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How people used to preserve perishable foods without refrigeration

Water to help

It turns out that ancient hunter-gatherers had some pretty creative ways to extend the “shelf life” of their food. Among them are the usual lakes or ponds.

So in 2015, two Michigan farmers unexpectedly discovered a mammoth pelvic bone at the site of a pond that had existed in the area thousands of years ago. When archaeologists and paleontologists got involved, they found more evidence on the farm that helped reconstruct the picture of what happened.

than 11,000 years ago, herds of mammoths roamed North America. For hunter-gatherers, killing an animal the size of an African elephant would have been like winning the lottery. So some ancient people put mammoth remains in water to keep the valuable meat from spoiling before their next meal and from other predators. This method was quite effective, but the freshness of the meat was preserved not so much by the water itself, but by the anaerobic lactobacilli that lived in it.

These lactobacilli produce lactic acid, a chemical byproduct of anaerobic respiration. Bacteria colonize the meat and lactic acid preserves the muscle. And, of course, the temperature of the water and the low oxygen in it help keep the product fresh. Thanks to this method, meat could be kept in the frozen water for about six months. In addition, the lactic acid softened the muscle fiber and gave it an unusual flavor and aroma.

How People Used to Get along Without Refrigerators? Description, photo and video

It seems that refrigerators have always been. Nevertheless, the usual kitchen helper is about 100 years old. This “novelty” became widespread 10 years after the end of World War II, in 50-60 years of the XX century.

In the beginning they were small, kitchen table height boxes with an ice compartment and a tray. Then the refrigerator took on its classic shape and familiar functions. Yes, mankind has long ways to preserve food: smoking, canning and pickling, but how to store everyday products without refrigeration?

Drying, salt and wet cloth

Drying and curing foods began from time immemorial. This method of preserving food for a long time was of great help to Slavs not only during long winter months, but also in bad harvests and unsuccessful hunting season. They dried berries and mushrooms, vegetables and root vegetables. Meat and fish have been finely chopped, salted and kept outdoors for months at a time.

7 Ways to Preserve Meat Without Refrigerator || Preservation Techniques of Meat_18th century style

Salt became a real salvation in the fight for food preservation, which is why it was so valued in Russia. Pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, sauerkraut, mushrooms and other pickles which everyone is fond of are tasty “consequences” of the long storage of food.

Salt was used not only in familiar to us and the methods of sourdough and pickling, it was also abundantly sprinkled on the cloth, which then wrapped many products, including loaf. salt has and antibacterial properties.

By the way, cloth was also widely used for preserving food: it was noted that the evaporation of liquids cools naturally, so wet cuts wrapped bottles and other containers and tried to keep them in ventilated rooms.

How food was preserved before the refrigerator

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The first refrigeration unit was presented to the general public back in 1899. Since then the fridge has become an essential part of our life, technology for storing food is improving every year, modern models are equipped with artificial intelligence, there is no need to defrost them and the food in them retains its taste and vitamins for a long time. Have you ever wondered how people preserved food before the invention of refrigeration?? We decided to collect the most interesting ways to preserve food, which were used by our ancestors for centuries before the greatest invention. refrigerator.

• How food storage was handled in ancient times;

• where food was kept in cities and towns a few hundred years ago.

Previously we told about the history of the invention of air conditioners and made an excursus into the history of their creation, and described some interesting ways of cooling that were used by our ancestors before they appeared (read more about it here). Today we are going to tell you about the tricks and methods of food preservation that have passed through the centuries.

How did they cope with storing supplies in ancient times?

It was not in vain that nomadic tribes took their herds of cattle from place to place, for they understood right away that it was much easier to have a supply of fresh milk and meat on hand than to care about preserving it. And they could get food as needed, so stocking up was out of the question. As time passed, nomads had to make longer marching distances, because not all the land was suitable for agriculture, and not every forest had animals. Gradually they began to think about a settled way of life, because natural resources were already very limited.

