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7 Vintage Skills That Will Change Your Kitchen

Sharing 7 Vintage Skills That Will Change Your Kitchen and have you making healthier more delicious food than you ever thought possible. Find out what our grandmother’s secrets below.

jars of beans and lentils in vintage jars

Over the years, my skills in the kitchen have grown immensely. When I look back at my younger self. No matter which version mind you. Either the beginner cook or the more advanced version that had mastered a few dishes. It seems as though my growth as a home cook was stunted by my way of thinking at that time.

I held on to the idea that cooking anything from scratch was something of a mystery. That substituting the myriad of ingredients for pre-made items was far the superior idea as it meant that I would have a meal on the table in less time. Forgetting the all-important aspect of quality. Trading it off for the sheer sense of accomplishment I’d feel for having made something quickly.

For whatever reason when I would hear that someone had made something “from scratch”, homemade, or anything of the sort. I would wonder why. Why go through so much trouble? Pasta sauce was jarred these days with all sorts of flavors to choose from. As were the baking aisles jammed packed with as many cake mixes as a person could conceive.

Surely these two wonderfully created items were just as good as the from-scratch or homemade versions. Ones that seemingly required a multitude of ingredients to recreate. I felt strongly that the shortcuts were the smart route that made complete sense in our modern-day style of cooking.

Not to mention jarring, canning, or making items by hand. I don’t need to tell you that they are all readily available these days.

All these years later, the answer to the question of, why bother, is appallingly clear. We bother because of the quality.

Homemade food and handmade items in the kitchen are fresher. Often healthier, more flavorful; and hands down superior to any boxed, bagged, frozen, or pre-made meal out there. It is appalling that one would ever think in such a way when it came to preparing food in any fashion; and yet, I did.

My forward way of thinking had gotten me stuck in a bad cooking pattern.

One where I would never truly learn.

What These 7 Vintage Skills Will Do…

  • Allow you to make simple recipes with ease.
  • Give you an additional skill or two  and a few good things to add to your basic cooking skills.
  • ​Preserve old-fashioned skills as a modern homemaker.
  • Learn some of the best ways and secrets of becoming a good cook.
  • Teach home cooks a great way to save money in the kitchen, make good food and develop their kitchen skills.

Quality in the Kitchen

It was only after I began looking at the actual quality of those ingredients that my kitchen began to change. Instead of looking forward to new gadgets, or concepts of cooking. I began looking back. To how our grandmothers cooked and how these women all seemed to have the ability to make a delicious home-cooked meal from nothing more than a few simple items in their kitchen.

Always with ease and never disappointing. These ladies owned their kitchens and the skills they possessed in them are downright being lost on us all. A sad but real shame as being a great home cook is nothing short of domestic artistry.

Cooking is a skill we can all appreciate, and after trying a few of these 7 Vintage Skills That Will Change Your Kitchen or even all of them. You will find yourself engaged in a world of learning, where you can create healthier, more flavorful foods with ease. Just as the ladies in past generations had.

It would do all of our grandmothers proud for us to learn of few of these vintage skills and begin to master our kitchens. To do away with all of the convenience and exchange it for a bit of love in our cooking.

Beneficial Vintage Skills

Using Cast Iron

For years I used the standard metal pans from the store that would need replacing every year due to the wear and tear of daily cooking. After a while, those pans would begin sticking terribly and it would signal my annual trip out to grab new cookware set from the latest famous chef; promoting their life-changing pans. I don’t know that pans per se would ever, in fact, change your life. But I know for sure that using the right tools in the kitchen will enhance it.

a woman using a cast-iron skillet for a vintage item in the kitchen

In those days I had a cast iron pan somewhere stuffed into the back of the cupboard collecting dust. I would lug it out every so often and attempt to cook with it. Quickly getting frustrated by the fact that everything seemed to stick to the surface of it. Had I realized that I was the culprit for my cast-iron mishaps, I would have certainly bought fewer pans. And likely cooked better food earlier on.

The fact is when seasoned properly this kitchen marvel will sear meats perfectly, create golden crisp potatoes and bake up a beautiful cake; all in the same pan. There is a reason why those pioneers would bring little on their travels but never forget their all-important cast-iron pots.

It is an incredible tool in my kitchen and one I use every single day no matter what it is I am cooking or baking. It is also listed as my number one skill in the whole 7 Vintage Skills That Will Change Your Kitchen because it is that important. What you cook with matters.

