How was meat stored when there were no refrigerators?

How was meat stored when there were no refrigerators?

How was meat stored in the days when there were no refrigerators and what methods are used to this day? Storing meat without a refrigerator is possible, but for this the product must be processed or placed in a low temperature environment.

People have been making food supplies for a long time. Even when refrigerators did not exist yet, they managed to preserve food for a long time. These methods can be used today, in case the refrigerator breaks down or you need to store a large amount of food for future use.

Special conditions are required for storing meat; at room temperature it will become unusable in just a day, and even less in the heat. Modern housewives can successfully use the experience of their ancestors to preserve the freshness, taste and benefits of meat products without a refrigerator.

How to keep meat short

To preserve meat for several days, for example, on a hike or if the refrigerator breaks down or the electricity is cut off, you can use natural conservatives:

  • Acids;
  • Salt;
  • Black pepper;
  • Garlic.
  • You can also cook or roast the food over the fire for a few minutes. For conservation in nature, it is recommended to build a temporary cellar.


You can use a container with ice cubes to store meat products in the heat. They will remain fresh until all the ice has melted. If the container is additionally wrapped in a thick blanket or towel, then heating will occur more slowly. This option is suitable for those who need to transport meat from urban conditions to natural conditions or the lack of benefits of civilization.

In this form, the meat can be stored for a period from several hours to 2-3 days, depending on the ambient temperature. Fresh lamb and beef are kept in ice for the longest time.


If you rub the meat pieces abundantly with melted pork or lamb fat, the product will not spoil within 3-4 days. After processing, the meat must be wrapped in parchment paper and placed in a cool place. Fat forms a dense protection against external factors: insects and bacteria, so the meat will not spoil.


You can create a protective barrier against bacteria by partially boiling the pieces. To do this, the meat must be dipped in salted boiling water for a few minutes. Boil ram and bull meat for 3 minutes. Veal and pork – 1 minute. For storage, the product must be packed and placed in a ventilated place.

By the same principle, you can keep the meat by roasting over an open fire until golden brown. The product prepared in this way can be used to prepare the first and second courses.Spices, acid, salt or cooking will prolong the life of the meat

Horseradish and nettles

To keep the meat for 2-3 days, you can overlay it with nettle leaves or grate with chopped horseradish root. After that, the pieces should be wrapped in a damp towel and placed in a deep dish, covered with a lid. This product will best be stored in a cool, dark place.


Acetic acid is an excellent preservative. If you soak a towel with it and wrap it around pieces of meat, the product will last for 4-5 days. Lemon juice works in a similar way. The acids in these foods neutralize bacteria. Before cooking, the meat must be washed or soaked in cold water for a couple of hours.


This product will keep the meat for 2 days. The pieces must be placed in a deep bowl and filled with milk so that all the pieces disappear into the liquid. Cover tightly and store in a cool place. Before cooking, the meat just needs to be washed under running water.


Liquid honey can be used as a natural preservative. This product will prevent bacteria from multiplying, which means the meat will stay fresh. Pieces of beef or pork can be brushed or covered with honey. It is not necessary to wash off the honey before cooking, it will give the finished dish a spicy sweetish aftertaste.


Salt is one of the best preservatives. Meat can be stored in steep saline or rubbed with coarse dry salt.

To prepare the solution, you will need 2 liters of cool water and salt. Pieces weighing no more than 200 g should be wrapped in parchment paper, placed in a saucepan and filled with the resulting solution.

A deep container is required to store in dry salt. Pieces need to be grated well or laid in rows and sprinkled with salt each.

With these methods, you can save the product for up to 7 days. Before cooking, the meat should be soaked in cold water for several hours to remove excess salt. The water should be changed every hour. Topping up the dish, most likely, will not be necessary.

General recommendations

All of the above methods can be used to preserve meat for several days, but they cannot give a full guarantee of the freshness of the product. Meat can spoil if the temperature is too high, the amount of preservative is not enough, or because it was already spoiled at the time of processing.

To maximize the freshness of the product, you should adhere to the following rules:

  • Do not use cellophane bags – meat quickly deteriorates in them;
  • It is better to store the pieces in a towel, parchment paper or an enamel saucepan;
  • In nature, you can build a small cellar in the ground – dig a hole, put a container with meat in it and cover it with spruce branches so that sunlight does not get inside;
  • If there is a spring nearby, you can place the pot directly in running water.

Spoiled meat will show itself by discoloration – it will become gray, an unpleasant characteristic odor and the formation of mucus between the pieces. In the presence of these signs, the product should not be eaten.Our ancestors invented many ways to preserve meat for a long time.

How to preserve meat for a long time

Our ancestors made meat reserves in the autumn, as it is much easier to keep food in the cold season. Many methods are still used today.

Some types of meat dishes that were prepared several centuries ago are considered delicacies today. Their preparation is lengthy, but any housewife can handle the process. How our ancestors stored meat before the era of refrigerators – we present common recipes.

Corned beef

The easiest way to preserve meat for more than a month. The pieces can be poured over with steep brine or the rows in the jar can be sprinkled with layers of coarse dry salt. If desired, you can add any spices and herbs to the meat.

