Mar 29 • 37M

Fire & Ice

Two Modern Kitchen Technologies that Changed Our Kitchens and Diets

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Food lovers, Kim Baker and Leigh Olson, invite you on a storytelling journey exploring food memories, family recipes, food traditions, cuisines, cookery, and food history to discover how food connects, defines, and inspires us.
Episode details

Ever since humans first learned that most foods taste better when cooked, we sought ways to harness fire and ice. Too much heat or chill can burn and destroy our food just as much as too little can spoil all our efforts at a tasty, nutritious meal. Yet development of two of the most fundamental technologies in modern cooking - the stove and the refrigerator - took a long time to be realized in the home kitchen. Join Leigh and Kim as we take on the storied histories of these two powerhouse appliances.

Scraping the surface of ice. The first step in the process of harvesting ice.

The Impact of Fireless Fire and Artificial Cold

For our latest entry into As We Eat’s Kitchen Technology series, Kim and Leigh explore the history and impacts of two modern appliances that changed the ways we store and cook (and bake!) foods as well as influenced the variety and nutritiousness of our diets. 

Kim explores the history of the “fireless fire” that became the multipurpose stove - a modern marvel with which a home cook can boil, bake, broast, and broil! Thanks to human ingenuity, and the easy production of cast-iron goods, the average household cook no longer has to risk burning the house down over haywire coals. Years worth of technological experimentation with gas and electricity has made the all-in-one stove a household name.

The Rumford Roaster, Precursor to our modern ovens.

Similarly, Leigh found that harvesting ice needed for cold storage precursors to the refrigerators was dangerous work, but one deemed acceptable as it allowed households to keep foods fresh without having to resort to preservatives and pickling. Refrigeration also enabled long distance transportation of goods and produce from one side of the country to another - opening palates and diets to variety not otherwise known.

Together these two appliances made an additional, astonishing impact on the family home as color and style emerged as a deciding factor on which range or refrigerator to buy. Together we speculate on how these twin heating and cooling technologies will continue to evolve, and how the state of cooking may evolve with them.

Rumford Fiire Oven Diagram

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Fire & Ice Transcript

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