Put down the blender, step away from the food processor. It’s time to get in touch with your caveman roots and start cooking the way our ancient ancestors did: with heavy-duty, hand-powered tools.
Not only are these tools far cheaper than their modern and motorized counterparts, but they are durable and give you a hands-on connection that is far more satisfying than the latest, greatest kitchen gizmo.
So equip your kitchen with these old-fashioned devices and you’ll be cooking like a caveman in no time.
There is something deeply satisfying in the horror-movie heft of this weighty blade. Sure it lacks the finesse of a chef’s knife, and it won’t necessarily be the go-to knife for finer kitchen work. But nothing beats the thwack of a gleaming cleaver making short work of a chicken or slab of ribs. And while it’s low-tech, the cleaver is a true multitasker. You can use the blunt edge of the cleaver to crack crustaceans or tenderize meat.
Best use: Chopping spareribs, pulled pork
Mortar and Pestle
In the days before flour mills, these simple tools allowed people to transform grains into ingredients like corn meal and wheat flour, but this was an extremely time- and energy-consuming process. These days the mortar and pestle are still in use, but relegated to quicker tasks, like producing pastes or spice blends. In fact the word “pesto” shares an Italian root with the humble pestle.
For those tempted to grab a time-saving food processor or spice blender, take note: While these Stone-Age tools require a little extra elbow grease, the mortar and pestle give you greater control over the consistency of the final product.
Best use: Pesto, home-made curry blends
The caveman’s convection oven, the spit roast enables even cooking over larger cuts of meat. Still popular today as a barbecue add-on, the spit is a perfect means to roast a bird or even a whole hog. Regardless of whether you prefer a traditional hand crank or a modern motor to power your spit, the device has the power to bring people together over that most primal of pleasures: the smell of slow-roasting meat.
Best use: Chicken, pig roast
When not cooking directly over a fire, ancient man used the surface of hot stones to bake. While it’s not exactly practical to construct a large stone oven of your own, you can get much the same results by slipping a baking stone into your kitchen’s stove.
Stone is wonderful at conducting heat, and its porous surface, which wicks away excess moisture, allows for a crispy, restaurant-style pizza crusts rather than the soft and doughy consistency produced by traditional pans.
Best use: Pizza, bread
In the days before refrigerators, people had to rely on alternative means to preserve food, especially precious protein. Preservation methods such as curing, pickling, and drying all have their advantages, but nothing tops smoke when it comes to flavor.
Whatever your pleasure - bacon, andouille sausage or a kingsized turkey leg - the smoker is a great way to add flavor to your food while extending its shelf life.
There are two methods of smoking food: hot and cold.
The hot method - think traditional barbecue such as spareribs and pulled pork - cooks food at a low temperature for longer periods of time.
The cold method - think bacon and smoked salmon - preserves meat and adds flavor without cooking the food.
You can purchase a dedicated hot smoker, such as the Big Green Egg, or even use your existing barbecue. Cold smokers are a little more difficult to come by, but you can easily make one from gear purchased at the hardware store, following a handy online tutorial. And, hey, what can be more caveman than building a fire-fueled cooker in your backyard with your own two hands?
Best use: Turkey legs, pork shoulder