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Open hearth, reconstruction of the Main Franconian Museum in Würzburg
Wood stove
Cast iron coal stove from the 19th century
Cooking machine around 1820 at Chenonceau Castle
An early electric stove, around 1900
An American gas stove

A stove , kitchen stove or cooker is a household appliance for cooking , roasting and baking of food and in its original meaning, the fire or cooking area of a residential building or tent .

History and designs

Originally, open hearths were located outdoors or in buildings or tents, as shallow pits, between stones or on a clay or stone slab. In the excavation site around the Klissoura Cave 1 in the Argos Plain in the north-western Peloponnese , archaeologists have found clay herds of the Aurignac culture that are 23,000 to 34,000 years old . The discovery helps explain the transition from the oldest known stone herds to clay constructions such as those in Dolní Věstonice in the Czech Republic. Much later, masonry bases were added, which in the Middle Ages reached about table height. Roasting was done on grids or on skewers, cooked with kettles that were hung on kettle hooks over the open fire or stood on tripods. With the introduction of the chimney, the stove moved to the wall.

In 1735, François de Cuvilliés the Elder developed the Castrol stove (or pot stove; the name Castrol is derived from the French word casseroles = cooking pots) for the Amalienburg in the Nymphenburg Palace Park, the first fully walled cooking stove with a perforated iron plate on which the pots stood. and a chimney.

Since the end of the 18th century there have been real stoves with completely closed fireplaces and iron or copper hotplates with openings above the fire in which pots and kettles were inserted. With the addition of grates for the fire and flaps for closing the combustion chamber, they developed into economy stoves that made far better use of the fuel, usually hard coal . The holes in the hotplate could be adjusted with different oven rings for different pot sizes . Economy stoves usually also had an oven , a tank for warm water - called a water ship - and a heating cabinet. The development of the economy stove goes back to the physicist Benjamin Thompson , who had several models built according to his instructions. These stoves were initially used primarily in popular kitchens .

Doll stove with alcohol burners

If these stoves were still made of brick, the first metal stoves came onto the market in the middle of the 19th century. A development stage of this time was the so-called cooking machine (" kitchen witch "), also a stove version with different internal fire grates, heat conducted to the cooking areas by heat drafts, water heaters, various ovens and ovens and hearth rings adjustable in size. Because of their high cost, only wealthy people were able to afford such stoves; in Germany these became established in 1860. At this time the first doll stoves were built; these scaled-down replicas of iron fireplaces were popular toys in wealthy families. Since then, simpler versions have been part of the standard equipment in tenements (e.g. in Berlin ).

The first attempts with gas-fired stoves were made as early as the beginning of the 19th century, but sensible use was linked to the spread of an adequate gas network in the cities. At the industrial exhibition in London in 1851, the first portable iron stove was shown, which had been mass- produced in Germany since the 1860s . The stove top had several removable rings and the pots were hung in the opening. In rural areas, these stoves remained in use well into the 20th century. The first electric stove was presented at the world exhibition in Chicago in 1893, but it took until 1930 for it to spread widely, which was also due to the infrastructure necessary for such stoves.

In the second half of the 19th century, various combinations of heating ovens and stoves came onto the market, some with oven tubes built into the side, with attachments for baking and roasting, with a warming box for the dishes .

Modern stoves are operated almost exclusively with gas or electrically. Gas stoves were introduced in the mid-19th century and became widespread in cities around 1900. Combination stoves that allowed cooking on fire or with gas or electricity were also widespread until the 1960s. Since the stove, which was fired with wood or coal, was also used to heat the kitchen in winter, people cooked on fire in the cold season, and in summer they cooked with electricity or gas, as heating the kitchen was then not necessary and even uncomfortable. With the increasing spread of central heating , such devices disappeared from the market.

Newer developments in addition to gas and electric stoves are the microwave oven and the induction oven . In addition to floor- standing devices that connect the hob above and the oven below, there are now many separate devices for installation in worktops and kitchen cabinets, which allow greater flexibility in kitchen equipment and better ergonomics.

Orders from Count Palatine Karl IV. From 1772 also served to prevent a fire in connection with domestic fireplaces. According to the simultaneous building regulations, no more wooden chimneys were allowed to be erected, no more wooden hoses were allowed to be installed, which had to lead the smoke from the fireplace to the fireplace , just as it was forbidden to lead stovepipes out of the window.

Social and religious importance

In the communal houses of earlier times (compare long houses ) the hearth was the center of social coexistence and in many cases the religious center of the house. In prehistoric times the dead were often buried near the hearth. The importance of the hearth fire can be seen in the goddesses who are responsible for the hearth fire ; Most pre-Christian cultures knew such goddesses, and some are still worshiped today. In the European cultural area , the Greek Hestia and the Roman Vesta are known as the goddess of home, hearth and sacred fire . In the area of ancient Greece , ceremonies that revolve around the holy hearth have survived to this day: For example, in Ionia a Christmas custom is celebrated in which wine and oil are solemnly poured into the hearth. In the Romance languages, too, the hearth fire has survived as the center of family life: The French word foyer stands for fireplace, home or home, but also for the origin of something. In Mongolia , the youngest son is traditionally regarded as the heir and keeper of the “sacred hearth fire” of his family (compare Ultimogenitur : Succession of the youngest).

As part of the UN Millennium Development Goals , a report on energy poverty was presented in 2010 , according to which 2.7 billion people around the world cooked their food over wood or dung fires , exposing them to high health risks; 1.4 billion people had no access to electricity and were dependent on the collection of fuel, mainly by women and children, who were also exposed to toxic smoke while cooking.


The phenomenon of a drop of water “dancing” on a hot stove is known as the Leidenfrost effect .

See also


  • Gertrud Benker: In old kitchens. Setup - device - culinary art . Callwey, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-7667-0815-5 .
  • Joachim Schaier: Cooking machine and turbo grill. Household technology in the 19th century and new energies . In: Technikgeschichte, Vol. 60, (1993), H. 4, pp. 331-346.

Web links

Wiktionary: Herd  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Hearth  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Panagiotis Karkanas et al .: The earliest evidence for clay hearths: Aurignacian features in Klisoura Cave 1, southern Greece . In: Antiquity . tape 78 , no. 301 . Antiquity Publications, September 2004, ISSN  0003-598X , pp. 513-525 , doi : 10.1017 / S0003598X00113195 (English, [accessed December 8, 2018]).
  2. ^ Franz-Josef Sehr : The fire extinguishing system in Obertiefenbach from earlier times . In: Yearbook for the Limburg-Weilburg district 1994 . The district committee of the Limburg-Weilburg district, Limburg-Weilburg 1993, p. 151-153 .
  3. Christopher Schrader : UN Millennium Development Goals: Energy for the Poor. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. September 23, 2010, accessed August 17, 2019.