It is difficult for a modern person to imagine how people used to do without refrigerators, especially in summer. However, the wisdom of the people has accumulated many tricks on how to preserve food even in the heat without spoiling it.
Refrigerators in Russia appeared only closer to 1901, and even those were at first very rare, and therefore were very expensive. Until that time, in villages and cities, people coped quite successfully without cooling devices, knew how to properly store and consume perishable food on time.
Food preservation methods
Cellars were used to store food - they were dug underground, where the temperature was low, and even in summer it was cool. In these underground rooms, most of the food was piled - milk, eggs, cereals, flour. Special processing helped especially - canning, salting, smoking, making jam. Such products could be prepared in summer and eaten only in winter or spring. In addition to the well-known methods that housewives use to this day, there were other techniques. And the easiest of them was to make exactly as many dishes that could be eaten in a day. The hostesses did not cook for several days in advance, nothing of the food was stale. If it was necessary to cook lunch or dinner, they took out as much food as needed for the family, the surplus remained very rarely. Only bread was an exception - it was baked for 2-3 days at once, and if it had time to get stale, they cut rusks out of it.
If any dishes were left in the evening, they were used in the morning. For example, porridge, cabbage or potatoes could be added to the dough, pies made - and now a fresh breakfast is ready. Such a perishable product as milk was added to dough or cereals, drank it themselves, made cottage cheese, butter, sour cream, watered piglets or calves, and gave some of it to neighbors who did not have a cow. And if the milk turned sour, pancakes or pies could be made. In order not to store the meat, it was cooked very rarely in the summer - for church holidays or for the sick. If they themselves could not eat, they handed out pieces to neighbors, remembered to whom they gave how much. Then it was the turn of the neighbors to slaughter a pig or a heifer, then they already shared with everyone. With this approach, the need for storing meat in the summer disappeared.
And if it was necessary to preserve the meat for several days, it was dipped in salted boiling water, and then the piece was dried. It was also popular to cook stewed meat, when the meat was first simmered in the oven, and then distributed in containers and poured with lard. You could save pork or beef by putting it in milk. When it turned sour, the access of air to the meat was closed, therefore, it could no longer deteriorate. The caught fish was previously gutted, and then covered with nettles or bird cherry, the leaves of which were famous for their bactericidal properties.
Using the ice cellar
Despite the lack of electricity, the villages used to have their own refrigerators. In addition to the usual cellar, they also made an ice one. In the warm season, an underground room was dug, the floor was covered with straw or shavings, dried and smoked with embers. Then, in winter or closer to spring, at a time when persistent frosts still persisted and the ice was strong, blocks of ice were brought from a lake or river, and snow was brought in. All this was laid out on the floor in the ice cellar. The lid was covered with old blankets, bedspreads, so that as little heat as possible penetrated inside. Even in hot weather, the snow and ice in it melted slowly, and inside the cellar the temperature remained minus 5-8 ° C. Even if the ice melted, the cellar was still dry, as the water was absorbed into the earthen floor. In such conditions, it was possible to store salted, smoked and even fresh meat, bacon, fish, poultry, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk.