Cooking by Gas in 1855

Cooking by Gas in 1855

A small party of scientific and other gentlemen of the city, yesterday made a visit to the city of Worcester, to partake of a dinner cooked by Mr. James B. Blake’s gas cooking apparatus, recently patented. They found the apparatus in a room adjoining Warren Hall, I successful operation, cooking the dinner for the invited guests. The apparatus is a very simple affair in its construction. The boiling part is a cast iron plate with different sized perforations suited to such utensils as are necessary for family use. A coil of copper gas pipe pierced for a number of jets is presented beneath each perforation in the cast iron plate, at such a distance that when the cooking utensil is inserted, the flame from the jet is at the best heating distance.

The baking part consists of an oven of peculiar construction, and which overcomes the grand difficult hitherto experienced in gas cooking . The difficulties hitherto encountered were the loss of heat by radiation and imperfect combustion. In the latter particular there was not only a taster of gas, but an unpleasant odor from the unconsumed gas. Mr. Blake has overcome both of these difficulties. The oven of his invention is oval in form, made of Russian sheet iron, with an inch of coal dust between the outside and the inside, which is so perfect a non-conductor that but very little heat is lost by radiation. The gas is applied at the bottom of the oven, and the heat ascends around it, between the sheet iron that forms the oven and the charcoal lining; there being no escape at the top, the mixed gases, instead of escaping there, as in other gas-cooking ovens, come down past he burners, and, being heavier than the air, not the least offensive odor is noticed.

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Mr. Blake has been trying experiments upon the economy of cooking in this manner, and has furnished us with the following, as some of the results:

  • A gallon of water, and at the temperature of 52 degrees, boiled in seven minutes and twenty seconds; consuming 9-25-100 cubic feet of gas, which, at 3 1/2 miles per foot, cost one cent and three mills.
  • A quart of potatoes, put into cold water, boiled in forty minutes cost three cents and two mills.
  • Three pounds of bread, baked in thirty-seven minutes, costs three cents and two mills.
  • Four pies, baked in twenty-one minutes, cost four cents and six mills.
  • Four pounds of beef, baked in one hour, cost four cents and two mills.

The arrangements for boiling ad roasting are also complete, and cooking by those methods is as cheap in proportion as by those enumerated.

The advantages claimed for this apparatus are, that the combination is perfect, there being free admission of oxygen, but no escape for the heat; that it is always ready; that it is economical, neat, and convenient.

The dinner cooked for the company, numbering 30 guests, was amply sufficient for a much larger number. It embraced a great variety of meats and pastries, was served with dispatch, and was cooked excellently well.

The gentlemen present among whom was the Mayor Worcester, who presided, Dr. C.T. Jackson, Geo. N. Darracott, and others, expressed themselves highly gratified at the success of Mr. Blake. As far as we are able to judge, it appears to be an important invention, especially for summer use. In the warm season it will be far more economical than any other mode of cooking , besides avoiding the heat of a range, which is anything but agreeable when the thermometer is at fever heat.

An apparatus sufficient for a large family will cost not far from $25, and it may be used in any locality, or made portable, provided a flexible gas pipe is used to connect it with the main pipe. A similar sized apparatus, sufficiently large for most families, will cost eighteen dollars.

Mr. Blake intends to test the matter thoroughly, and we learn that some of our citizens are intending to try it in their own houses. Cooking by gas has been looked upon by most men as one of the impossible, solely on account of its, but the improvements of Mr. Blake are important, and deserve the attention of the community. Boston Journal.

Source: Frederick Douglass’ Paper, March 23, 1855

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