For those of you who don’t know (and if you were born in the 20th. century or later, that’s understandable), the pie safe was a staple of the American kitchen until it was made obsolete by the icebox and, later, the refrigerator. Also called a garde-manger in Louisiana and a pie chest elsewhere, it was the place to store not just pies – although pies were, and are, important – but any and all perishable foodstuffs.
With the threat of pie-hungry rodents and insects being a leading concern, the pie safe was made of sturdy wood construction, with long, tapered legs to discourage climbers. Alternatively, some homes actually suspended the pie safe from the ceiling. Ventilation was necessary, and so the door panels of the finest safes were comprised of wire mesh or artfully punched tin – known by some as tôles de panneaux.
Nearly ubiquitous until the mid-19th. century, the pie safe was displaced by the icebox (when ice harvesting and delivery became widespread), and vitually disappeared. Presumably, only the largest and most pie-savvy kitchens retained room enough for the old pie safe, where, over a century and a half, it matured into a unique and distinguishing conversation piece.
From there, it evolved, inspiring diverse takes on the classic design. Relaxed Cottage Living has not one, not two, but three pies safes on offer in our burgeoning Buffets & Cabinets section. Two of those are more modern takes inspired by the pie safe concept. The third (pictured above) is the genuine article — a meticulously detailed recreation of the classic, right down to the punched tin panels.
One might make an excellent additon to your cottage-style kitchen, and any would be an excellent place to keep your fresh-baked pies.