Kitchen Essentials in the 1940s

Something that is often forgotten about in the 21st century is what gadgets were important in any kitchen for the housewife in the 1940s. These would be some important tools to help prepare any meal, many similar to what was used in the 1930s and 1920s, but a few newer had come by the 1940s. These were part of your grandmother’s environment, essential items on a daily basis. We can look back to see what was used in the 1940s kitchen, maybe you still have some of these items and others you may have never heard of. Do include their use in your family history, items for sure a part of your family.

The making of dessert pies, even pot pies for an evening meal was important. So the housewife did need a ‘pie crust trimmer‘. It had a handle of wood and a turning wheel that could trim off the extra pie dough crust around the pie pan. What was neat, the wheeled instrument could make a straight line in the crest edge or very decorative, wavy lines.

The canning of fruits, jams and vegetables were very common in the 1940s. In the kitchen was need a ‘jar lifter‘, needed to handle the hot jars filled with food. Since canning is not done very much anymore, it would be hard to find such a tool today.

With canning, many people even in cities and towns had a garden or purchased farm vegetables from the market. One type was string or green beans. To help get the fresh raw beans ready, a ‘bean stringer‘ was needed. The tool with its round part is where you pull the beans through for them to be sliced lengthwise while at the same time the stringy parts are removed. If you didn’t have this tool, you then had to snap and de-string the beans by hand.

Those who lived near the ocean, river or lake had someone in the family go fishing, a very common source of food. Once in the kitchen, the lady had to use a ‘fish skinner‘ to remove the fish scales and skin. This newer item for the 1940s looked like a big peeler with a handle.

Necessary to any kitchen was a ‘spice rack‘ over the stove. The most common were allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, as well as salt, pepper, sage, dill, or rosemary for savory dishes.

You would think of a ‘clothes sprinkler‘ being in a kitchen but that is where much of the ironing of clothes was done. Before ironing due to the many wrinkles in clothes, the round metal sprinkler top had holes in it and it was placed into the bottle opening of a soda bottle or other glass bottle, even a special decorative bottle. That bottle was filled with water that was then sprinkled on the clothes before ironing. This is surely a device not used very much in the 21st century.

To beat raw eggs, a ‘whisk‘ was needed. Popular in the 1940s was a ‘flat whisk’ which didn’t take up too much room. With the handle and metal coils, eggs and other items such as cream could be whipped.

Then the necessary manual ‘can opener‘ was needed. No electric can openers and crank can openers were available. The housewife used this item in the 1940s with its pointed tip and wooden handle to pierce the top of a can and then cut with the opener’s blade the can’s top metal edge – over and over to get the lid off. You did need a strong arm. It could be dangerous also with that sharp point tip and the metal blade.

These are just a small sample, there were many other items. With no microwave oven or crockpot, the 1940s kitchen did need many dishes, pans and instruments to make a meal.

Photos: Pie crust trimmer; jar lifter; bean stringer; fish skinner; clothes sprinkler; flat whisk; and can openers.

Related Blogs:

What Our Ancestors Had

Finding Heirlooms in the Kitchen

What Your Family was Doing in the 1940s?

< Return To Blog Interesting! Love food history.
Sara N Martin 3/11/20

So glad ... maybe more in the future.
alice 3/11/20

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