Cooking With Gas ~ 1940's Style

Picture of Main gas cookers8th Jan, 1945


R & A Main Ltd.
Gas Cooker Recipes by Main
Circa 1940's

The following information, instructions and hints have been compiled to help the user to get the best service from either of the above cookers. Those who require fuller information on cooking processes and a more comprehensive range of recipes are referred to the Main Cookery Book, which may be bought from the local Gas Undertaking, or in case of difficulty, obtained directly from R & A Main Ltd. London.
The following is an extract of the introduction of instructions:-


Both types of hotplates incorporate burners of different sizes. The smaller the burner the less the gas rate and the slower the operation. All are efficient from the point of view of most work done for least gas used.

Preventing Waste:

Never boil more water than is presently required.
Do not use utensils that are caked outside with soot from a coal fire, or inside with lime deposit from hard water.
Never use a small utensil on a large burner so that the flame appears outside the bottom or flares round the sides.
Full gas brings water rapidly and economically to boiling point (212oF)
Turn down the gas at once to prevent furious bubbling, which does not make the water any hotter, uses much more gas and soon “boils the pan dry”.


For simmering purposes the flames should be so small that only occasional bubbles are seen on the surface of the liquid.
By turning down the gas at the tap any of the boiling burners may be used for simmering, but the smallest one in the back position is convenient, and may be used with very small gas rate. If the oven is in use, and space permits, place pans inside it instead of on the hotplate. Their contents will cook slowly and give no trouble, whilst gas will be saved. When the griller is in use, simmering and slow heating may be done in vessels placed on the hotplate above it.

Shallow Frying:

Use a frying-pan with a good thick metal bottom. This spreads the heat and so tends to prevent local burning of food. Use fresh dripping or lard for each operation or different food.

Dry Frying:

This is the shallow frying of foods which produce their own fat when put into the hot pan.

Deep Frying:

Where the food is completely immersed in the hot fat. A stout-walled metal vessel should be used, and the fat should be “smoking-hot” before food is put in. The same fat with occasional “make-up” serves for all operations. It should, however, be strained after use and “clarified” frequently enough to prevent burning on the inside of the vessel.


Many appetising dishes may be prepared on the grill. Those who have used it only for toasting bread are advised to give it a trial with other foods, such as stakes, cutlets, bacon, fish, sausages, etc. Grilling has the added advantage of being a rapid method of cooking. There is a two-height grid in the grill-pan.


Always heat up the griller before putting food underneath. Whilst the griller is heating or hot, and not actually grilling, keep the grill-pan or some other protection below it to prevent damage to the enamel surface of the crownplate.

Saving Gas:

When the griller is used for more than a short time a vessel of water may be slowly heated over it, or the contents of a pan may be simmered.


Toast is made most successfully from bread two or three days old. Slices half-an-inch thick, cut some time before use, give the most consistent results.

Cold-Oven-Start Cookery

In general practice it is usual to heat the oven thoroughly before putting in the food. For many dishes, however, such pre-heating is not necessary, and an appreciable amount of gas and time can be saved by placing the prepared food in the cold oven, setting the Gastat to the appropriate mark, and only then lighting the gas.

Meat, large fruit or plain cakes, sponges, pies, stews, bread and scones, may be treated in this way. Several courses of dinner, or complete light meals and breakfasts, may also be cooked starting with the oven cold.

Small buns, tartlets or scones, which are in the oven for a short time only, will, however, not be so evenly browned as they would be if cooked in a pre-heated oven, whilst it is not advisable to cook more than one tray of such "smalls" at a time when starting from cold. In general, foods which will not brown or burn during the short initial period in which the gas is full-on are suitable for cooking by this method.

  1. It is essential that the oven should not be pre-heated at all for this method: the food should be inserted in the cold oven before the gas is lit.
  2. Cold-oven-start is not advisable when using self-raising flour for pastry.

Recipes suitable for cold-oven-start will be found marked with an asterisk*.