To prepare the brine, you will need several liters of cold boiled water (the exact amount depends on the weight of the meat) and 30 grams each. salt for every liter. A jar of corned beef should be placed in a dark and cool place for a month, for example, in a cellar.

After 30 days, you can taste the product. The corned beef is cut into thin slices and served with garlic.


To preserve the meat for a couple of months, it can be dried. To begin with, the pieces need to be prepared: rinse, dip with a towel and cut off all the fat from them, if this is not done, the product will taste bitter. Then the meat must be very thinly cut (into pieces of 2-3 mm thick) and dried well. It is possible in the sun, but this method is not very hygienic; it is better to use a dryer.

You need to dry it at a temperature of 75 degrees for about 16-20 hours. The meat pieces should be completely dry. It must be stored in a sealed package, preferably vacuum, at room temperature.This dish is still very popular now.

Canned food

An ordinary stew was prepared from meat with a minimum of spices and seasonings. Such a product can be preserved in jars and stored for several months, the main thing is to prepare it correctly.

Canned meat recipe:

  1. Cut pork, beef or other meat into 3×3 cm pieces, place in a saucepan and cover with water.
  2. Cook with salt and spices until the meat breaks down into fibers. Average 6 hours. Beef and horse meat are cooked the longest, chicken is the fastest.
  3. Sterilize jars and lids.
  4. Put the hot meat in a container and pour over the broth.
  5. Close hermetically with lids.
  6. Wrap the jars in a blanket to cool slowly.

The product can be stored all winter in a cool cellar or in the refrigerator. Stew should not be eaten if it has changed the smell or if the lid is swollen.Everyone loves jamon – a kind of jerky


Jamon is meat prepared by jerking according to a special recipe. This is a Spanish dish, but its counterparts can be found in many countries around the world.

Jamon is made from a whole pork leg. First, it is covered with salt and kept until all moisture comes out of the meat, on average, 1 day of salting is required for each kilogram of ham.

Then the drying phase begins. It can take anywhere from 6 to 36 months, depending on the climate and the weight of the ham. It is advisable to start the drying process in winter and gradually increase the temperature. To do this, the meat is suspended so that air circulates freely around the entire piece.

After drying, the meat is sent to the cellar for ripening. Also in a hanging position, the meat can ripen for several more months. When the ham is done, it is cut into very thin slices. After breaking the integrity of the product, it can be stored for no more than 5 months. The cut site must be treated with olive oil each time.Lamb and beef stay fresh longer on ice

Storage in an ice cellar

Our ancestors knew how to store meat. At the same time, it remained fresh, and no preservatives were required.

They made the refrigerating chambers with their own hands in the cellar. Straw was covered at the bottom of the earthen hole. In winter or spring, ice blocks were brought in from lakes or rivers and laid on the floor of the cellar.

Dried, smoked or fresh meat was placed on top of ice or between blocks. The cellar lid was well covered with a thick cloth in several layers so that warm air did not penetrate inside. This way it was possible to preserve the meat for the whole summer. The ice was gradually melting, but the temperature still did not rise above -5 ˚C.

The methods of preserving meat products that have been used by people for centuries are still relevant today. Some dishes can be adopted by ordinary housewives, others are served only in expensive restaurants. Nevertheless, we have made sure that it is quite possible to keep meat without a refrigerator for a rather long time.

How to keep meat out of the refrigerator for a long or short period | My kitchen

In modern everyday life, having a refrigerator does not seem like a luxury. The use of low temperatures is perhaps the most popular way to preserve meat and meat products.

If an unforeseen situation arises and you have to do without these convenient assistants, there is nothing left but to call on centuries of experience for help, because the methods of preserving meat before the appearance of freezers worried our ancestors no less.

How to keep fresh meat out of the refrigerator

Meat will not be stored in an exceptionally fresh state for long, this should be understood before choosing long-term or short-term methods. In any case, the lower the temperature in the place where the meat is stored, the longer it will not go bad.

The second thing that must be done is to exclude the effects of microorganisms and insects. Before storing meat without a refrigerator, surface treatment is carried out, and measures are taken to exclude such spoilage of products.

Subject to the conditions already mentioned, it will be necessary to achieve a sufficient supply of fresh air. It is not necessary to arrange a round-the-clock draft in the room, but there should also be no stagnation of air.

Having provided the above conditions, we proceed to the processing of meat. Before storing meat without freezing, it is worth taking all available methods to extend the shelf life. We’ll talk about special conservation methods further, but here’s what you can do to win extra hours and even days:

  1. Cut the flesh from the seeds. It is in the places where meat adheres to bones that putrefactive processes most often begin.
  2. Rinse the pulp. Storing meat without a refrigerator requires maximum cleanliness and dryness of the product, therefore, after washing the slices, dry them thoroughly.
  3. To reduce the impact of the environment, rub the meat with vinegar, taking a regular table-strength solution (9%). So, lemon juice is good for this, simply rub the cut with citrus slices.