Tips for Use

Never add food to the pan until the pan is properly heated. Use plenty of fat in your pans when baking or cooking anything. Never place the pan in the dishwasher. Season after each wash. Here you can find my full easy to care for guide in How To Care For Cast Iron Cookware.

Cooking From Scratch

This one seems to be less and less common these days so it is deemed one of our 7 vintage skills. Many people opt to use re-heatable foods or frozen entrees for meals over cooking from scratch. It is much more convenient however it is hands down more nutritious and much more delicious to enjoy food in its freshest state.

That is to cook it from scratch. The practice of cooking from scratch over not is something that develops over time. There was a time in my cooking that more than half my ingredients would come from jars or boxes. This was the norm of what I saw other women doing around me. So I naturally thought this was cooking as it was meant to be.

I would also always need to follow a recipe as making anything on my own seemed entirely too complex. The fact is we hinder our learning in the kitchen when we take shortcuts. We never learn to cook but rather how to open jars and heat things. When you practice the art of cooking from scratch; you become more familiar with spices to use and ingredients that pair well.

You are then able to create dishes entirely of your creation. But you don’t start this way. You can begin by making simple things from scratch by following a recipe. Then try replacing pantry items like pancake mix, spaghetti sauce, and homemade biscuits. Things that “dip your toe” into the water and allow you to master them with a little practice.

Baking Bread

Whether or not you have a sourdough starter. Baking a fresh loaf of bread for your table is a skill that we can all benefit from. First off, fresh bread tastes fantastic and it is much healthier for us than store-bought even when using conventional yeast to make it. If you have ever read the back of those store-bought loaves you know what I am talking about. A great beginner bread is my Easy Artisan No-Knead Loaf.

two loaves of soft sourdough French bread

Secondly, it’s an impressive skill to have in the kitchen by most standards. The ability to place a freshly baked loaf of bread on the dinner table made by our hand is an enjoyable experience. Not to mention, a great addition to any meal served. I even find the fact that I have made fresh bread for dinner to allow me to go a little easier on cooking for the meal portion.

For example, making a dinner salad with a fresh-baked loaf of bread is a sufficient dinner. Or a meal of salmon, veggies, and a slice of fresh bread with butter. This skill is especially helpful when you run out of bread and a grocery run is not in the cards.

Using a Sourdough Starter

I have shared on numerous occasions both here on the blog and over on YouTube my love for my sourdough starter, Gary. Yes, it is so precious, that it deserves a name. If you are in the traditional food world for any length of time, you might already be familiar with what a sourdough starter is.

100% hydration sourdough starter

This little kitchen marvel is likely one of the top vintage skills that you can learn on this list. From this bubbly batter, you can make just about any sort of bread-type food you can think of.

Pancakes, English muffins, pizza dough. Be sure to check out the tab for Sourdough Recipes. There you will find a long list of all my favorite things to make using mine.

Your baked goods will have an incredible depth of flavor that you just don’t get from conventional yeast. Not to mention sourdough is a healthier option to have in your kitchen. It is worth making and learning as this has been one addition to my kitchen that I know will stay.

Making Stock (or Bone Broth)

I have been making my stock now for years. It is one of the easiest vintages skills you can acquire. You can very easily make your bone broth or stock from leftover carcasses from dinner. Whole chickens, beef bones, chicken feet from the butcher, turkey carcasses, and even veggie scraps if you are wanting to make veggie stock. Here’s how to create a delicious rich veggie stock straight from scraps.

All types of stock will work pretty much the same way. You can learn my recipe for making homemade bone broth using just a stock pot, some salt, water, and whatever leftover bones you have.

a carcass in a stock pot making homemade bone broth for a vintage skill

This is not only a great money-saving tip. But making our stock or bone broth allows us to create a superior stock or broth. That you can use for soups, gravies, risotto, sauces, or anything you would add your store-bought stock or broth to. I find the flavors of my soups, gravies, and risottos to be far more flavorful than any store-bought one I have purchased.

Not to mention, you get to control the quality of the stock or broth you are making. So the next time you think of tossing out that chicken carcass after dinner. Instead, grab a freezer bag and place it in the freezer until you are ready to make stock or bone broth.

Growing a Garden

Regardless of whether you grow all your family’s produce for the year or keep a small patch during the summer months. The experience of growing food for your table results in higher quality food and a greater appreciation for that food being consumed.

Many of our grandmothers had small patches in their backyards and would pluck out fresh veggies all season long for their tables. Often canning or freezing off extras for the winter months ahead.

