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Antique Kitchen Tools

I decided to participate in Antique Thingies Thursdays and Show and Tell Friday this week. I wanted to use it as a chance to talk about one of my favorite vintage items and it works for both of them.

Do you have any guess what these tools are used for?

These two tools came from my grandmother. She had several sets of them, and I was I able to have one of the sets when she passed away.

My grandparents got these tools when they worked at a cannery in Oregon. My dad thinks that they worked at the cannery in the early to mid 1940’s. My grandfather did maintenance at the cannery. My dad thinks my grandmother also worked there, probably working with the produce around the same time.

So, what are they for? Pears. The northwest grows a lot of pears, so pears would have been a popular item for the canneries to process. Here is how they work.

This one peels like this.

Then this one cores the pear.

See how great it works. The pears come out looking so nice.

I rarely use these tools. The first reason why is that we don’t eat fresh pear very often. Oklahoma is not exactly pear growing country, and pears are expensive in the store.

Second and more important, these tools are old and a little rusty. I have oiled them and cleaned them up a little, but I want them to stay as nice as possible. I want to have these tools for many more years. Each time I see them I think of my grandmother and my mother. My mom has a set just like this. For years she used them when canning pears. Friends of ours from church had huge pear trees, and each year we would go pick the pears. My mom would spend the next several days canning them. I can still picture my mom using these two tools. She still has her set and I am sure she still uses them.

These simple tools have been around for many years and I hope they will last for many more.

Have you ever seen anything like them before?

See Update here. You can still buy these.

I posted this last week but decided to link to it again for Toolin It Up Tuesday. For more tools see Life As Mom.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Those are great and it’s so neat that they came from your grandmother. We have a pear tree on our property in Washington state. I could use handy tools like that…

  2. oh wow! what treasures! I wonder how old they are exactly?

  3. How fortunate to have these very nice heirloom tools!

  4. Great memories. I love old kitchen gadgets. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Very unique tools. Have you considered shadow boxing them and putting them on display?

  6. I thought one might be a peeler but I had no idea about the other one. Thank you so much for the canning pears lesson. ๐Ÿ™‚ What neat tools. You’re so lucky to have them.

  7. Coloradolady says

    I would have never guessed those were for pears. That is a really neat tool. Too bad there is not a modern day version of that tool. I really love it, and great that it is a family treasure.

  8. Those are awesome! Definitely shadow box material as Grandma J suggested. They remind me of Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I have no idea why because I think that was about a fish canning place in California, wasn’t it? Anyway, I think your tools are great!

  9. I have never thought about shadow boxing them. That is a good idea. Thanks.

  10. Threeundertwo says

    My mom used to can pears too. She would have loved tools like this! What a great vintage thingie. Thanks for joining in!

  11. Those are brilliant – I wish I could find something like these! Family heirloom kitchen things are great.

  12. I love old kitchen items… those tools are awesome.

  13. No, I have never seen these before. But boy do I wish we had them when I was growing up.. we used to can pears too, and it wasmy job to sit and peel them all with a knife and core the. Day after day it seemed! I will buy canned pears now! These are truly treasures.

  14. I’ve never seen those before, but they’re great. Especially the corer. Why don’t they sell those today?? I’ve not come across one. Thanks for posting these.

  15. Teeny Tiny cabin says

    I have never come across these kind of kitchen tools in my part of the country (Northeast), although there are pear trees around here. Wonderful that you have special memories attached to them–that’s the best kind!
    I have always admired vintage kitchen collectibles–I have an apple peeler that I still use in the Fall and it does a wonderful job of peeling. It was made to attach to a Hoosier Cabinet–I don’t have room for one anymore so now it is in my dry sink.
    Thanks for sharing all the wonderful info!
    Blessings to You!
    Claudia O.

  16. Vintage Mommy says

    Love these! I just bought a set of cheap vegetable peelers at WalMart yesterday. ๐Ÿ™ Yours are fantastic!

    That corer is great, too.

  17. Jane's Fabrics and Quilts says

    Those are great!!!

  18. I have never seen those before! How smart! I wonder if someone still makes those? If not, they should, I’ve done pears with a paring knife, I would have loved to have proper tools like those! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Way tooooo cooooool. I love antique gadgets—they are so interesting and often they work better and last longer than the new ones!! I have an old egg beater that is very old but sooooo goooooooood.

  20. Wow, they are great! I never would have guessed that! What great heirloom treasures!
    Thanks for sharing!

  21. What a great Show and Tell! Fascinating tools. Jean

  22. I kinda thought they were for some kind of fruit, but I was thinking more apple. Very interesting post. I love to see items like that!

  23. Penless Thoughts says

    Hi Lynn, No I have never seen anything like these. How interesting and glad you explained and showed how they work.

    I notice you are from Oklahoma. We are in Coweta a small town just east of Tulsa!!!