All processing methods in this part of the article are associated with inevitable damage to part of the product. The top layer of the pulp will differ in color, as a rule, it will become darker, and noticeably harder, it will have to be cut off. If you need the meat earlier than the shelf life has expired, you can try soaking the slice for some time in slightly salted water.

See also:   Glycerin from fogging windows in the house: how to use it to get rid of condensation

To create a layer impervious to harmful organisms, before storing the meat without a refrigerator in the summer, you can rub the slices with a salicylic acid solution and even wrap them in a towel soaked in this composition.

After thoroughly drying the meat after washing, and still creating a rather low temperature, you can sprinkle the pieces with a thin layer of coarse salt. Of course, the meat will absorb some of the salt, but at the same time it will not become corned beef.

It can be cooked, depending on the storage time, by slightly soaking or even cutting off the salted crust, or by slicing with the salted layer and cooking, reducing the amount of salt in the recipe.

How to keep fresh meat in the refrigerator without freezing? Exactly the same as we have just described.

It should be borne in mind that at temperatures of the order of +20 degrees, and above, the meat is stored even processed from strength for a couple of days. Longer shelf life is achieved by lowering the temperature.

Accordingly, if the freezer is already full, then put the meat in the common compartment after processing.

Methods for storing meat without a refrigerator

All of the following methods of saving valuable products already belong to partial conservation. A good way to give the meat an extra day of storage is to boil small (up to 200 grams) slices in brine. Dissolve exactly 30 grams of salt in boiling water, dip pieces of meat in the brine for two minutes. Then we cool them down and dry them with a towel, hang them in a ventilated area in gauze bags.

A similar effect is achieved by thickly greasing dry slices with melted lard, before storing the meat without a refrigerator for a long time. Then the blanks are wrapped with cooking paper and laid out freely in one row over a spacious dish. It is very desirable to shift and turn the meat once a day.

A way proven by thousands of years of experience how to store meat without a refrigerator for a long time is to cook corned beef. Over the centuries, mankind has learned to create temperatures close to -200 degrees, but nothing more reliable than strong salting has not been invented.

Choose a recipe that best suits the type of meat you have. There are dozens of descriptions of salting compositions, including not only salt, but also various aromatic additives from natural spices. Prepare meat in this way and soak before use, serve as slices or use for cooking.

How in Russia they kept the freshness of food without refrigerators

Refrigerators appeared in Russia only in 1901. Before this truly revolutionary invention, our ancestors resorted to very clever ways of storing food – from frogs in milk and birch sticks in cabbage to wells and glaciers.

Factrum has collected the most interesting ways to store food in Russia.

Drying and drying products began from time immemorial. This way of preserving food for a long time helped the Slavs greatly, not only in the long winter months, but also during periods of poor harvest and hunting failures. Dried berries and mushrooms, vegetables and root vegetables. The meat and fish were thinly sliced, salted and kept in a draft – this way the food was kept for several months.

Salt became a real salvation in the struggle for food storage, which is why it was so appreciated in Russia. Everyone’s favorite pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, sauerkraut, mushrooms and other pickles – all these are delicious “consequences” of searches for long-term storage of stocks.

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

By the way, fabric was also used everywhere for the safety of food: it was noticed that natural cooling occurs when the liquid evaporates, so bottles and other containers were wrapped with wet cuts and tried to keep them in ventilated rooms.

Non-standard ways of storing food in Russia

Favorite Slavic vegetable – cabbage – was not just fermented for preservation. Birch sticks helped to store it for six months or longer. They were simply stuck into barrels of fermented foods.

An interesting storage method, which is still used in some Russian villages, existed for fresh cucumbers: they were placed at one end in spring water and changed regularly. Another way to store the vegetable is in clay pots with sand.

At the same time, the vessels were buried in a cool place and thus kept the freshness of the cucumbers for more than one month.

For preservation, mushrooms were often poured with dilute sulfuric acid, they were thoroughly washed and scalded before use. Magnesia carbonate was added to milk and cream during the hot season. For the same purpose, they could throw a frog and a horseradish leaf there.

For less extreme storage of dairy products, women in Russia covered jugs of milk with a cloth, the ends of which were dipped in water. When the water evaporated, the milk remained sour for a little longer.

Glaciers and cold cellars

Of course, they used natural methods and places for the safety of food: they collected ice from rivers and lakes in winter and stored it in special glacier pits and cellars. In cities, however, prototypes of refrigerators were invented – special cabinets with pallets that were filled with ice. As it thawed, the ice dripped into the trays, and the food stayed fresher longer.

The ice trade in Russia was one of the most prosperous. Merchants filled the holds with huge chunks of ice and made a lot of money on this product.

The most efficient storage method was, of course, glaciers. They were given a place of honor.

The floor of such a room was necessarily covered with straw and shavings, a layer of ice collected in winter was laid on top, and another layer of straw and tarpaulin on top of the ice.

In such a natural “refrigerator” even in summer the temperature was kept up to -5 degrees. The ice gradually melted, it was absorbed by the straw and the earthen floor, so the glacier was always not only cool, but also dry.

Sometimes blocks of ice remained until the next winter, then they took it out into the street and froze it, and in the spring they again laid glaciers with it. Products in such rooms were usually stored in barrels, and even chickens and geese were placed in tubs. Carcasses of venison, bear meat, wild boar were kept whole – in cloth or straw, sour cream and cottage cheese – in cakes, butter – in pots with salted water, fish – in baskets.

Old recipes for storing meat

  • Kozinets Egor
  • 08/05/2018 at 8:48
  • Since ancient times, products, in the absence of a refrigerator, were stored in a clean, cold and dry cellar.
  • To protect it from the penetration of warm air and sunlight, in the summer its windows are laid with fresh turf, which is often sprinkled with cold water.
  • During the day, during intense heat, the windows are closed with shutters, but at night they are opened again by inserting frames covered with fine lattice (gauze) into them and into the doors so that insects cannot fly in.

Thus, the cellar, in which there is no ice, is cooled by a draft at night. To keep the cellar cool, the floor of the cellar is often sprayed with cold water and vinegar.

It is believed that meat is better preserved in winter than in summer. This is indeed the case; During dry and moderately cold winters, unfrozen meat can remain fresh for quite some time. But if it was frozen in pairs, not yet dry after slaughter and skinning, then after defrosting it deteriorates as quickly as in summer.

In damp weather, the meat absorbs a large amount of excess moisture, becomes soft and deteriorates much earlier than usual. This happens especially quickly in hot summer and during thunderstorms. But even in the hottest and stormy summer in a dry, cold enough, well-ventilated and clean room, it can persist for 5-6 days without any signs of deterioration.

  1. Meat storage methods.
  2. However, for a longer storage of meat, the presence of a cold cellar is clearly not enough.
  3. To do this, our inventive ancestors came up with many simple and at the same time effective ways.
  4. Meat is best stored, chopped into large pieces and suspended so that the pieces do not come into contact with anything, and free air access is provided to everyone from all sides.
  5. It is not scary to store meat for 2-3 days in the cold, but it should be placed not on a wooden board, which absorbs the juice flowing from it, but on an enamel, stone or porcelain plate.

The ancient way of storing meat with coal is very effective. Ordinary birch coals are cleaned of ash, pounded, then washed with water, dried and ignited. Meat intended for storage is wiped dry, sprinkled with crushed coal on all sides so that it evenly covers the entire surface, wrapped tightly with a clean canvas, tied with a rope and hung in a cool place.

Meat “packed” in this way remains fresh and juicy for several weeks. Before use, each piece is washed in several waters in order to cleanse coal particles adhering to it. Game and poultry meat can be stored in the same way.

  • Even the meat that has begun to deteriorate becomes fresh again if it is immersed in water and a few hot coals are immersed in it, or, before cooking, it is washed with water, in which several handfuls of crushed charcoal are stirred, and then rinsed thoroughly in clean water.
  • Within 10-12 days, the meat will retain its freshness if it is cut into pieces of no more than 1.5 kg, folded into an earthenware or wooden dish and sprinkled first with salt and then with charcoal powder in a layer 1-2 fingers thick.
  • Before use, it should be thoroughly rinsed in running water (or in several waters).

The meat is stored for quite a long time if it is wrapped in a towel dipped in a strong infusion of vinegar with coarsely crushed pepper, and then hung in the cellar so that it does not touch anything. The towel is changed daily, each time soaking with infusion.

Meat and game storage methods.

You can wrap a piece of meat on all sides first with stinging nettles, grass with oak tree or dragoon, and then with a towel, and sprinkle with bread wine or put in tubs with millet or sand and leave in a cold place.

Meat is well preserved if immersed in cold skim milk. On the first day, milk is changed twice, on the next – once a day.

Even slightly spoiled meat becomes quite edible if kept in sour milk. It draws blood from the meat and makes it soft, without changing the natural taste.

However, in no case should whey be used for this, because it “infects” the meat with its acid. Meat stored in sour milk should be kept a little in cold water before cooking.

For several weeks, steamed meat will remain completely fresh and juicy if it is poured with wine yeast and placed in a cold place.

And if a piece of meat is wrapped in a large linen rag and placed in a “bread heap” (covered with grain), it will not only be perfectly preserved for several weeks, but will be especially soft during cooking.

The meat is placed in a box filled with beech ash or bran and placed in a dry, ventilated place. As already mentioned, meat (by the way, milk) spoils faster during a thunderstorm than on ordinary days. In this case, old house books recommend using a kind of lightning rod – to put stinging nettles over the meat and stick a knife, fork or other metal object into it.

Hares (rabbits) and other game, killed in January or February, are well kept fresh until May, if not gutted carcasses are buried in the grain poured into a wooden tub to a depth of 50 cm, but so that they do not reach the bottom. Gutted carcasses are stuffed with bread, sewn up and buried in grain (grain) heaps.

Grouses, partridges, hazel grouses and other game are stored as follows: the carcass is plucked, gutted, freed from the eyes and brains, the inner cavity is wiped with a towel and stuffed with coarsely crushed dry juniper berries.

Each carcass is wrapped in a clean towel and placed in a tub with rye poured onto the bottom so that the carcasses do not touch. From above they are covered with grain at least 70 cm. Rye can be replaced with sifted ash.

How to store meat for years without a refrigerator

Since the time when the first humans on Earth were engaged in primitive hunting and gathering, their very survival may often depend on whether they could save meat – their main source of protein – for a rainy day.

And they did it! In winter, they buried part of their prey in the snow, and in the hot summer they dried it to a crunch in the scorching sun.

This helped them to survive from year to year – in fact, it is precisely due to the fact that at one time they succeeded, you are reading this article now.

Yes, the methods of preparing the meat of primitive man may seem rather crude to us – but they work, and are successfully used even now. The only difference is that our technological progress has saved us from having to rely on the grace of nature for this.

Even now, when it would seem that both fresh and canned meat are available to us all year round, keeping a stock of prepared meat with your own hands at home may not be such a bad idea – you never know what may await you tomorrow. In addition, in the modern world, storing meat for future use means knowing exactly what will end up on your plate.

See also:   Can a plastic, metal and wood harmonica be washed? proper care


The ideal way to preserve meat without any chemicals is to dry it to the point where microbes cannot grow.

The traditional way to do this is to dry thin strips of meat in the sun, but since we live in the 21st century, I would advise you to use an electric dryer – it’s both faster and safer.

Cut the meat to your liking – along the grain, in the style of traditional dried meat, or across to get a kind of meat chips, but the pieces should be very thin so that the meat dries not only on the outside, but also on the inside.

In the case of long-term storage of meat, the fat in it can turn rancid, and therefore try to clean the meat from the skin and fats before cutting, and then cut it into pieces no more than 5-6 millimeters thick. I advise you to choose lean beef or chicken breast for drying – they have the least amount of fat.

Set your dryer to 75 degrees Celsius, ideal for killing harmful bacteria (such as Salmonella and E. coli) from meat strips. To protect yourself even more, preheat the meat in the oven at 120 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes.

To dry the meat sufficiently, leave it in the dryer for 16-20 hours, then pack it in tight-fitting containers (but do not fill them to the eyeballs). In this form at room temperature, it can be stored for up to two months.

If you want to keep the meat for a longer period, put it in the refrigerator, or use a vacuum seal.


Ordinary table salt perfectly removes excess moisture from meat, besides, the storage of salted meat is facilitated by the fact that salt is an antibacterial substance. There are two main methods of salting meat – dry and wet salting. Rubbing salt on the meat and letting it absorb moisture will create a dry product.

The process is quite simple – it is enough to mix the meat and salt in the correct proportions, however, various herbs and spices are often used to give the meat a pleasant taste. With wet salting, the meat is salted in brine. You can add brown sugar or honey to the brine to make it tastier.

Another traditional process called biltong involves marinating meat in vinegar before salting and drying.

As a rule, the corned beef sold in stores contains certain additives that improve the taste and appearance of the finished product – but if you make the corned beef yourself, you can easily get by by salting the meat with pure salt without any additives.

You can, of course, buy a special salting salt that contains about 6 percent sodium nitrite, a chemical that provides some protection against botulism – however, if you exceed the recommended dosage, it will not end well for you.

The recommended amount of salt for making brine is 30 grams per liter of water.


If you want to stock up on meat for a long time, the best way to do this is to preserve it. Properly cooked canned meats can last at room temperature for years, and if you really want to prepare for a possible crisis, canning is your choice.

What is canning? In general, this is just sterilization of food in a hermetically sealed container that can protect the food inside from external influences.

For preservation, you will need cans, preservation lids, a tool for “rolling” cans, as well as a sterilizer capable of evenly heating the contents of the can under high pressure.

Of course, you can sterilize jars the way our grandparents did by boiling them in water, but modern research shows that this is not so safe, especially for meat. Preservation of meat is “hot” and “cold”.

“Hot” preservation

With this method, meat is pre-cooked with salt and spices before being rolled into jars.

When the meat is about two-thirds ready, transfer it to preheated jars, and then pour the broth, leaving three centimeters on top of the free space.

Check for large air bubbles in the jar and release them with a long knitting needle, then wipe them dry, roll up the lids and place in the sterilizer.

Cold preservation

With this method, jars are filled with pieces of raw meat with the addition of salt. With this method, the meat is not poured with broth or liquid, but during processing it itself releases a certain amount of liquid during processing in a sterilizer. This preservation method requires a longer processing time.

The pressure and time required to process will depend on the altitude you are at and the amount of meat being processed at a time.

To make ready-made canned food safe for health, check the lids on the cans – they must seal the cans tightly.

Tinned meat does not need to be refrigerated, but it is best to keep it cool for several years.

Safety first

Whichever method you use, its success primarily depends on how high-quality meat you use.

Always choose the freshest meat, and start processing immediately, and if this is not possible, keep it in the refrigerator until processing.

Try to follow the recipes thoroughly, and if the processed meat begins to look suspicious, or the cans of canned food are bloated, it is better to throw it away.

How food was stored before the refrigerator appeared

The refrigerator was patented on August 8, 1899. This, of course, was a breakthrough. How was food stored before this invention?

Keeping food fresh until recently (namely, before the advent of the refrigerator) was one of the most important tasks of mankind. The products were salted, fermented, dried, stewed.

We still use all these methods, especially in summer, when it is time to roll cucumbers and boil jam in basins.

Actually, many recipes were born out of the need to preserve products outside the summer season, hence the peculiarities of cuisines in different countries.

Our great-great-grandparents had other ways to preserve food. Methods that have been forgotten with the advent of the refrigerator. Here are some interesting tricks we used to keep meat and other foods fresh.

In ice

In villages (and in cities too, although it was more difficult), glaciers were made. In winter, food was stored simply in a cellar, dug to a certain depth and insulated as best as possible. Or they took them out into the hallway, outside, where it is cold.

But with the arrival of spring, when warm days came, it was already impossible to preserve meat and milk. Therefore, during the winter and early spring, ice was chopped on rivers, lakes and ponds. The pieces were needed large enough. This ice was brought into the cellar and laid with straw (not hay!).

The top of the cellar was also covered with straw so that the cold would not go away. On such a glacier, food could be stored until mid-summer. And sometimes longer.

In clay

Earthen containers were used for storing (as well as for carrying) food. They were cooled with liquid: they were simply wrapped in a cloth soaked in cold water.

To keep the cold longer, it was necessary to constantly wet the cooling matter. Sometimes two containers were used: cold water was poured into a large one, food was put into a smaller one and the containers were placed one into the other.

By the way, proto-refrigerators were made according to the same principle in hot countries: in Persia, in India.

In the well

The water is in the well below ground level, so it stays very cold even on hot days. So the well could also be used as a refrigerating chamber, the main thing is to properly wrap the product so that it does not spoil the water.

This method did not save our ancestors for a long time, the meat could only be saved for a few days. But the well can help in the country if the electricity is turned off.

By the way, if you fill the cucumbers with well water and change it every day, then they will lie for at least a month and will not wither.

In the coal

It turns out that coal has preservative properties. Our ancestors knew this very well. They stored meat in crushed birch coals. First, the meat was rolled in coal, then it was wrapped in a blank canvas and hung in a cool place. This meat was stored for several weeks.

They also put the meat in boxes with ash, left it in a dry, ventilated room: this also worked. There was also a way to resuscitate meat that had begun to deteriorate: it was necessary to wash it, place it in cold water, throwing a few hot coals there.

In grain

The meat was wrapped in nettle leaves (by the way, it is an excellent food keeper), then in a towel, sprinkled with bread wine (vodka) and buried in a tub of millet or grain. It was believed that the grain still makes the meat very soft.

In vinegar

The meat was sprinkled with crushed pepper, and then wrapped in a towel dipped in vinegar. So they hung in a cool place (in the cellar): the main thing is that the bundle does not touch anything. Only the towel needs to be changed every day, then the meat will last a couple of weeks.

In milk

It turns out that to keep the meat fresh, it can be stored in cold, skimmed (i.e. no cream on top) milk. Milk needs to be changed constantly. On the first day – twice, then – once a day.

By the way, sour milk can save meat that has started to spoil. It draws blood and all unpleasant odors out of the meat. You just need to hold a piece of meat in sour milk, and then put it into water for a couple of hours.

In horseradish

Horseradish helped preserve milk, although it changed its taste. Horseradish leaves were simply placed in earthenware with milk. But horseradish leaves are generally excellent at disinfecting and protecting against mold. They can cover pickled cucumbers and tomatoes, pickled both in jars and in pots or barrels. Leaves can be used to wrap pieces of meat, cottage cheese.

In honey

One of the best preservatives is honey. It can be stored for years and at the same time retain its useful properties, it will help to preserve fruit.

If you pour food on them, you get something like a jam that will stand for a very long time.

The fact is that thick honey prevents oxygen from reaching the food, thus greatly slowing down the decomposition process, in addition, it has antibacterial properties.

How our great-grandmothers kept food without refrigerators and electricity

How difficult it is for modern people to understand their ancestors, who dispensed with technological creations. And how did they manage to keep food fresh when there were no refrigerators … And is it possible? Yes, quite, and for this there were simple and affordable ways.

How our ancestors saved food

The refrigerator, irreplaceable for us, was created over 100 years ago. At first, only a rich person could afford an expensive machine. Over time, more and more companies began to produce them. And, despite the fact that a high-quality unit is not cheap now, it is an important component of every home.

Imagine a situation – the electricity is cut off, the refrigerator is broken, or there is no room for additional food. And you need to save them – what to do? After all, it is not always possible to quickly run to the market and purchase an additional unit. The most correct thing is to pay attention to the folk wisdom accumulated over the centuries and resort to simple advice.

There are different types of food preservation besides the refrigerator:

  • use of the cellar, where the optimum temperature is maintained;
  • conservation;
  • drying.

We all know that underground temperatures are lower than on the surface. For this reason, in the old days, our great-grandmothers, like modern villagers, dug deep cellars, in which the temperature remained at about 0 degrees. At the same time, the products were neither frozen nor spoiled. But only fruits, vegetables, cereals, butter, eggs, milk could be stored in them.

How perishable food was stored

As for the quickly spoiling ready-made meals, the cellar was not quite suitable here. Microbes in them stop multiplying only at sub-zero temperatures.

