1920s Kitchen Tips: 11 Timeless Tricks We Should Still Use Today

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

We’ve all found ourselves frustrated in our kitchens at some point or another when a pesky problem pops up to ruin our recipes. But you’re in luck: these tips from the 1920s just might be the solution you’ve been looking for!

When publishing her Southern cookbook back in 1922, Mrs. E.F. Warren made sure to spill a few secrets about how she kept herself from getting totally stressed out. The timeless tips were included near the back of the book and can definitely still come in handy while spending time in our kitchens today.

She tackles everything from pesky ants invading your counters to the surprising secret ingredient for fluffy cake icing.

Take a look and let us know in the comments if Mrs. Warren missed any of your favorite kitchen tips that your own family has passed down from way back in the day.

And don’t forget to SHARE all the genius 1920s kitchen tips with your friends and family!

[H/T: The Mississippi Cook Book of New Southern Recipes]

Thumbnail Sources: Flickr / The U.S. National Archives, Flickr / Keeping It Real

1. Tenderize Steak With Vinegar And Olive Oil


Instead of banging on it with a mallet, fill a deep platter with three tablespoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the steak inside and allow to soak for several hours, turning it over every hour.

Mrs. Warren explains that the method is “employed in many of the first-class hotels and restaurants,” and able to “transform a tough piece of beefsteak into a nutritious and tender one.”

2. Keep Pies Juicy With Paper Straws

Cherry pie

The straw, “such as is used at soda fountains,” can be cut in half and placed into the dough and filling while baking. This will allow the steam to escape and keep the fruit’s juice from running over the edge.

3. Sprinkle Sage To Get Rid Of Kitchen Pests


If your kitchen is like mine, you’ve probably come to expect an invasion of ants lining your counters every summer despite your attempts to keep them at bay.

Mrs. Warren advises placing small bunches of green sage around the counters and pantry shelves as a natural solution to ward them off.

4. Add Cream Of Tartar To Homemade Icing

Icing on cake

Mrs. Warren recommends adding a one-third teaspoon dash of cream of tartar, which is a spice unrelated to the sauce frequently found with fish dishes, to your homemade icing to “improve” it.

According to Cakespy, this works by helping to stabilize the other ingredients.

5. Slam Your Pan To Keep Cakes From Falling

Cake batter in pans

In her wise words, “If you will slam a pan up and down several times after pouring your cake dough into it, the cake won’t fall when you turn it in the stove.”

6. Use Cold Water To Keep A Sliced Lemon Fresh

Sliced lemon

If you don’t need the full lemon for your recipe, cover it with cold water and change out the water on  a weekly basis.

7. Use An Apple To Keep Cakes Moist

Peeling an apple

This can work for bread or other items you’re afraid of drying out, too. Simply place a ripe, peeled apple with the baked good to retain moisture.

8. Remove Burned Taste From Overcooked Veggies Using Water

Cooking veggies

Mrs. Warren recommends placing whatever you were cooking the vegetables with on a pan filled with cold water and removing any covering from the veggies. Let it sit for a few minutes, then transfer to a new pan or dish and the burned flavor won’t follow with them.

9. Use Cold Water To Prevent Broken Egg Yolks

Poached egg

Poached eggs are notoriously difficult to get right without breaking, but Mrs. Warren claims that dipping the saucer you’re using in cold water before cracking your egg into it will keep the yolk from being so vulnerable.

10. Use Biscuit Dough To Get Rid Of Cabbage Odor

Cooking cabbage

Cabbage can be a delicious ingredient, but the odor it emits while cooking can make your family reluctant to believe that. While boiling the leafy greens, plop some biscuit dough wrapped in cloth along with it and the aroma will be much more pleasant.

11. Brown Pies With Sweet Milk

Pie crust

Mrs. Warren’s secret to making sure her pies always had a perfect golden-brown crust was to grab a cloth and wipe a layer of sweet milk over the top crust.

Did she miss any kitchen tips your family has passed down since the 1920s? Let us know below, and be sure to SHARE with your friends!