August 2, 2012

Kitchen Tools They Ought To Still Make

I was perusing kitchen books at the library and found one about historic kitchen tools. I couldn't resist checking it out and thought some of these items never should have been discontinued. They are certainly things I would purchase and use.

Here's one I would love to have for example......

Utility Measure, c. 1890

This is a utility measure and has a built in funnel for pouring bulk liquids into smaller, more manageable bottles. Priceless for those of us who don't have three hands: one to hold the pitcher, one to hold the bottle, and one to hold the funnel. This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company and came in four sizes: 1/2 or 1 pint, 1 quart, and a gallon.

Measuring spoon, 1940

This measuring spoon would be a useful tool, and in fact recall having seen and used one somewhere in my past. It is made of stainless steel and wood, and was manufactured by the Edward Katzinger Company.

My first thought was how convenient it would be. I wouldn't have to fish around to find the right size spoon.

Then I thought I'd probably never be able to find it, like my other measuring spoons.

Then I thought, but this one is bigger (measures about 12.5 inches in length) so it would be easier to keep track of.

Then I thought how often I'd have to stop and wash it because it would be dirty from the previous ingredient.

Then I thought I'd just have two, one for wet ingredients, and one for dry.

I'd like one of these too...

Soap saver, circa 1890

A soap saver. Leftover bits of bar soap were put in it to swish around in dishwater to make it soapy. What a great idea. Of course nowadays, most soaps are liquids and aren't soaps at all, but detergents, which are petroleum based products. I use as few of these a possible, and boy would a soap saver be handy.This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company. The stamp indicates that the patent was granted September 14, 1875.

This one would be handy...

Utensil scraper 

I've seen similar tools in restaurants for scraping the cooktop, so perhaps I could find one.

I like the idea of this too....

Cream whip & egg beater, c. 1890

The "Lightning" Cream Whip & Egg Beater. It was also manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company, and looks like it would be a wonderful tool to have. Quick and simple! The sales ad says it was easy to clean too, always a bonus.

Now this one...

Mayonaise mixer, c. 1920

.... is called a mayonaise mixer [sic - that's how they spelled it]. I don't know what it was made of, but you can see it's a clamp on model and looks pretty sturdy. I actually have something similar ...

Tovolo Mixer for egg whites
& whipping cream

Mine is made of plastic and advertised for whipping cream and egg whites. I got it after I had so much trouble making the meringue for my Christmas lemon meringue pie. I've only tried it once, to whip cream. Unfortunately I think it had too much milk in it (hand skimmed with a spoon), so it didn't do well. It does get difficult to turn the crank when as the liquid thickens and is not very easy to clean either.

And how about this one. Anyone with dairy goats or a cow would probably like one of these...

Milk strainer pail, circa 1870s

This is a milk strainer pail. The spout and handles make it look so convenient to pour the milk. I'm assuming it was poured into the strainer, rather than having the strainer built in(?) Made of tin, it was manufactured by F. A. Walker

I'm sure a lot of this can still be found in various stores that sell used or vintage items or antiques. My part of the country however, is not a good place to buy things like this. That's because the Southern Appalachians rely heavily on tourism as part of their economy. Prices for these types of things are premium, aimed smack dab at those tourists. For example, the gallon crocks Dan brought me back from Ohio a few years ago, sold for $12.50 a piece. I'd be lucky to find them around here for $30 each. I've seen them priced as high as $65.

With the resurgence of true homekeeping perhaps someone will once again start to manufacture these things. I'm sure a lot of us would find them welcome and useful.


Farmer Barb said...

Darling Leigh, The Utensil Scraper in the pro cooking world is called a dough scraper. I use one every day. It is stainless with a plastic grip. It was about $10 and can be had from restaurant supply places very easily. Also Sur-la-table catalog and other places like Kerekes--a baking supply house. The answer to your egg white whipping is a BIG whip and an unlined copper pan. If you jam in a copper pan, that works well. It is a chemical reaction thing. You will see it when the whites change the color of the copper. They will be up and fluffy in no time. The cream thing seems to need the big size whip, too.

When I go back to school in the fall, I am going to weld up one of those funnel pourers straight off. WHAT a COOL thing! People now don't ever decant anything except wine.

Bernadine said...

