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Steam is employed to great advantage for culinary purposes. It is made to communicate with vessels in the form of boilers, as a substitute for having fires under them, which is a great advantage, both in the economy of fuel, and in avoiding at the same time the nuisance of ashes and smoke. The most convenient application of steam for culinary purposes is, when it directly acts upon the substance to be heated.

This has been generally effected by placing the substance, whether meat or vegetables, in a vessel without water, and allowing the steam to enter and condense upon it. The most convenient apparatus of this kind we have yet heard of, consists of a cast-iron plate about thirty inches or three feet square, standing horizontally in a recess in the wall, like a table. Round the edge of this plate is a groove, about half an inch wide and two inches deep. Into this groove fits an inverted tin vessel, like a dish-cover. 

This is capable of being elevated and depressed by a pulley and chain, having a counterpoise, in order to expose the table at any time. The steam comes under the table and enters in the center. The dishes to receive the heat are placed on any part within the groove, the steam being common to all. The water resulting from the condensation runs into the groove, and at a point short of the top runs off. The water which remains forms a complete water-lute, to prevent the escape of steam. The table being placed in a recess, like a common stone hearth, a small flue is placed over it to take away any steam that may escape when the cover is lifted up. The great quantity of hot water required in a scullery should be perpetually kept up by a supply of steam. For this purpose a large cylindrical vessel of cast-iron should be elevated in a corner of the scullery, in order that water may be drawn from it by a cock. This vessel should be connected from the bottom with a cold-water cistern, the bottom of which is level with the top of the cylinder, by which the latter is kept constantly full. The hot-water cylinder is closed firmly at the top, and therefore, when the air is allowed to escape, the water rises to the top. If now a pipe be connected with the top, coming down to where it is to be drawn off, if any portion is drawn out here, as much will come in at the bottom of the cylinder from the reservoir above. So far we have described this cylinder without its steam-vessel. 

Within this cylinder, and about the middle, is a distinct vessel, nearly of the width of the cylinder; but having a free space round the inner vessel about an inch wide. The depth of the inner vessel must be about one-sixth that of the outer one. This inner vessel must have no connection with the outer one, and must be so water-tight, that although it is surrounded with the water of the outer one, none should get in. The inner vessel is on one side connected by a pipe with a steam-boiler, having another pipe to allow the condensed water to run off, which may be preserved as distilled water, and is valuable for many purposes. The heat arising from the condensation is communicated to the water in the outer vessel, the hottest being at the top, where the mouth of the exit-pipe is placed. When, therefore, a portion of hot water is drawn from the cock, the pipe of which comes from the top of the vessel immediately under the cover, an equal quantity comes in at the bottom from the reservoir. This useful apparatus is the invention of an ingenious economist of Derby, and is at present in use in his kitchen. 

The art of boiling vegetables of all kinds in steam instead of water, might probably be managed to advantage, as a greater degree of heat might be thus given them, by contriving to increase the heat of the steam after it has left the water; and thus the vegetable mucilage in roots and seeds, as in potatoes and flour puddings, as well as in their leaves, stems, and flower-cups, might be rendered probably more nutritive, and perhaps more palatable; but that many of the leaves of vegetables, as the summits of cabbage-sprouts, lose their green color by being boiled in steam, and look like blanched vegetables. Steam has likewise lately been applied in gardening to the purpose of forcing plants of different kinds in the winter season, in order to have their produce at an early period, as to the cucumber, and some other vegetables of a somewhat similar nature; but the exact manner of its application in this intention, so far as we know, has not yet been communicated to the public; it is, however, by some mode of flues, pipes, and other contrivances for conveying and containing it, so as that its heat may be uninterruptedly, equally, and regularly afforded to the roots of the plants which it is designed to push forward into the fruiting state. 

It is said to have been used in some instances in different parts of Lancashire with great success. But how far the expense and advantage of such a method may admit of and encourage its being introduced into general practice, have not, probably, yet been well or fully ascertained. If it should be found capable of perfectly succeeding in this use, on more full and correct experience, it will, however, constitute not only a neat and clean, but an elegant mode of forcing plants into fruit at early seasons.


The potatoes must be well washed, but not pared, and put into the steamer when the water boils. Moderate sized potatoes will require three quarters of an hour to do them properly. They should be taken up as soon as they are done enough, or they will become watery.