Frequently when cooking and baking were done with an open fire, it was done in an outbuilding known as a “Summer Kitchen.” This not only kept the house cooler in the summer, but also lessened the chance of a house fire. The summer kitchen here in addition to the fireplace has a beehive oven and smoke house. Beehive ovens have been used all over the world for ages and frequently are stand-alone structures. Fire is built in the baking chamber and after the bricks are heated, the ashes are removed and the bread or pastries are placed into the chamber with the aid of a long shovel-like instrument known as a peel, and baked until done.
Our oven was in disrepair, but was restored by Professor Richard Pencek and his American Studies students from Penn State University in 1995. To prove its functionality, Chuck Hacker of Duffy’s Tavern, has baked bread in it for the past several years on special occasions.
Part of our summer kitchen is a smokehouse where smoke from the oven can be diverted from the chimney into the smokehouse. Meat, after being cured, usually in brine or by rubbing salt, sugar and spices into the meat, can be preserved by hanging in a smokehouse where it is subjected to smoke from a smoldering fire for several days.