Many famous inventors spent years developing their tools and technology to become what they are today. But did you know that some of the greatest discoveries in history were created by accident? Take the microwave oven as an example, which would not have made its way to countless kitchens had it not been for a candy bar. More on this amusing story later!
Many pieces of modern kitchen equipment share similar stories regarding their origin, and knowing them can help one better understand these innovations' value. Read on to learn more about these kitchen innovations.
10 Brilliant Kitchen Innovations That Changed How We Prepare Food
Being a part of the food industry allows you to handle various types of modern kitchen equipment. Each tool is unique and has specific uses to help speed up and improve your kitchen processes.
But are you aware of the history behind these tools?
Deep frying food has been a common practice since the 5th millennium B.C. This cooking technique was prevalent in ancient Greece and other countries across Europe and Arabia.
During that time, fried cakes were among the most common dishes served under this cooking method. People also began developing different batter-covered recipes to produce a variety of flavors. Yet it wasn't until 1918 when the first deep fryers, a.k.a. Frialators, were developed by J.C. Pitman and Sons, a hotel and restaurant equipment manufacturer.
Pressure cookers were first introduced in 1679. Originally, the product was named Papin's digester after its inventor Denis Papin. Years later, the equipment would adopt its current name.
Since the product can generate high heat levels, it's handy for those living in high altitudes. The heat speeds up the cooking time without losing the food's nutrients.
Chilling food and drinks has always been one of the most common ways to preserve food. While ice boxes and evaporation techniques were common in the past, their use became less frequent after introducing more advanced insulation systems during the 19th century.
Markets began selling different types of refrigerator models throughout the 1920s, with the original design courtesy of German engineer Carl von Linde.
Herbert Johnson introduced the first commercial stand mixer in 1908. In its original design, the product was scaled as an 80-quart electric stand mixer meant mostly for large bakeries.
Over time, Johnson developed smaller models after renaming his brand KitchenAid.
Pierre Verdun designed the first food processor for professional use in 1960. Unlike a blender, the product carried more adaptability with its interchangeable blades for mincing and pureeing. In 1973, Carl Sontheimer created and brought a homemade version to the United States.
The microwave is an accidental kitchen innovation. In 1941, Percy Spencer's experiment involving magnetrons melted a chocolate bar in his pocket.
While Spencer initially wanted to find a way to mass produce magnetrons, the results enabled him to create a product that could heat and cook food using microwave radiation. He called it the "Radarange," a contraction of the words radar and range (or stove), which became the first compact microwave oven.
The process of pasteurization was first discovered in 1862 by Louis Pasteur, who was commissioned by the emperor of France to prevent food from being contaminated during export. Pasteur conducted multiple experiments with wine to see if microorganisms could be removed using controlled heat. His experiments proved successful, and the rest, as we say, is history.
Nowadays, pasteurization is mainly used to treat dairy products, water, and canned goods to prevent illness and diseases like salmonella.
Distillation has been around for over 2000 years, yet refining this method did not happen until the 9th century. Researchers and alchemists like Arnaud de Villeneuve and Jabir ibn Hayyan studied distillation for years and eventually discovered its benefits for producing alcoholic beverages.
Today, restaurants use this process to develop house wines to complement their menu.
The fermentation process has changed how many foods and drinks are served today. Apart from extending its shelf life, it can also add new flavors and textures to food.
While it is a method that has been present as early as 6000 B.C., the modern understanding of fermenting food products was not established until 1789 by Louis Pasteur—the same man responsible for pasteurization.
Threshing machine from 1881
The first threshing machine was invented in 1778 by Andrew Meikle to help him speed up the process of removing grains from its husks. However, because it was the first model he designed, the machine had several flaws that kept it from efficiently doing its work.
A few years later, Meikle discovered a more effective design using a rotating drum and separate sorting pipes. Nowadays, these machines can separate anything from wheat and soybeans to any other small-grained crops.
How Modern Restaurants Can Benefit from These Innovations
Modern kitchen technology has changed food preparation. Since you're in the restaurant business, having these innovations on your side is a huge bonus. Here are essential restaurant equipment your kitchen needs.
The right commercial oven doesn't just give you more space to handle more food at once. It also enables you to expand your menu as you use it to produce unique recipes, helping you attract more customers.
These types of refrigerators can be pricey but are essential to keeping the quality of your inventory fresh and tasting good. They also allow you to control the temperature at lower levels than the standard home fridge.
Apart from providing more food storage, walk-in refrigerators generally have a longer warranty period. As such, you can send it to maintenance to ensure your ingredients are always Michelin star worthy.
While some restaurants still manually wash their dishes, having a commercial dishwasher can be a big help in the kitchen. Not only will you improve your restaurant's time management but you can also get customers' orders ready faster without over-exerting your staff. Some models even have extra features and settings that can help you sanitize and dry your dishes.
Specialized prep tables
Specialty prep tables made from stainless steel or sealed marble are durable enough to handle food directly. Unlike wooden or glass tables, these types are much easier to clean and sanitize so you have an entire space to use. They're also ideal if you need to make dough or pastries.
Cooking Up New Possibilities with Modern Kitchen Innovations
Learning the history behind the tools you regularly use in the kitchen can help you better understand and appreciate their work. And as kitchen innovations continue to improve, they can help you develop new products.