Therefore, they did not cook much, but enough so that every member of the family was satisfied and there was nothing left. The next day, fresh meals were prepared.

If there were leftovers of food – porridge, potatoes, they were added when cooking the same pancakes, pies, pies, etc.

In the old days, in the absence of refrigerators, electricity and seaming lids, housewives chose another optimal and useful form of preserving food – salting. And now we all enjoy the sauerkraut, tomato and cabbage prepared according to the same recipes. Previously, for this, it was enough to put washed vegetables into cold well water, with the addition of salt.

Sweet fruits – apricots, quince, apples and other names were kept in the form of jam. Sugar was rare, so sweet herbs were added during cooking and mixed with honey.

Drying is still one of the best preservation methods. If geography allows, you can arrange the same fruits and vegetables in sliced ​​form on the roof under the hot sun.

Where was the meat stored

Beef, pork, rabbit, chicken or any other kind are all perishable foods in which dangerous microbes multiply rapidly. And there were several ways to store them without a refrigerator.

  • Distributed to neighbors. There was a custom – the pig was slaughtered at a certain time and shared with relatives, relatives or neighbors, and they remembered who got what piece. Then, when the turn came for those with whom he shared, the “favor” returned. That is, people tried to help each other. It should be understood that meat was used not so often, but only for big holidays or was cooked only for a sick, weak person.
  • Drying – the meat was boiled in brine (very salty water), hung in the hot sun, covered with a thin cloth and dried.
  • Stew. The meat was stewed in the oven for a long time, and when finished, it was laid out in containers, poured with boiling bacon and brought into the cellar. Fat did not give air access, and in a vacuum, bacteria had no chance of reproduction.

Where did they get ice without refrigerators and electricity?

It turns out that it is not necessary to have a refrigeration unit to get ice even in the hot season. Our ancestors made a deep hole, covered it with straw, shavings, and carefully dried the surface. And when the cold came, they collected large blocks of ice from the rivers and piled them in the same pit.

Blankets, bales of hay and straw were laid on top so that the heat did not penetrate deeply, and the ice remained even on summer days. And if it did melt, it was very slow, which made it possible to use it as a natural refrigerator.

Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, smoked meats and pickles were put into it.

How did people live without refrigerators before?

It seems that there have always been refrigerators. Nevertheless, the kitchen helper familiar to the layman is about 100 years old. And then the “novelty” received widespread distribution 10 years after the end of World War II, in the 50-60s of the twentieth century.

At first, they were small, table-high boxes with an ice compartment and a tray. Then the refrigerator acquired its classic shape and familiar functions. Yes, mankind has long had ways of storing food for a long time: smoking, canning and pickling, but how was everyday food stored without refrigerators?

Modernity, at the dawn of the appearance of refrigerators (40-50 years of the USSR)

Urban weekdays

The city dwellers of those years did not make purchases for many days in advance. Meat, fresh fish and boiled sausage were taken a little, cooked and eaten right away. The leftovers from the supper, cookies and sweets, vegetable oils were put away in dressers and sideboards. Previously, these furnishings were large, with many compartments and drawers that were locked with a key. Of course, it was not cold there. Doors without glass blocked daylight and sunlight, slowing down the deterioration of food.

The remaining or purchased salted fish was poured with vegetable oil. It did not allow the oxygen necessary for the reproduction of putrefactive bacteria to pass through, keeping the product fresh. The smoked sausage was simply hung by the stove. The rocking chair gradually dried out, but did not disappear.

They did it differently with milk and butter. The first was tormented, the second was reheated, removing excess moisture. Even in the heat, processed dairy products did not spoil for several days. The main thing is not to leave them in the light. The pots with borscht and soup were placed in a large container filled with cold water. As it was heated, it was changed to a fresh one.

In winter, late autumn and early spring it was easier. Perishable food was wrapped in paper, put in shopping bags or bags and hung out on the street through the vents, carried out onto the balconies.

In the houses under construction, there were places for seasonal “cold rooms”. They were placed under the windowsills in kitchens, leaving a hole in the concrete leading to the street.

The temperature was regulated by the usual plugging of the hole with rags and paper.

Food storage in rural areas before refrigerators appeared

It was easier for villagers or private house owners. Somewhere in the courtyard, cellars were dug out, an underground was equipped. The prepared dishes were taken out into the cool of the dungeon. There were also barrels of salted poultry meat and lard, pork hams hung, tubs of ready-made homemade sausages filled with lard were crowded.

More resourceful and resourceful peasants prepared for summer in winter. Poultry and livestock that had been slaughtered in the fall, which had escaped salting, were placed in the glacier.

It was a lined with wooden planks or an earthen hole filled with ice cut into the river. The roof of a kind of freezer was served by a lyada that did not let in heat – thick boards knocked together.

Sawdust or earth was poured on top of it, adding to the tightness of the structure.

Homemade cheeses were made from surplus milk. The curd mass was placed in a dense cloth, suspended from the bars to remove the serum. The formed circles were dipped into brine – a saline solution of strong concentration. Before use, they were soaked in milk or pure water.

Middle Ages

In ancient times, the city was fed by the village. Almost every day, merchants flocked to the square, carrying a variety of food on carts. Chickens, ducks, geese were delivered live in summer and frozen in winter.

The pork was smoked and dried, the carcasses of the birds were covered with salt and dried. Game was salted in barrels, preparing corned beef. We stored food in so-called crates under the main buildings or in storerooms.

Special rooms were kept dark, located away from heated buildings and ovens used for cooking.

Sausages have been cooked at all times. Smoked products were hung from the beams of the cellars or underground. Wooden and clay containers were used to store food.

The boiled and fried ones were put in pots, pouring them with melted internal fat. He prevented the penetration of air to the delicacy, keeping the sausage edible for up to six months (until the fat rancid).

Methods for arranging glaciers, pickling with vinegar, salting and drying fish came from the same era.

Influence of the invention of the refrigerator on consumption

The mass production of refrigerators has changed the entire food system of mankind. And today there are countries whose populations do without these units. For example, Egypt. Here residents buy food for one day from the Bedouins. Aboriginal people consider long-term storage of fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat detrimental to health. But this is more the exception than the rule.

Industrial refrigerators have everywhere replaced basements and once popular heaps, vegetable pits and warehouses. In them, it is much easier to maintain an ideal microclimate for a particular vegetable and fruit. Thus, humanity was able to consume fresh food all year round without fabulous costs and millions of losses.

Together with the shock freezing system, semi-finished products, a variety of meats and vegetables of the highest quality came to the table of a modern gourmet. The home menu of residents far from the water surface has been replenished with ocean fish and shellfish. Self-contained refrigerators have allowed consumers to enjoy chilled, rather than completely frozen, meat and fish delicacies.

The invention of refrigerators changed the approach to organizing everyday life and expanding the daily range of available products for every inhabitant of the Earth.

Prior to this, purchasing milk, meat or fresh fish was difficult to store and produced in small quantities. After the hostess was given the opportunity to purchase food for future use and not worry about its freshness for a certain amount of time.

The consumption of salt and vinegar has decreased, which has a positive effect on the life expectancy of people.

 How food was stored before the invention of the refrigerator

A household refrigerator was released about a hundred years ago. Before that, they kept food in basements and cellars, and those who did not have them were forced to go for tricks, which now may seem strange and surprising.

So that in our time you do not have to use these methods – add to your bookmarks the website of the Setting Service, whose specialists promptly and efficiently provide a full range of services for repairing refrigerators at home in Yekaterinburg.

Added? And now you can read about amazing ways to store food without a refrigerator with peace of mind!

For a long time, people have used food preservation. This is smoking, salting, drying, drying, cooking 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 ones.

For long-term storage of meat and fish, they were sprinkled with salicylic acid. Very carefully it was necessary to rub the powder along the bones, cartilage. The food was then wrapped in cloth and stored for over two weeks. Before eating, it was necessary to rinse the meat and fish well.

A solution of the same acid was also used (2 teaspoons of the preparation per glass of water). It was kept in a dark place and, if necessary, food was poured over it. The meat and fish prepared in this way were stored for only a few days.

If meat and fish nevertheless began to emit an unpleasant odor, then they were immersed in water, where birch coals were thrown, and this beat off the smell and unpleasant taste.

The same salicylic acid solution was used to store eggs. The eggs were immersed in it for half an hour, then they were taken out, dried on a napkin and stored after that for half a year and even more.

Salicylic acid solution has even been used to store butter. Pieces of cloth were moistened with a solution and oil was wrapped in them.

Before using such oil, it was necessary to rinse it in running water.

Vegetable oil was stored in a very interesting way: the oil was poured into jugs or dark glass bottles. A little vodka was poured over the oil and the vessel was closed. Vodka prevents oxygen from entering the vessel and therefore the oil does not go rancid.

Potatoes for long-term storage were boiled in salted water for five minutes, then air-dried and stored in a cool dark place. The potatoes retained their taste and did not disappear.

Sauerkraut can also be stored for a very long time, literally until next summer. To do this, you just need to stick a birch stick into a barrel of cabbage!

Even champignons were kept for several years. To do this, they were poured with dilute sulfuric acid. When needed, the mushrooms were taken out, washed and eaten.

There have been many ways to store such a popular vegetable as cucumber. They remained fresh for almost a month if they were kept at one end in spring water. The water, however, had to be changed frequently. But, they were stored even longer if they were placed in clay pots and covered with dry sand. Pots of cucumbers were buried in the ground and could be stored in this way for several months.

The bitterness in asparagus was very simply removed: a little sugar was thrown into the water where it was boiled. Fresh asparagus was stored like this: it was wrapped in dough, the dough was coated with oil and the asparagus did not spoil. Another way is to sprinkle with a mixture of bran and salt.

On hot days, milk and cream were saved from souring by adding magnesium carbonate to them. For the same purpose, a horseradish leaf was dipped into a bowl of milk. Another method was to cover the milk with a cloth, both ends of which are immersed in water. The water evaporated and prevented the milk from souring. Troubled, of course, but it works!

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *