For my generation it is difficult to imagine a world without refrigeration. What do you do with milk? How do you store delicate greens? And, perhaps most shocking of all, how can you have meat without a freezer? The answer, I’m finding, is simpler than we think. Yes, refrigerators are convenient. I have learned that over the past two years of off-grid living with spotty solar-powered refrigeration. But it is also possible to live without these fairly new devices. Most of mankind throughout all of history have lived without them, in fact. And it always comes back to being connected to your food, its source, and taking the time necessary to put it to good use. When milk comes in daily, there are non-electric means of keeping it cool for a short period of time. Or, you can just add some culture to it, or even allow it to clabber on its own, and you’ll have a food that you can eat from for a bit longer. Bringing delicate vegetables from far away at random intervals can be challenging, so knowing how to store garden vegetables is essential. If we have them growing in our own kitchen garden, we just pick them when we need them. And if there’s an abundance then we can ferment them. Even meat has been preserved with fermentation. Think pickled herring, corned beef, and pickled pig’s feet. Sure, a steak in the freezer is nice, but it’s really not necessary to preserve food this way, and it’s fairly disconnected from the real world of animal husbandry and butchery. As usual, there is a lot we can learn from our ancestors, and how to break free from the “necessity” of refrigeration is one of them. It just so happens that fermentation has been utilized quite often as a nice, sustainable alternative to such practices.

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