  24. Kathi~Lavender, Lace and Thyme says

    Wow! I have never seen them before but they sure are amazing! What a wonderful heirloom to have, I too would limit the use and just enjoy them.

    Have a wonderful day!
    Kathi ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. THE PEAR PEELER AND THE STEMER-CORER HAVE BEEN MADE BY A.D.COWDREY COMPANY SINCE THE EARLY 50’S. IF YOU WOULD LOOK AT OUR WEB SITE You can order them. We are in the process of closing the buisiness so hurry. john h

  26. i like the guessing format i found this site trying to id an item i found.I think its a shame that you dont use those tools. clean the rust off try the peeler on some apples or taters they may work better than the modern peelers you use. i recently started using some old family hand tools and saws in my shop.They are old cherished and irreplacable and i may even break one but just the feel of them working is amazing and the saws all work much better than any modern hand saw i ever used. I never met my grandpa but by using that old saw of his (instead of just looking at it setting idle ) i am getting to know him better every cut i make. Just a idea yo8u can always put the peeler up if you manage to break it or wear it out the memories will always be the same even if the tools get broken bent or worn. do you want you kids to have a memory of the peeler on the shelf that mom said not to touch or one like you shared with us. thanks either way

  27. Yes, I have the same tools…but you did not use corer the right way…you use the wide part of the tool for the rounded part of the pear and the narrow part for the stem end….that will give you the same look as the store bought pears and have less waste.

  28. My mom and grandmother have used those for years in Yakima, Washington. I have a set as well. They are hard to find. With the corer, you use the smaller end to do the top of the core towards the stem, and the bigger end to do the center and bottom half of the core. And you usually start with the bottom half first. Only pic I’ve seen online….

  29. Red Truck Lady says

    look up “pear corer” online and you’ll find several places to purchase them. Mom’s (originally her Mom’s) wore out so I had to buy a new one. Found one by “OXO” with comfort grip handle, sure hope it’s good and sharp.

  30. Betty Francis says

    I am looking for a pear peeler. Where did you find yours?
    My mother worked in a cannery in northern California. She used the same tools for many years and I have used them weekly for another 30. they never get dull. They only get rusty if you let any water stand on them. After I use them I immediately wash them and dry them. The pear peeler works on potatoes and peaches or anything else you would like to peel. I used mine this week while getting peaches ready to freeze. They are as good now as when I got them from my mom 30 + years ago.
    Betty Francis

    • These came from my grandma and are from a cannery in OR. They are at least 50 years old, probably older. I don’t think they make anything like it anymore. I wish they did.

  31. Where can I get these?

  32. Lynn:
    Where can I buy these? The link doesn’t work. My wife has one & it is her favorite tool for apples as well as pears, but the blade now spins in the handle & is also hard to sharpen. I will repair it, but a new one would be a great present is they are still being made.

    • I don’t think you can buy them anymore unless you were able to find it at an antique store or something. I am very careful with mine because I love them and want them to last as long as possible. I hope you are able to fix hers for her!

  33. The narrow end is used to take out the stem and the wide end take out the seeds.

    • we lived right in the middle of a pear orchard and my mom used this tool to can pears all of the time. Love the tool. I think my husband tossed mine and they are hard to find. I bought one about 10 years ago. I think they are still out there.
      Try using the tool how I suggested above- it makes the fruit look prettier and there s less waste.

  34. Peggy Hartley says

    I am so happy to find somebody else that has a pear corer. I have used mine a lot and love it. I turn the cutter and use the narrow end of the scooper to get the stem part out. You end up with even more pear.

  35. Pam Westom says

    I am interested in buying tools like this one. I use a peeler and corer in one. Have you seen one? I can post a picture of the one I borrow from my friend.

  36. Thanks so much. My grandmother had a pear corer in her kitchen when she moved to an assisted home and nobody knew what it was. My Mom saved it as kind of a novelty but thankfully, mystery solved. It’s great that I just planted a pear tree this year. I may have to commandeer it!

  37. My gramma worked at a fruit cannery near Portland Oregon at a similar time and she kept her pear corers, Wehave two and use them every summer but we carefully wash.them and let them dry on the warm stove top (on the enamel space between burners) to prevent rust. Like others suggested, Gramma showed us how to run the narrow end down the part closer to the stem. Then flip it over and use the wide part of the blade to perfectly scoop out the large part of the core. Great memories!!!

  38. Lou Ella Green says

    The mystery has finally been solved, thank you. I have a peeler exactly like this picture and I asked my FB friends if they knew what it was and someone found this site for me.

  39. Linda Mickelberry says

    Do you have any idea WHERE to get these tools?? I’ve lost mine and came into 110 lbs of pears to do up!

    • No I don’t. You are not the only one that has asked that. I wish I knew of a source to find them. Enjoy the pears! That is a lot of pears to have to deal with!

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