*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).

beets from a garden that is a vintage skill

The garden was an extension of the home. A way to supplement grocery store hauls. Yet growing a garden isn’t just all about fresh veggies. Having an abundant herb patch is just as useful in the kitchen. The skill of using fresh herbs in your cooking not only enhances the food itself but it allows us to expand our flavor knowledge.

The proper use of fresh herbs can take a drab few ingredients and turn them into a vibrant dish filled with flavor. So don’t undervalue keeping a few herbs on hand if that is all you have room or time to grow. They will make a real difference in your kitchen and your cooking. Be sure to check out my video for some herb inspiration, The Romance of Herbs.

Whether you grow veggies, herbs, or both. It is sure to enhance your cooking experience.

Saving Rendered Fat

Ok, I am going to get some comments for this one, I know. But if you have not read up on the whole Westin Price diet or the concept of traditional eating this one might make you do a double-take. For years we have been told not to consume animal fats and that things like margarine or canola oil were better and even healthier options when cooking.

Lo and behold, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Animal fats are “good” fats that make food taste better and are the healthier option for our bodies to use naturally. Our bodies need good fats to function properly. Rendered fat contains vitamins and minerals like A, D, E, and K.

The most common source of rendered fat that you are used to is likely bacon. I save my bacon grease for cooking potatoes and adding flavor to a soup. I have even used it to grease the pan for pancakes. It adds a bit of a delicious bacon flavoring while adding the fat needed to cook the food.

Though bacon is a great source for rendered fat use; you can also render fat from beef fat cuts and even pork fat cuts will work fine. You can find larger amounts for rendering fat at local butcher shops which usually sell these for pretty cheap.

This rendered fat is also known as “tallow” which you might be more familiar with. Tallow is a healthy fat that you can use to cook and even to make homemade skincare with as well. Check out this recipe for Whipped Tallow Body Butter. It will leave your skill soft and moisturized.

But before you go purchasing and rendering fat, there are so many wonderful organic grass-fed animal fats readily available. I use this Pasture Raised Beef Tallow just as I would any other sort of fat. It also makes a flakey pie crust as well and keeps my cast iron in great shape! This is also the same fat I use in my homemade beauty items. So it is surely a multi-use fat to keep in your kitchen.

Bonus: Fermented Foods

Fermenting foods is an age-old practice that allows us to preserve food so that it can be kept longer. In older times, this was especially essential when it came to harvesting late summer vegetables that could be stored and enjoyed over the winter time when fresh food was not as easy to come by. Incidentally, fermentation actually came with a major benefit since it produces healthy bacteria for our gut. By now you might have heard the many benefits of eating fermented foods. These days there are a ton available at the store however, making your own is easy and will ensure they are the highest quality.

Not to mention, it is like most things on this list, much more affordable to make ourselves. I remember the very first time I fermented pickles. I was shocked at the slow transformation over the few days they needed to ferment on the countertop. The cucumbers went from a bright green color to a deep dark green. The telltale sign of a properly fermented pickle.

When I bit into it, the texture had also completely changed and I was sold. I could make delicious pickles at home, that were healthy for us to eat. If you are not a pickle eater. Don’t worry. There are a ton of fermented foods you can make including yogurt, sauerkraut, ginger beer, and even salsa

Final Thoughts

 If there is anything that can be gained from the kitchens of generations past, and for me there is so much there for us to learn from. But the overwhelming theme here is that making our own food is not nearly as complicated as we may tell ourselves it is. These days many of us are growing up without even the most basic skills in the kitchen and missing out on many vintage homemaking skills that were once second nature. Preserving, growing food and even celebrating the good time to be had spending time in ones kitchen. That was in its own way a home based culinary school.

One would sit at the table of a family member and be taught through hands on learning and careful observation. For me, it was my grandmothers. Years of watching them create something out of nothing. Their hands moving swiftly over the dry ingredients placed out on the table. Dishing out family dinners in such a way that it appeared effortless.

My grandmother would hand me an old cutting board and a paring knife and I knew almost instinctively to cut the stems off the green beans she laid in front of me. She would tell stories of her childhood while other times we would sit in silence as her wooden spoon stirred about whatever was simmering in her frying pan. It was a sight that stays with me.

As I have embraced these vintage kitchen skills, I am now the one bringing my daughter into the kitchen as she observes me. Sometimes we work in the quiet of the day and other times, we connect through conversation. And somehow I know, I am preserving these skills just as the women before me had.

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