I love the pitcher with the funnel. We have three or four funnels at our house and it would be nice to have it in one easy gadget. I also think the measure spoon is practical. My luck, my family would use it to cook with. :-\ Very interesting tools.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

They still make the cream whip and egg beater. We have one, you can find them in Coffee stores since they can even whip skim milk for froth on top of a coffee drinks. And it does work. The milk straining bucket can be purchased new at Lehmans and our feed stores up here have them. I bet you could make a soap saver with a big tea infuser. Some vintage kitchen tools were the best, of course some (like that mayonaise mixer) were probably more trouble to clean that worth the effort ;)

Woolly Bits said...

don't know about the other things, but a soap saver would be easy to make. just buy two sieves, one smaller than the other. fix them together opposite the handle, but the soap in between and swish it around in the water? there are also tools for restaurants, to make "potato nests" etc. - but I'd say two simple sieves would be so much cheaper....
happy hunting for all those things you'd like to have:)

Nina said...

A big whisk works well for egg whites and whipped cream. It just takes a bit of arm power. The type of beater you show is very similar to some types used for milk frothing etc. I've seen similar types of measuring spoons out there too. It looks a tad inaccurate to me though. No easy way to level off the ingredients. Dough scrapers are another tool which has stood the test of time. That old mayo mixer looks like a monster to clean though. Any tool that takes longer to clean than to do it's job, is not on my list of must haves.

Mama Pea said...

Ha! You should have seen me visibly cringe when I saw that mayonnaise whipper-upper thingie . . . what a bear it would be to clean!

BUT some of those old utensils look like gems and would fit right into many of our kitchens.

Why did they stop making those really handy tools? Because people stopped doing for themselves and relied on others to supply all their needs. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

You are a woman after my own heart Leigh! I have been researching hand tools for the kitchen as well, because I want to give up all my electric doo-dads. Thanks for sharing!

CrankyPuppy said...

We were at an antique auction and they had one of those mayonnaise mixers. The main body of it was glass and the recipe was in raised letters right on the glass. It was a very popular item to pick up and look at, as I don't think most people have ever seen one. We didn't stick around long enough but, if we had, I would have bought it!

Renee Nefe said...

We have a kitchen gadget outlet store near us and I've seen everything EXCEPT the Utility Measure. But someone who is handy could fashion one.

I own the dough scraper but I haven't used it yet (not sure why I though I had to have one!)

Leigh said...

First of all, a computer/internet update. After replacing the ethernet card and then the modem, I ended up having to order a new computer sigh. It was supposed to be delivered on Aug. 1st. Today I receive notification that delivery has been delayed. double sigh So, I continue to trek back and forth to the library to use their internet. I'm thankful for it, but what a hassle.

Barb, thanks! We do have a few restaruant supply houses around, so that may be easy to comeby.

I didn't know that about copper pans and egg whites. I have a standard (i.e. small) whip, but that one's slow. I may have to look into a larger one and a copper pan, if it doesn't break the piggy bank, LOL

Bernadine, agreed!

Jane, excellent ideas. I actually have a large tea ball somewhere! I'll have to fish out my Lehmans catalog too. There was something else I was planning to order from them anyway. I agree about cleaning some of these tools. My plastic whipper is a pain to clean.

Bettina, another good idea for the soap saver! I can manage those. It would be a great thing to do with those bits of leftover soap.

Nina, it's the arm power I'm trying to avoid, LOL. I learned another way to measure things from Julia Child. To simply empty a teaspoonful into your hand and remember how it looks in your hand. Not scientifically accurate, but then, cooking rarely is. :)

Mama Pea, I feel the same way!

Stephanie, you know, since my Kitchen Aid died, I hardly use any electric gadgets anymore, though at times I wish I had a small hand mixer. We may not be able to find these, but there are some great ideas in the comments!

CrankyPuppy, how neat! I wonder what it went for.

Renee, I need to find a place like that! As Farmer Barb said, a utility measure could be welded! Hmm, sounds like a job for Superman Dan!

Natalie said...

1. I want the spoon...for my medicine box, as the boys have different doses of medicine when they are sick. How convenient would that be.

2. The dough scraper...some of our dollar stores carry those. In stainless steel no less. (I try to avoid the dollar store, but that's where my sister bought one)

3. I also want the egg and cream whipper. My son wanted to make whipped cream with a whisk the other day (he is nine) but I didn't think he would be able to stick with it until it was done. That one looks like he could handle it.

Wouldn't it be nice if some big manufacturer read your post and the comments and realized that there is in fact a call out there for back to basics and did something about it?

Unknown said...

I found a vintage item very similar to the The "Lightning" Cream Whip & Egg Beater", it's like a glass jar with a handle that goes thru a lid. $2.00 at a yard sale, cute red wooden handle :) I've seen similar ones on eBay since then...

CaliforniaGrammy said...

The only tool I have is the dough scraper however I use it for many things such as gathering up chopped vegetables to toss in the soup pot. I like the bucket with the pour spout . . . will be great for the goat milk.

