When did people first cook food?

Since when can people cook?

(hp) The oldest evidence that early humans at least prepared, if not cooked, their food before consumption are around 1.5 million years old. Archaeological finds from this period show that early humans used stone tools, for example, to cut up prey, to loosen meat from the bones of the animals or to get to the nutritious marrow inside the bones.

In contrast, people have probably only mastered the “correct” way of cooking with fire for around 500,000 years. The oldest traces of hearth fires and the remains of charred animal bones date from this time.

You don't necessarily need pots made of clay or even metal for cooking: the simplest and most original method of using heat to prepare food is of course roasting or grilling over a fire.
It is also possible to wrap food in clay or loam and then place it in the embers or hot ashes of a fire and cook in this way.
You can also bake, for example, by placing flour cakes on hot stones at the edge of a fire.
In an earth oven you can even cook food like in a pressure cooker: To do this, you dig a small hole in the ground, line it with large leaves, for example, put the food to be cooked in it and pack heated stones in a fire. Now you cover the pit airtight and the meal is gently cooked in its own steam.

Cooking is one of the most important human inventions. Raw meat, for example, is difficult for humans to chew and it is also not very easy to digest. If you roast meat over an open fire, however, it not only becomes more tender and digestible - it also tastes much better.

And last but not least, the heat when cooking or frying also kills harmful parasites or bacteria in the food, so that people eat healthier food through cooking.

In addition, there are many foods that only become edible for us when they are heated or cooked: cassava, a starchy tuber and has been a staple food in South America for thousands of years, is poisonous when eaten raw. You have to grate the tuber beforehand, soak it in water, squeeze it out after a few days, wash it out and finally roast it - then you get a tasty and nutritious flour that you can bake like wheat flour or boil as a porridge.
Raw chickpeas contain a poison that causes nausea and vomiting. Chickpeas are only safe to eat when they are thoroughly cooked - for about two hours.
Green beans also contain an indigestible poison - it is harmless after half an hour in boiling water.
Dried legumes such as peas, beans or lentils would also be very indigestible and hardly edible if they were not soaked in water before consumption and then boiled.

The ability to cook has also opened up completely new storage options for people and thus enabled them to survive better in times of need: Because storing dried legumes for bad times only makes sense if you can cook them and make them edible .

Even raw meat would spoil in a short time, depending on the temperature - cooked or roasted, on the other hand, it can be kept for a few days, and if you dry and smoke meat over the fire, for example, it can even remain edible for weeks and months.