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Articles - The Changing Face Of Storage:

From salt tonatural ice and beyond to tins. Meat was pickled in oil or covered with tallow or
At the beginning of the 19th century public cold stores were set up at the instigation of the
Pantry & fridge – The perfect partners. The fridge represented a revolution in stock-keeping,
Stock-keeping has seen some fundamental changes over the last few decades. Long shop opening hours,

The tradition of stock-keeping and preserving food in private homes can be traced back to the Romans. Prior to that, we have only a few pointers gleaned from random finds.


We know that during the Stone Age (9000 to 2000 BC) storage pits known as clamps were used to store root vegetables for people and animals. Hazelnuts were roasted to make them last longer. It was also quite usual to plan what food would be eaten for the entire year. Grains were stored, whilst cereals and peas were air dried to make them hardy. Whether or not salt was used as a preservative is unclear. From the late Bronze Age (1000 BC) we have evidence of grain silos and drying kilns which were used to dry legumes.

The Egyptians used a form of preservation by cooling, whereby the cooling effect produced by evaporation from the surface of clay pots served to preserve food in the short term. The Chinese first used ice around 1100 BC. According to tradition, they had specific instructions to follow when it came to filling and emptying cold stores in the context of religious ceremonies.


From the late Celtic period (200 to 100 BC) we have huge storage vessels for cereals, with a capacity of up to 1000 litres. The Celts also bought olive oil from the Romans, which, along with honey and salt, was the preservative of the age. Sauces and liquids were poured into amphorae and pipes and then sealed to preserve them. Smoking was also used in European cultures of the time, enabling our ancestors to produce sausage, bacon and ham. Romans knew how to pickle in vinegar, boil in brine and dry fruit too.


Classic storage containers were barrels, amphorae and clay pots, as well as grain silos and warehouses. Wealthy Romans also had large storage cellars in their villas, where wine and oil amphorae were buried in sand. A stone table with a high, smooth base was used to store fruit during the winter. The design of the table meant that no pests could reach the food. The Romans used wells to keep their food fresh, with the well shaft having an air-tight seal at the top. In the first century AD, Romans in affluent households used snow to keep their wine and food cold on hot days. Snow from mountains in Lebanon, Syria and Armenia was imported on camels, buried in pits in the ground and then covered with manure and branches. Snow which had been contaminated in this way gave rise to a lot of diseases and later the Romans intuitively changed tack and started cooling their drinks in glasses (from the outside).


All articles on this topic:

Stock-keeping in ancient times: From the Stone Age to the Romans
From salt in the Middle Ages to natural ice and beyond to the tins of the modern era
Ice and preserving jars create modern stock-keeping
Stock-keeping today: Pantry & fridge – The perfect partners
Stock-keeping over the years