I have to admit, I’m fascinated with how people lived without modern technology. I camp a lot, but that’s different. I can still bring a can of sweet corn and frozen beef with me to make my dinner. But our fantasy era characters didn’t have metal cans or freezers, so what did they do?
No, this isn’t an article about what they did. If you want more of that, check out Grain Into Gold and the upcoming Coins of the Road. I really just want to plant the idea in your head, that there were some really cool and inventive ways of providing food all winter long. Let’s face it, they needed to provide food all spring long too, because it’s not like fresh food just appeared the first month of spring. Things we consider weird, like pickled fish, were not only perfectly normal, but they were necessary, perhaps even special treats.
Does every GM need to know the amount of salt it takes to make a corned beef and what the shelf expectancy of the final product would be? No! But you do need to have some understanding of it. Otherwise you can’t create your cities and the homes in those cities. Do your farm cottages have root cellars for the potatoes, carrots and beets? Are they pickling their products, maybe a barrel of sauerkraut? What are they doing to keep the rats and other vermin out of the flour or meal? On a different track - How do they store up fuel for the winter?
You think it was rough on the East Coast this year? Think about a farm cottage that runs out of fuel when 20” of snow hits them.