Ancient Ruins

The Ancient History of Food Storage and Refrigerated Pantries

February 28, 2020 Published by

Ever since human beings began roaming the earth, keeping food supplies safe and preserved has been one of our greatest challenges. Whether it was protecting our food from predators or trying to keep certain items from spoiling, how food is stored has always been crucial for survival.

In this article, we’ll dive into some of the ancient methods of food storage, and examine how some of those methods led us to where we are today in regards to refrigerators, refrigerated pantries, and beyond.

An ancient city on a hill side

Before Refrigerators

Before the general concept of the modern refrigerator came into existence in the mid 1700s, there were a variety of methods people used to keep their food fresh. One of the more popular methods involved putting food and water in a bucket, then lowering that bucket into caves and wells. Caves and wells were naturally colder areas due to their location, and as a result, food stayed cooler and better preserved in these areas.

Pickling was another method of keeping food, particularly produce, well kept. The history of pickling can actually be traced back 4,000 years, and is defined as, “the process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. In East Asia, vinaigrette (vegetable oil and vinegar) is also used as a pickling medium,” by wikipedia. In other words, pickling is essentially sticking food in a jar filled with vinegar. Foods that can be pickled include vegetables, fruites, meats, fish, and more.

Shed on a field

The Invention of the Refrigerator

The concept of a modern refrigerator began to take shape in the 1700s in Scotland, but it didn’t truly develop until early in the next century. The modern day refrigerator is mostly attributed to a man named Oliver Evans. As Live Science describes it, “Oliver Evans, an American inventor, designed but did not build a refrigeration machine that used vapor instead of liquid in 1805. In 1820, English scientist Michael Faraday used liquefied ammonia to cause cooling.” All that technical talk translates roughly to Oliver Evans being the mind behind the idea, then others running with the actual development.

AN open refirgerator

The Innovation: Refrigerated Pantry

Once refrigerators became an established part of the average American home, it didn’t take long for people to begin to innovate. Yes, refrigerators keep food well-preserved and have changed daily life throughout the country, but how can we make them better?

Enter: the refrigerated pantry.

Refrigerated pantries have taken all of the best qualities of refrigerators and built upon them by adding additional space for storage and organization. As homes in America have expanded, so too have the needs of homeowners. These pantries have met the ever evolvings needs of American families, and mark the most recent innovation in food preservation.

The history of food preservation is a surprisingly complex, and undoubtedly interesting one. From storing food in wels and caves to the invention of refrigerated pantries, its safe to say humanity has come a long way.

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