Digital Heritage Moment: Open Hearth Cooking

Open Hearth Cooking

Photo courtesy Great Smoky Mountains National Park Archives

Until cook stoves reached the mountains in the 1850s, all cooking in Appalachia was done over an open-hearth fireplace. Pots for boiling were hung either from a horizontal bar attached to the side walls of the chimney or from an iron crane attached to one side of the fi replace wall that could be swung out into the room. Dutch ovens for baking were placed over hot coals on the hearth with more coals heaped on their lids. Roasting was done on an iron spit and frying was done in skillets placed on top of the fi re. Fireplace tools included andirons or firedogs, bellows, a shovel and tongs. Open hearth cooking was hot, time-consuming, labor-intensive and dangerous for the cook, who could easily be burned.

Digital Heritage Moments are produced at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. To learn more, visit digitalheritage.org. You may also hear Digital Heritage Moments each weekday on radio stations WKSF-FM, WWCU-FM, WMXFAM, WPEK-AM and WWNC-AM.

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