Refrigeration is a fairly new phenomenon, and for thousands of years people have had to find smart ways to store food. These practices have slowed the growth of microorganisms that can cause food poisoning and spoil food. Many storage methods other than refrigeration have long been used, including salting, drying, smoking, pickling, and fermentation.
Aside from these methods, how did the ancients preserve their leftovers?
It turns out that early hunter-gatherers had some fairly creative ways to extend the “shelf life” of their food depots.
One fall morning in 2015, two farmers in Michigan made an unexpected discovery. The pelvis. Mammoth bone.. After several phone calls and excavations, the research team discovered additional paleontological and archaeological evidence that made the scene clearer.
Over 11,000 years ago, a herd of mammoths roamed North America.For hunter-gatherers, defeat African-sized animals elephant It’s like winning the lottery — a prize you don’t want to lose. As a result, some indigenous people put mammoth leftovers in ponds for later use.
“The pond provides a place to hide parts of the corpse,” Daniel Fischer, a professor and curator at the University of Michigan Paleontology Museum, told Live Science. “What are the alternatives if the landscape has other predators or scavengers and is willing to attend the meal?”
The corpse was deliberately placed in one of many small, shallow ponds scattered throughout the post-glacier landscape of the Upper Midwest. However, the preservation of meat was not due to water.It was mostly hard work Bacteria, Lactic acid bacteria, It lives in water.
Lactic acid bacteria production Lactic acid, A chemical by-product of anaerobic respiration. Bacteria settle in the meat and lactic acid maintains muscle mass.Fisher also acknowledged low and low temperatures air Lake water content in supporting the conservation process.
Fisher believes the hunt probably happened in autumn.. The fallen animals were slaughtered where they died, and large debris accumulated in the water of a nearby small pond. The meat remained eaten until next summer.Fisher knows this because he experimented with it deer, Lambs, and even horse.. He found that the meat was still edible after months of submerging in a similar small cold pond (after the first cooking to kill the harmful bacteria that might have lived in the meat). ).
“Lactic acid also softens meat,” Fisher said. “It has a strong aroma and taste like Limburger cheese. It will be an interesting meal.”
Pass bog butter and jam
Keeping food cool makes sense, but not everyone has a lake in their backyard. Filling food is another creative way to keep food fresh. Burial protects food from sunlight, heat and oxygen. All of these increase the rate at which food spoils.
Swamps offer intriguing burial options. Swamps are freshwater wetlands with soft, spongy ground, mainly composed of partially rotten plants called peat. A cool, low oxygen, strong acid environment is ideal for the preservation of fresh food.
In Northern Europe, ancient civilizations stored butter-containing food in swamps. Archaeologists have pulled a mass of waxy paraffin-like material from the flooded mud. Researchers conducted a chemical analysis of the waxy substance, identified it as a dairy product, and gave it the fun letter name “bog butter.”
“Within a few years, fresh butter fat is broken down into its constituents,” said Jessica Smith, an assistant professor at the University College Dublin Archaeological School, who published a 2019 study on bog butter in the journal. .. Nature.. “You have a lump of fatty acids.”
Swamps provided the early agricultural community with a way to store fresh food, such as dairy products, for extended periods of time. According to Smith, there is an ethnographic reference to people burying summer butter in swamps for storage. Curated butter is edible, but can have an acquired taste, the spicy flavor of the surrounding peat.
“It’s easy to think of bog butter as an anomalous or anomalous event, but it was probably a common practice,” Smith told Live Science. “Flark provides a window to prehistoric agricultural practices that have disappeared from the world.”
Originally published in Live Science.
How did the ancients store food before refrigeration?
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