Now they faced a new challenge. How to preserve food so that you don’t have to starve yourself. For this they began to make baskets and containers of vines, twigs and leaves, which could keep food from spoiling for a while. Further the process only improved, because there were times of poor harvest, loss of livestock, so the food had to be preserved for much longer than before. This is how people began to use precooking. Vegetables and fruits began to be dried, cured, pickled, and preserved. For short-term storage, foods were rubbed in fat to protect them from the damaging effects of sun, air and moisture.

In ancient Persia and India the climate was much hotter than in our latitudes, so they thought about creating special conditions for supplies. It has been noticed that food is preserved longer in cold weather, that’s why for its cooling they began to build cellars and wells with water as a natural refrigerant. The northerners were better off in this respect: they built glaciers or dug holes, covered them with ice and then put meat and fish in them For distant travels, they used clay jugs wrapped in a cloth soaked in water. The water would evaporate, but the food would remain refrigerated. The only drawback was that the cloth needed periodic wetting.

In Persia, a prototype of a refrigerator was invented, which was made in the form of a clay box, where another, smaller one was placed. The same water was poured between the walls, which evaporated much slower this way. These boxes were heavy, but still manageable. over, in some countries of the African continent this method is still used today. The first refrigeration units were also developed and widely used in Persia. Cone-shaped structures with thick walls were built over the place where the brook was flowing. There was only one way in and out. The site of the stream was strengthened and deepened in every way. Jars with supplies were placed inside. Washed down with cold water, the food could be stored for long periods. The inlet is carefully closed and used only as needed to prevent the cold from escaping.

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Another interesting way to preserve the meat. first there was charcoal, then the sliced pieces were rolled in it, and after that they were wrapped in cloth. They were then hung from hooks in a dark place. The good thing about this method is that the charcoal. it was a well-known antiseptic and meat products could be kept like that for several weeks. If it got spoiled, they would wash it and then put it in a bowl of water and throw the hot coals in afterwards. This would help disinfect it and take away the unpleasant smells.

Where food was kept in cities and towns a few hundred years ago

It was much easier for peasants to preserve food than for city dwellers. Although there were no high rises a few hundred years ago, people could not boast of having a lot of privacy. Cellars were built in villages. sometimes apart from the house, sometimes a cellar was made and the food was put under it. Even then, canning was already widely used, although not in the form in which it exists today.

In the wintertime, it was much easier to keep the temperature cold, and the ice did not melt, so food was placed on these blocks. But what about in the spring or summer? In winter, peasants were stocking ice, they cut down blocks of ice on the rivers, which they then took home. They were carried into the cellars, not forgetting to cover them with straw. After that, the food would be stored there. The outside of the cellar was also insulated. with wood or an extra layer of earth. This created what was called an “icebox” where food could stay until the middle of the summer.

Horseradish leaves were used for storing milk. The dairy products would lose some of their taste from being in this “neighborhood,” but they could be kept fresh for about a month. The same horseradish for its antiseptic properties was used in canning cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes. The leaves of this plant were tightly packed into the upper part of the barrel. which protected vegetables from mildew and fungus. The meat was also wrapped in horseradish leaves, which allowed it to be preserved longer. Vegetable oil was poured into bottles or jars of dark glass or clay, and moonshine was poured on top before corking. It prevented oxygen from penetrating inside and let the food stay long enough without losing its gustatory qualities. To keep the meat fresher for longer, it could also be poured over with fresh milk, without the cream on top, rather than cooked. But it had to be changed all the time. once a day.

The natural preservative was salt. Meat and fish were put on top of it, and it could stay like that for several months. That’s where the name “pickles” comes from. Of course, the taste was not everyone’s favorite, but it was very difficult to get poisoned by salted meat. And the ideal preservative for centuries had been honey. It can retain its properties for centuries and does not spoil at the same time. Of course, this feature of it was discovered by accident, but has since been widely used in food preservation. The fruit was infused with honey and put in jars or jars, which tasted more like jam. Because of its consistency it does not allow the inflow of oxygen inside, so the food underneath can be preserved for years. Some also used it for meat. After it was removed for cooking, it was simply rinsed with water. In addition, honey has antiseptic properties and is very useful for many diseases.

