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Jamaican Utensils
Coal Stoves, Dutch Pots & Other Kitchen Weaponry

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Jamaican Utensils | Dutch Pots (Dutchie)Jamaican Utensils | Dutch Pots (Dutchie)

by Kesha Stewart | Associate Writer

Replicating the Taste of Jamaica in your kitchen is labour intensive. It is not a task for the “fenke-fenke” (weak-willed/easily daunted), you must be ‘Tallawah” (strong/resilient). You also need the right weapons for your battle.

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Dutchie/Dutch Pot

Jamaican Utensils | Dutch Pot With Rice & PeasJamaican Utensils | Dutch Pot With Rice & Peas

The first weapon in your quest to conquer Jamaican Taste is a Dutchie/Dutch Pot. In the past, this utensil was made in Holland (the Netherlands) and imported by Dutch traders which is alluded to in its name. However, we are doing it ourselves these days.

A dutchie comes in different sizes based on your needs but they are essential due to their versatility. You can fry, boil or bake and even do steamed fish in a dutch pot with amazing results.

It locks in heat and creates a remarkably balanced distribution of heat to ensure your food is evenly cooked. To bake a pudding outdoors, live coal is simultaneously placed below the dutchie as well as on its inverted cover.

Grate/Grater

There is a lot to be said about the humble grater. Varying in size from the large to the extremely small, this bit of punctured metal fixed to a wooden base is a not-so-secret weapon in a Jamaican Kitchen.

Cooks reduce coconut, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn (on the cob), nutmegs and other foods/spices with efficient use of the grater. Of course, you could do this in your blender, food processor or grinder but it's unlikely to be the same taste.

Wooden Spoon

A wooden spoon/turn stick on your kitchen wall will announce your "Jamaicaness" in a heartbeat. It is a respected weapon in reproducing Jamaican taste. This spoon is usually made from almost any wood except bitter varieties such as cedar and bitterwood. My mother recommends sweetwood.

The piece of wood is shaped into a spoon at your desired length. The spoon goes right to the bottom of the pot and puts you in charge of it, especially those large, deep pots used for preparing meals for large gatherings such as family reunions.

It ensures that your food such as soup or turned cornmeal is not adhering to the bottom of your pot and also allows you to combine certain foods well like rice and peas.

The wood selected to make the spoon is important as it will impart its own distinctive flavour to the food. A turn stick is like a spoon but without the hollowed-out part, my favourite kind is made from pimento wood.

Mortar and Pestle

Jamaican Utensils | Mortar & PestleJamaican Utensils | Mortar & Pestle

No piece utensil is more labour intensive than a mortar and pestle, particularly the old-fashioned types. Again this is made from wood that is carefully selected and gouged out. Broadleaf and other hardwood types were commonly used.

Softer types were not used because the method used to create the well in the block of wood was impossible for softwood types to endure without coming apart. Fire coals were placed strategically on the block of wood until a sufficiently large hole was created.

This was then cooled with water, carefully washed multiple times and then commissioned into service. Needless to say when your coffee, cocoa, corn or pimento seeds was pounded in the mortar by the accompanying sturdy pestle (mortar stick) a specific flavour is created.

Guava or pimento wood was mainly used to create mortar sticks as they are very sturdy and smooth making them less likely to cause damage to the palms of the hand.

You might be more familiar with the smaller version of this utensil, but the larger ones are used to beat cocoa, castor beans and other ingredients done in large quantities.

Pudding Pan

In the old days, the pudding pan was a large, deep (in some cases wide) aluminium container that was used to do everything from washing dishes by hand to storing fried fish overnight. Nowadays I find that a pudding pan is still valuable even though it is not made from the same material anymore.

In most, if not every single case, a pudding pan is great for a kitchen. A lot of things like combining the ingredients for your pudding or for washing your meats and vegetables. Since we believe in ‘rubbing up’ our meat well, a pudding pan is great to do this kind of thing.

This is a great way to achieve Jamaican flavour because what we do when we rub up our meat is massage in the spices that gives our meats the distinctive flavour that the world loves.

Coal Pot/Coal Stove

Jamaican Utensils | Coal PotJamaican Utensils | Coal Pot

A coal pot or coal stove is a great addition to your kitchen. Your roast breadfruit, fried fish and your potato pudding will taste a lot different. The number one thing about a coal stove is that it uses charcoal as fuel and the flavour imparted to your cooking is very similar to what you would get using a wood fire.

But beyond that, it is one piece of weaponry that helps to achieve authentic Jamaican taste. Not sure what this looks like? Let me try and describe it for you. A coal pot also called a coal stove is a fairly small cooker fuelled by charcoal.

The top is shaped like a basin and is covered by a metal grill, which is attached to a long hollow cylinder-like foot. In essence, it is essentially a primitive single cooktop. The modern versions are powered by gas or electricity.

You can still acquire a coal stove and use it in your quest to achieve Jamaican Taste. It is a great addition to your backyard cooking exploits too.

I’m not sure if you knew that these were some of the weapons Jamaicans wield to give our food that longed for Jamaican taste that is authentic and full of flavour. I'm also not sure if Jamaican cooks will bash me for letting the puss (cat) out of the bag. Only time will tell.

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References & Sources For Jamaican Utensils

  1. Jamaica Gleaner, https://jamaica-gleaner.com/
  2. Jamaica Information Service, https://jis.gov.jm/

Jamaican Utensils | Written: August 15th, 2022

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