Cooking - Tools of the Trade

The following are tools or props that would be found in the Mess Hall or at a cooking station:
cooking andirons


  • Cooking andirons - These differed from common andirons and attached to their verticals was a series of hooks to support a spitted roast. The different levels of the supports (sometimes called lugs) permitted adjustment of the distance of the roast from the fire, and thus its cooking temperature.
  • Crane - A large iron bracket, hinged to one side of the fireplace, from which the cook hung pots over the fire. It swung to and fro like a gate facilitating the hanging, removal, and tending of the cooking food.
  • Ash shovel - A long-handled shovel with a flat, broad end, used for removing embers and ashes from the fire.
  • Poker - For stirring fires
Fireplace tools from left to right. Poker, Ash Shovel, Pothooks, Spatula, Meat Fork, Trammel, Meat Fork
Fireplace Tools
(from l to r) Poker, Ash Shovel, Pothoooks, Spatula, Meat Fork, Trammel, Meat Fork, Pothook


  • Pothooks - Simple, heavy, wrought iron hooks for hanging implements etc. from the crane. A popular configuration for these devices was to shape them like the letter S. Hooks of this design are called S hooks and a number of S hooks could be linked together to form a chain to adjust a hanging pot's distance from the fire, and thus its cooking temperature. Pothooks in other styles were designed to fit the needs of the cook. Variations included a double-pronged version which gave pots, especially shallow ones like the doughnut kettle, extra stability when hanging on the crane. Another type of pothook acted as a lever, and allowed the cook to tilt a tea kettle of hot water as it hung on the crane, and pour its contents without lifting it from the crane.
  • Trammel - An adjustable pothook that was used to hang cooking pots over the fire at different heights from the crane. The cook could adjust and lock the trammel into different lengths, thereby changing the hanging pot's distance from the fire, and controlling the temperature of the cooking food.
  • Other tools used the same as they are today were the spatula and the meat fork
Cooking kettles, Griddle, and Spider
(from l to r) Griddle, Cooking Kettles, Spider


  • Griddle - Not all griddles were designed to hand from the crane, but most were for general sautéing. Some of the hanging griddles had small feet so they could stand independently on the hearth as well. Other griddles designed solely for use over coals on the hearth floor usually had a pot-look handle, rather than a bail.
  • Cooking Kettle - These boiling vessels came in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. A common type was the rounded, cast iron model with short legs and a bail. They are frequently referred to as gypsy or times bulge kettles today. Kettles were also made of other materials as copper, bell metal, brass, and block tin. Not all had feet and those that didn't usually had flat bottoms or a frame to stabilize their round bottoms and to raised them up over the coals for cooking purposes.
  • Spider - A three legged stand designed to support kettles and pans.
  • Teakettle - A special fireplace version had a tilter attached to its cast iron base allowing the cook to pour hot water right from the crane, so he wouldn't have to lift the heavy pot. Cast iron teakettles usually had short legs, handy when placing them over the coals or simply resting them on the hearth.

Dishes and other items that are in the kitchen included tinware and redware-both pictured below. The redware is for display only.

The descriptions of these tools came from the Open Hearth Cookbook by Suzanne Goldenson and Doris Simpson. Used by permission.
Kitchen Display Tinware Redware
Pot for stew
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Last updated: July 30, 2016

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