In order to make sauerkraut longer edible, a birch stick was placed in a barrel with it. The cucumbers were placed in clay pots, which were then filled with sand. Such a container was then corked and buried in the vegetable garden. In this form, they would stay fresh for about 3 years. 5 months. And for cucumbers to be fresh for a month, they can be kept in spring water, placing their tip there. One disadvantage. Every few days, the water must be replenished. To keep potatoes long, they were boiled for about 5 minutes in salted water. Then they would take it out, dry it, and put it in the cellar. This way, they could preserve their qualities until the next harvest.

Jerky or smoked meat and fish can also be stored for quite a long time. Smoking was a very time-consuming process, but the results were well worth the effort. Our ancestors after smoking took the finished products to a cold place and hung them from the ceiling bars. This method allowed the meat and fish to retain their flavor characteristics longer.

On the basis of the above, man has always sought to create food supplies, because at any time he could be caught by a bad harvest or a plague of livestock. Families were big enough back then, so there was plenty of time to make a supply. Glaciers, cold water, and natural preservatives (honey, horseradish, salt, charcoal, clay) were used for storage. In addition to these, stocks of pickles were made, vegetables, fruit and meat were dried and smoked. This helped to prevent starvation at a time when there were no refrigerators and certainly no freezers. How nice that we live in a highly developed technological age, in which reliable appliances will take care of the safety of our products themselves, without unnecessary tricks. And you can get acquainted with the widest assortment of refrigerators, to study their descriptions, features, technical specifications, actual and reviews for popular models on the site of our Internet store.

Cellars were used to store food and they were dug underground where the temperature was low so that it would be cool even in summer. These underground rooms were used to store most of our food. milk, eggs, cereals and flour. Special canning, pickling, smoking, and jam-making procedures were especially helpful. Such foods could be stocked in summer and eaten only in winter or spring. In addition to all the well-known methods that housewives use to this day, there were other tricks. And the simplest of them was to make exactly as many dishes as could be eaten in one day. Housewives did not prepare anything for several days in advance, nothing was left over. If there was a need to cook dinner or supper there was as much food as the family needed, and very seldom was there any surplus. Only loaf was an exception, it was baked at once for 2-3 days, and if it had time to get stale, they cut breadcrumbs out of it.

If there were dishes left over from the evening they were used in the morning. For example, you could add some porridge, cabbage or potatoes to the dough, make cakes and there you had a fresh breakfast. Such perishable product as milk was added to dough or porridges, people drank it themselves, made cottage cheese, butter and sour cream, gave some of it to piglets or calves, gave some to the neighbors who did not have cows. And if the milk went sour you could make pancakes or pies. To avoid storing the meat, in summer they cooked it very seldom for church feasts or for the sick. If they could not eat it themselves they gave pieces to their neighbors and kept a record of how many they gave away. Then it was the neighbors’ turn to slaughter a pig or a heifer and then they would share with everyone. With this approach there was no need to store the meat in the summertime.

And if the meat had to be preserved for a few days, it was dipped into salted boiling water and then dried. There was also a popular stewed meat preparation when first the meat was stewed in the oven and then distributed in containers and poured over with lard. One could preserve pork or beef by putting it in milk. When it soured, the access of air to the meat was shut off and, therefore, it could not spoil. The fish would be gutted and then wrapped in nettles or bird cherry, which were famous for their bactericidal properties.

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You Can Live Without Refrigeration. Here’s How

How food was stored before the invention of the refrigerator

Since ancient times people have used canning of food. They were smoked, salted, dried, dried, boiled in sugar syrup. In addition to these methods, there were others that not everyone knew about. Despite the fact that now every family in developed countries has a refrigerator, there are situations when this knowledge can be useful. Let’s list the most interesting.

For long storage of meat and fish they were sprinkled with salicylic acid. It was necessary to rub the powder very carefully along the bones, cartilage. Then the produce was wrapped in cloth and stored for more than two weeks. The meat and fish had to be well washed before consumption. They also used a solution of the same acid (2 teaspoons of the preparation per glass of water). It was kept in the dark place and, if necessary, the food was sprinkled with it. The meat and fish prepared in this way were stored for only a few days. If meat or fish started to smell unpleasant, they were put into water with birch coals to kill the smell and unpleasant taste.

The same salicylic acid solution was used to store eggs. Eggs were dipped into it for half an hour, then they were taken out, dried on a napkin, and then stored for half a year or even more. The salicylic acid solution was even used to preserve butter. Pieces of cloth were moistened with the solution and the oil was wrapped in them. Such oil should be rinsed under running water before use.

And vegetable oil was stored in a very interesting way: oil was poured into jars or into dark glass bottles. A little vodka was poured on the oil and the jar was covered. Vodka prevents oxygen from getting into the jar and so the oil does not go rancid.

Potatoes for long storage were boiled in salted water for five minutes, after which they were dried in the air and kept in a dark, cool place. The potatoes retained their flavor and didn’t go bad.

Sauerkraut can also be stored for a very long time, literally until the next summer. All you have to do is stick a birch stick in a barrel of cabbage!

Even mushrooms were stored for several years. They’d be doused with dilute sulfuric acid. When needed, mushrooms were taken out, washed, and consumed.

There were many ways to store such a popular vegetable as cucumber. They would stay fresh for almost a month if held with one end in spring water. The water, however, had to be changed often. But, they were preserved even longer if they were placed in clay pots and poured over with dry sand. Pots with cucumbers were buried in the ground and could be stored that way for months.

Preserving Food Without (Canning) Refrigeration with Kelley Wilkinson

The bitterness of asparagus was very simply removed by throwing a little sugar into the boiling water. Fresh asparagus was kept this way: they were wrapped in dough and oiled, so the asparagus would not spoil. Another method is to sprinkle a mixture of bran and salt.

On hot days, milk and cream were saved from souring by adding magnesia. For the same purpose, a horseradish leaf was dipped into a bowl with milk. Another method suggested covering the milk with a cloth with both ends dipped in water. Water would evaporate and keep the milk from souring. A hassle, of course, but it works!

Meat storage methods that came to us from the days when there were no refrigerators yet

Modern people do not even think about how comfortable their life has become after the invention of the refrigerator. And a few decades ago meat, fish and other perishable foods were stored without the use of cold temperatures. Of course, the usefulness of cellars was known centuries ago, but even in the deepest refrigerated room it is impossible to reach a temperature capable of causing freezing of the muscle fibers. Despite the fact that nowadays fresh meat and freezer seem to be integral parts of our lives, you should think how else you can save the product, because no one knows what will happen tomorrow.

The refrigerator: object of hatred of the “ice kings” and victim of anti-advertising

Being able to store food for a long time without worrying about its freshness is a gift of civilization that we have long overlooked. But ancient people had to get creative to at least slightly extend the shelf life of meat or perishable treats, using great ingenuity. Today we’re going to talk about how it was possible to become an “ice king,” how malaria unwittingly contributed to the modern refrigerator, and how food was stored in Russia.

It’s an inconvenience

People in ancient times understood that cold can slow down the deterioration of food and tried to use it in their everyday life. Thus, the wealthy people of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia sent their slaves to get ice in the mountains, and then, when it was delivered to the house, they carefully stored it in the basement. Greeks and Romans were very fond of ice cream, so ice was also used to make it.

By the way, in Russia long time the same way of creation of “refrigerators” also was used, and long enough. till XX century. Such underground or semi-underground premise was called an ice-box, where our ancestors kept fish, meat, vegetables, etc. д.

The “ice” business

In Petersburg in XIX century, there was “ice” business. The businessmen of those years leased lots of the Neva River and cut ice from it. It’s all brilliantly simple, but this business brought in a huge income, and sales were great: entire artels were working for the industrious “ice” entrepreneurs.

And in the US at that time there were also “ice kings” who extracted ice from lakes and rivers in winter, and then actively sold it, and not only to their fellow citizens, but also exported it to other countries. India, Brazil and even to distant Australia.

Scientific and technological approach

But ice, even stored in a dark, cool place, could not completely solve the problem of storing food, and it was often expensive. What technical inventions were available to do this?? The earliest attempts to keep food cold were to wrap storage containers in wet cloth, as ancient people did. Then, already in the Middle Ages, people tried to freeze foods with saltpeter and other chemicals, because when they dissolved in water, the heat was absorbed immediately. But it was also expensive and very inconvenient.

The first step towards the invention of the refrigerator was a machine created by William Cullen, a physician from Scotland. Cullen decided to use in a closed circuit diethyl ether that evaporated easily, boiled in one vessel at reduced pressure and took away heat, and in the other vessel it condensed again and just gave away heat. Later, a physician and inventor also used this method to make ice.

The next milestone in the development of refrigerators is commonly associated with Americans Oliver Evans and Jacob Perkins. The first obtained a patent for his detailed design of the refrigerator, but did not build it. The second, almost twenty years later, in 1834, did make the device, but it failed to interest the owners of industrial facilities, and the refrigerator was again not destined to become a widespread household item.

An anti-advertisement of the good doctor’s invention

Another step was taken by the kind and sympathetic physician John Gorey, who sincerely wished to alleviate the suffering of his patients with malaria. He created an air conditioner to cool the air in his hospital. The installation could have been easily taken into production, but all newspapers, thanks to the paid advertisement of the “ice kings”, trashed the idea, ridiculed it from all sides and the project was laid on the table completely unfairly.

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Progress is winning

But no matter how hard the businessmen profiting from the sale of ice may try, human thought, like progress, simply cannot be stopped. Innovations in refrigerator design and operational principles dribbled out of the horn of plenty. And so, in 1862, the refrigerator was first presented at an exhibition in London by Ferdinand Carré, brother of Edmond Carré, who created a device that ran on a mixture of ammonia and water.

To go bankrupt for sure, you have to make refrigerators

Then little by little refrigerators, being as yet both cumbersome and even dangerous (after all they worked on flammable and poisonous substances), nevertheless became popular, especially among owners of warehouses and food industry enterprises. But for home use the “ice box” only began to be used from 1910, though it was as expensive as a car.

In the end, the company that started making it managed to make only 40 pieces and went bankrupt. But the beginning was made and the popularity of the refrigerator began to grow more and more.

As it was before and after the war

In the USSR, however, this indispensable item in our kitchens today began to be produced only in 1937, and before the war the total output was only a few thousand pieces. During the war the country had absolutely no concern about this device, there were absolutely other tasks to be solved, the destiny of the motherland was being decided. Production of refrigerators was resumed in the early 50s and they gradually began to appear in the house of every Soviet family.

Today no one is surprised by a refrigerator, and, carelessly hanging magnets from another trip on it, we hardly ever think of the long way it has come before ending up in our kitchen. Its creation should be thankful not only to the two doctors, the two Americans, and the hatred of the “ice kings”, who only delayed the inevitable, but also to the human desire to improve our lives and fight against what was not satisfactory to us. After all, without this desire we would still be using “glaciers”. Or perhaps they even lived in caves.

Digging back in time: how food was stored in medieval Europe

Milknews continues with our Historical Digest. Today we will tell you how the inhabitants of medieval Europe stored food.

Generally speaking, the methods of food preservation did not change from the ancient times and did not undergo substantial changes until the invention of canned foods in the 19th century.

In the absence of refrigerators, and with the inability to stockpile new products from day to day (it was expensive and time-consuming), the inhabitants of medieval Europe were forced to address the issue of creating stocks in their homes for the near future. The issue was particularly acute in winter, when it was quite difficult to find fresh food. In addition, it was necessary to have a stock in case of a bad harvest to be able to live at least until the next harvest.

Therefore, the easiest way to store non-perishable products, as well as those that constantly had to be on hand at the hostess or chef (for example, salt, loaf, seasonings, etc. д.), there was a small alcove built into the wall. It was usually furnished with one or more shelves, on which dishes and bottles were placed.

The pantry was a much more reliable and capacious repository. It was a low annex to a single room in a poor peasant or town house, or a roomy room near the kitchen in the case of a rich manor or monastery.

As a rule, such storerooms were located on the side of the house that was not exposed to direct sunlight, so their contents were insured against heating. One or more dormer windows could be made in the outhouse for ventilation. Diary of a Parisian citizen notes that shutters were provided for such windows as a means of protection against fire, so that accidental sparks would not get inside through such a window. In addition, in summer in this way you could protect the contents of the pantry from pesky insects.

On wealthy estates and monasteries, where hundreds of people had to be fed at the same time, even freestanding buildings could be set aside for storing food. Grain, bacon, cheese and other supplies were kept there. Storage rooms for foodstuffs were usually situated in backyards, near other services of a rich house: bakery, laundry, wine cellar, etc. д.

In lords’ houses, the kitchen staff was obliged to make a pantry footman, who was to account for and timely replenish the stocks, to keep food fresh and to protect it from the unclean servants. In the palaces of kings or members of the nobility, there was a special kind of pantry service in the kitchen. Attic rooms could be used as a special kind of storage room where they used to store dry goods: e.g. grain or salt.

Cellars were the closest thing to a modern refrigerator. These basement or semi-basement rooms were noted for the coolness that was preserved inside even in the hottest summertime. In the simplest version, typical of peasant or poor town houses, the cellars were square or quadrangular pits dug under the floor of the main building. The cellar, as a rule, had a well-compacted floor and levelled walls, the whole interior of the underground vault could be lined with wood (to prevent fires, it was covered with plaster or plaster). Several steps led down from the ground; staircases were probably used for this purpose in poor houses. On top of the cellar closed strong cover, both to prevent penetration of warm domestic air, and of course, for safety reasons. However, for ventilation the cellar could also be equipped with a small dormer window with shutters, not different from the pantry.

The cellars of castles, monasteries, or large merchants’ houses were spacious halls with domed ceilings supported by one or more pillars. Such cellars were lined with brick or even hewn stone, thus protecting the stock inside from fires, rodents and other troubles.

Like storage rooms, cellars could be equipped with shelves, which, however, did not exclude the possibility of placing bales and barrels directly on the floor. The rich houses had not just one, but a whole enfilade of cellars or semi-underground storages, each with its own purpose.

First of all, of course, it was the wine cellars, filled with barrels, bottles and sealed jugs of local and imported wine. Equally important in the household was the meat cellar, which could accommodate a smoker and store fresh, salted or smoked meat and sausages. Such a room was often transformed into an icehouse: in Paris, for example, until the 19th century ice was brought in from the nearby mountains either by the people themselves or by hiring special people for this purpose.

Fresh meat kept longer on ice, as did fish and poultry. For sausages, hooks were driven into the walls or into the ceiling, from where they hung down and were cut off as needed.Cellars were also used to store dairy products jugs of cream, chunks of butter and heads of cheese, baskets of eggs.

Cellars and pantries completely solved the problem of storing household supplies. However, measures had to be taken to keep food appetizing and fresh for as long as possible. To this end, the Middle Ages also had techniques for drying, salting, smoking, fermenting, pickling, etc.д.

Author

Kerariel

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