How to Preserve Food Without a Refrigerator?

Lus August 29, 2011 0

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Before the Invention of The Refrigerator There Was…

Well first, what is the main function of the refrigerator…main function is to preserve foods.

So before contained an controlled low temperatures cold was used, a few different techniques were used.

Salted Pork one way to cure meat

Salted Pork one way to cure meat

Many of these techniques are still in use to this day. What am I talking about?

  • Pickling
  • Preserves
  • Canning
  • Smoking
  • Salting
  • Curing

These are just a few examples of the many ways food was and still is preserved. These techniques clearly do not use any means of cooling to preserve foods.

Pickled Veggies

Pickled Veggies

Throughout history, cellars, cold rooms or cantina’s as they’re called in Italian were used to preserve foods. Underground cellars were lined with natural insulation such as straw and ice and snow was stored inside. Cellars were and still are very effective methods and are used to preserve food year round.

A Cantina or Cellar...also more popularly known as a wine cellar

A Cantina or Cellar...also more popularly known as a wine cellar

Another interesting one is an Ice House…yes you read correctly and no it’s not a house made of ice…an Ice House was used to store harvested naturally formed ice from colder regions of a country. Towns used these Ice Houses to protect and preserve all types of foods, but most often meat.

No this is not an Ice House...this is a house covered in ice...

No this is not an Ice House...this is a house covered in ice...

Ice Boxes were just what they sound like, a box where you would store ice and in effect would store your food that needed to be preserved. These were affordable and small enough to contain in a home, this is probably the closest predecessor of the refrigerator.

Ice boxes preserve foods in homes as opposed to outdoor refrigeration seen in ice houses and cellars. The ice had to be replaced daily and the water pan emptied daily as well. There was a whole industry which surrounded this “appliance”, where ice delivery men would come and deliver your block of ice. Similar to the milk man I guess…ah simpler times, when the milk wasn’t pasteurized beyond nutritional value and the ice had to be replaced daily…

Ice Box

Ice Box

Why is it cool: What’s cool here is human ingenuity. Because with a few basic non-technical ideas and materials people were able to begin the path to food preservation. Again the fact that many of these techniques are still applied today speaks volumes of how effective they really are.

Where can I get one: I don’t know where you can get an ice box or the ice to replace it with on a daily basis, but you can learn to salt, can, preserve, pickle your food just about anywhere…the internets are your friend.

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