James said...

The pitcher with a funnel attached they still make for dispensing funnel cake into a deep fryer. I don't know where you would get one though.

bspinner said...

What fun to look at all the drawings you posted on kitchen gagets. I would love to get a meat grinder like you posted some time ago. My Mom had a metal clamp on one and she could make the best meat salad with it for sandwiches. Since we lived on a farm and raised our own beef that's what we had. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Hope you get your new computer soon!

Anonymous said...

My grandmother had both the measuring spoon and the soap swisher. The measuring spoon was not that accurate, as one of your correspondents mentioned. It seemed a bit light weight and was dented and pretty shallow. The soap swisher was rectangular, and held bits and pieces of soap and was regularly used to prime the water when something needed soaking. I don't think it was used as a substitute for the regular dishwashing soap. I know you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, so I suppose you could use the wire whip it has for making meringue, should you want to. --Sue in MA

Farmer Jen said...

I have tool that looks just like the Utensil Scraper picture. Mine is the brand name "bash & chop". I use it as a dough scraper and dough cutter when baking bread. It was originally intended to crush garlic cloves and chop herbs, I think. It's all metal with no attached parts to fall off or break. Very nice.

Great post! I love learning about old tools for the kitchen, garden or workshop.

Julene said...

What a fun read today! Several of those tools would be handy to have! I like the measuring spoon the best! Two, one for wet and one for dry.
I finally put all my kitchen tools in a "Round about" from Pampered cleared up space in my too few drawers. :) Thanks for bringing us a little history!!

Jen said...

I want a cast iron manual mixer so badly. They sell for a small fortune on ebay.

Little Homestead in the Valley

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Lehmans in Ohio is a good place to find some of these things. Some I still use in my kitchen every day.

F said...


I love my food mill from the 40's. I know it is aluminum and you're not supposed to use it, but it works great and food doesn't sit in it. It just passes through, so I figure it's a risk I'm willing to take.

Here's what it looks like:

We're having our inaugural Eat Make Grow Blog Hop. We are looking for folks to link up who want to share what they have been eating with their families, growing in their gardens or making with all their creative impulses. If you're interested, I hope you'll hop on over and link up a couple of your posts. It's a way for you to grow your readership and find other like minded mamas.

Hope to see you there,


simply living said...

On the utility scraper, I have heard the other names but I call it a bench scraper. Professional chefs have called it that. Mine is over 20 years old and often used. Especially for pie dough, I don't over flour the "bench" and consequently need to help the dough off if ther is a damp spot. Also good for picking up chopped vegies and cleaning up excess flour from baking. I just bought my daughter one for about $7.

Leigh said...

Natalie, it would be great!

Nancy, you do find the neatest vintage items!

Janice, it's nice to know those are still around. I can see a lot of useful things to do with them.

James, I'll hve to look into one of those, thanks!

Barb, they still make those meat grinders. In fact I have two, my grandmother's, and one I got for $3 at a yard sale!

Sue, sadly my KA is dead. Dan wasn't sure if he could fix it so I'm mixer-less at present. I need to try one of those jumbo whips and see if that isn't better than my little one for those meringues.

Jen, thanks!

Julene, Pampered Chef makes some really neat gadgets too.

Limette, you mean a Little Dutch Maid mixer? They're a fortune new too!

Sandra, a number of folks have said that about Lehman's. I went back through my copy of their catalogue didn't find any of these items. :(

Foy, those look really useful and I admit I've eyed them from time to time. Haven't made up my mind about the aluminum though, LOL. I just got back online, so hope to join your blog hop soon.

Simply Living, I definitely need one of those. So many useful uses!

ambra Sancin said...

Not quite as old as some of your wonderful gadgets, however, I've recently discovered an old coffee grinder at the family home. Works like a dream. Love it and have written about it on my blog. cheers

Leigh said...

Ambra, very nice!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an older post, but I was wondering if there's any chance you happen to know the title and author of this book. I'm doing research on soap savers and would love to see what it has to say about the one you pictured here. Thanks!

Leigh said...

shearedbliss, welcome! The illustrations are from a library book. I don't recall title and author, but next time I'm at the library I'll try to find it and let you know. It's very interesting to look at.

Charlotte said...

On the utility scraper, I have heard the other names but I call it a bench scraper. Professional chefs have called it that. Mine is over 20 years old and often used. Especially for pie dough, I don't over flour the "bench" and consequently need to help the dough off if ther is a damp spot. Also good for picking up chopped vegies and cleaning up excess flour from baking. I just bought my daughter one for about $7.