How did refrigeration change our lives?

Of all of the many inventions to come out of the 20th century, refrigeration quite possibly altered the course of our everyday lives in the most tasteful way. Refrigerators, whether they are in your home or on a commercial property make a huge difference to our daily lives. In fact, refrigeration has changed the world.  Refrigeration chester is available to help you change or upgrade your refrigerator for the modern world.

Long before there was refrigeration, cooks from around the world found ways to preserve what would otherwise be perishable food by pickling, potting, salting it or drying – all of these methods change the food’s flavour and texture, these techniques are still relied upon all over the world.

As for the use of ice, that actually dates back to at least 1100 B.C., this is based on the underground icehouses in China. Snow was in fact shipped to Istanbul in the 16th century; but for the common people at home, dependent on where they lived, they have been able to harvest their own ice from streams and lakes or frozen it in pots or pans when the temperature dropped.

Once a reliable source of year-round ice was discovered, home cooks had to depend on an icebox to keep their perishable foods from spoiling too quickly. Ice would have been delivered often, but the unpredictable temperatures within the icebox were never as cold as our refrigerators today.

The appliance that takes centre stage in our kitchens today didn’t arrive in many homes until 1925-1945 (which is a remarkably short time span for new technology to be accepted). The early refrigerator was considerably smaller than our refrigerators today and it was also without a freezer compartment. Combination fridge-freezers were the next natural innovation, the stand-alone chest freezer didn’t appear until the refrigerator market was already saturated.

Frozen food has actually been around since the 1920’s when Clarence Birdseye realised that fast freezing fish didn’t alter the texture, this concept was later applied to fruits and vegetables. Refrigeration changed our lives in ways that are big and small. Until then, dinner tables would have primarily relied on local foods, although dried goods such as flour, spices and tea had been shipped in for years. Once the refrigerated cars and trucks were available, it was a game changer; perishable foods could be transported across the country and further afield.

The benefits of refrigerated food include:

  • Lower food prices, which then improved nutrition
  • Expanded mealtime options, as fresh food was available year-round. Mealtimes were also easier for the cooks, as there was less need for extra shopping trips
  • The refrigerated cases in supermarkets meant that you could purchase pre-cut meat, and not longer have to go to a butcher’s shop
  • There was less food wastage due to spoilage being under better control

The prevention of food spoilage was the prompt for refrigeration, but it is recognised today as an integral part of food safety, as it suppresses the growth of food-borne bacteria. Refrigeration raised the bar for the expectations of how food should taste. It no longer tasted old, but tasted fresh. Dinner has never been the same since – thank goodness!

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