking and baking processes look very different from our grandparents’. Yes, some things haven’t changed at all, like the need for oven mitts or hiding cookies before little snackers eat them all. Our stovetop kettles haven’t evolved much, neither has our whisks, measuring cups, pots, and pans. But with the advances in kitchen appliances, some traditional cooking methods and utensils have become almost non-existent. 

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Here are nine things that chefs don’t need in the kitchen anymore. 

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Cook with Real Cookbooks or Recipe Boxes  

Nowadays, whenever we need a recipe, we look it up online. From Pinterest to Facebook videos, to cooking tutorials, and to blogs dedicated to food, cooking has taken its own corner of the internet. Among all of the various recipes, we could find one that perfectly suits our needs, such as substituting ingredients we don’t have or can’t eat, or even finding a beginner version. 

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Back in the day, if you wanted a recipe, you had to crack open a cookbook. Yes, we still have those today, but most of us turn to Google a lot faster than we’d turn to an actual book. Many people also kept recipe boxes where the ingredients and instructions were hand-written on cue cards. These recipes came from friends and family members and added a special, homely touch to these foods like “Aunt Ellen’s Almond Cookies” or “Grandpa’s Sesame Chicken”.  

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Storing Bread in a Breadbox 

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Before bread was sold commercially, many people would store their homemade bread and baked goods in a bread box. While the cookie jar has remained in many modern kitchens, the bread box has disappeared from people’s counters. (However, it’s still a staple in the game 20 Questions, where the second query is “is it larger than a bread box?” Today, our bread is kept in the plastic bags we buy them in, which is honestly a huge downgrade.  

Storing Flour, Sugar, Coffee, Tea, and Other Foods in Canisters 

Like bread, we keep most of our food in the containers and bags we buy them in. However, back in the day, storing flour and sugar and other ingredients in matching labeled containers were the way to go. This trend is actually coming back into the modern kitchen and anyone could see why. They provide easy access, which is a must for morning coffee or tea. They are also aesthetically-pleasing and give a sense of quaint organization to the countertops. 

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Canning and Preserving Food 

Most people hate when good food goes to waste, but it’s anxiety-inducing for those who lives through less bountiful times. There are people alive today who remember wartimes and the Great Depression where every morsel of food counts. So they became experts on making food last so none would go to waste. Additionally, certain foods weren’t available all year round like we are used to. Canning food for the winter was a yearly custom that hasn’t caught on for most of this generation.  

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Baking with Manual Hand Mixers 

Mixing dough and batters by hand is a baking method that holds true today. However, we have more options now. Food processors, stand mixers, and even blenders can speed the mixing process and save our poor tired wrists. Back in the day, they had hand mixers and not the electrical kind. Their mixers looked like two whisks tied together with a manual crank to spin them. It was also known as the egg beater and it was barely a step up from a regular old whisk. With the rise of baking technology, they have fallen out of favor although they are still available for purchase. 

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Home-Make Butter 

Butter is one of the many things most people buy instead of make from scratch. And for good reason. Butter-making included pouring cream into a churner and turning a crank until it turns buttery. It’s incredibly time-consuming and probably more exhausting than using the manual hand mixer. Still, the end result was well-worth the work. Homemade butter tends to be lighter and creamier than store-bought, which is why some people churn their own butter nowadays. [1] 

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Make Coffee with a Percolator 

Coffee has become its own hipster subculture that brought back percolators. Meanwhile, most people have Keurig, drip, French press, or even instant. But percolators were the first, appearing in 1818. It’s essentially a pot designed to cycle the boiling coffee through the grounds until the brew is as strong as the drinker likes it. Those who remember it from way back when — or use it today — can testify that the coffee aroma is heavenly. [2] 

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Grinding Meat 

The meat grinder was once used regularly in the average kitchen and it was quite a workout. The first grinder was invented in the 1800s and required strength to achieve those long meat chains. Some say home-ground meat takes better and results in tastier burgers, meatballs, and sausages. But few people of this generation could attest to that. Today, pre-ground beef is readily available and so are electric grinders that take the exertion out of the process. [3] 

Pounding Meat with a Mallet 

Another tool no longer found in most kitchens is a meat mallet. Beating beef and chicken tenderizes the cuts before cooking. They also make the food easier to chew and digest. Some people pound the meat to thin it for a crispier texture. While these benefits sound reasonable, it’s a step that has fallen out of favor nowadays. Although many still hold to this process — and you’ll be able to hear them at it from miles away — most skip it. [4] 

Keep Reading: 12 Survival Skills Your Great-Grandparents Knew (That Most Of Us Have Forgotten)

  1. Darina Allen. “How to make butter.” The Guardian. Feb 24, 2010 
  1. “History of the Coffee Maker.” Coffee.org
  1. Lee Svitak Dea. “Grinding meat: All in a day’s work.” Star Tribune. May 2, 2012 
  1. “9 Things We Used To Do in The Kitchen That Just Don’t Happen Anymore.” Tip Hero.  
Sarah Schafer
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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