EDITORS NOTE: We have included videos from our good friend Steve Doner’s Youtube Channel. If you like history Subscribe Now.
We live in an era where refrigeration allows us to have foods from all over the world. Modern refrigerated trucks and ships bring us foods which are kept in the fridge or freezer for months, and at our convenience we get to enjoy treats like ice cream and cold soda pop any time of the year.
In the old days keeping things cold was a luxury. In some places you could get ice and snow in the winter, and keep it for a while. A lot of places, however, don’t have that advantage, and shipping ice from the places that did was incredibly expensive.
At one point in history there were steamships transporting blocks of ice across the Atlantic, which sounds absolutely absurd. Drinks with ice, and ice creams, were luxuries outside of cold seasons.
If you don’t need to keep things frozen or cold. It’s very possible to keep things cool. There are many natural ways to keep things cool. The biggest source of cool temperatures is the ground: dig down a few feet and you’ll find that the temperature generally hovers around 55 to 60°F (13 or 14°C).
Caves, if you have them, will save you the labor of digging. Beers, wines, and cheeses in ancient times would be aged in caves, keeping them at a cool temperature so that fermentation would proceed at a reasonable pace. Even today, storage facilities for wines and cheeses are called “caves”, even when they’re actually just walk-in refrigerators (or in the case of wines, room-temperature showrooms).
Streams, which often begin as underground streams, will be in the same temperature range as the ground temperature mentioned above , and the flowing water has the ability to cool things down faster. On the farm not so long ago that cool water pull from the ground was a primary way milk, eggs and vegetables were kept cool.
In June 1916 The University of Illinois Department of Agriculture Published “Cooling Cream on the farm.” Their guide to using cool water to cool cream on the farm provide the following summary:
1. Quality is the fundamental factor that controls the condition of the butter market and that determines the price at which butter sells.
2. The quality of butter on the market depends more on the
quality of the cream from which it is made than on any other condition incident to production, manufacture and transportation of the butter.
3. In order that the cream may arrive at the creamery in good condition it must be cooled promptly and be kept cool until it leaves the farm.
4. Running springs and cold water wells serve as efficient natural facilities for cooling cream on the farm.
5. In the absence of these natural facilities properly constructed cream cooling tanks should be used. These may readily be constructed by the cream· producers or can be purchased readymade and at low cost.
6. By pumping all water used for watering the stock through the cream cooling tank, the use of the cooling tank involves ·practically no extra labor.
7. The proper use of the cream cooling tank and keeping separate the warm cream from the cold cream retards the souring of the cream, checks undesirable fermentations, eliminates the animal heat from the cream and protects it from contamination with dust, foul odors, flies and other impurities.
8. In order to secure the best results from the use of the cooling tank, all utensils, cans, separators, strainers, stirrers, dippers and the tank itself should be kept thoroughly clean.
They continue, Dug wells with cold water may also serve as natural cooling and storing places for cream. The cans may readily be lowered into such wells by a windlass or on ropes with pulleys. Dry wells and pits, although cool, are usually not suitable for storing the cream. As previously stated the mere ·exposure of tqe cream to cool air does not cool the cream rapidly enough to prevent fermentations. Then again, such pits are usually damp and are prone to contain stale air and often foul odors and gases, which may be absorbed by the cream and which are favorable for contamination with, and growth of molds and other undesirable micro-organisms. Dry wells and pits are very similar in their effect on cream as cellars. Their chilly atmosphere is due to dampness rather than to low temperature and their standard of sanitation is at best questionable. Running springs and dug wells with cold water on the other hand, furnish ideal places for cooling and storing cream. These natural facilities are available on many farms but are often not utilized. If intelligently used, these facilities may serve the purpose at practically no expense to the farmer, quite as effectively as especially constructed cooling tanks.
The most amazing part of this post is the work of my friend and historian from Walsh, CO, Steve Doner. He has provided videos of Cooling Troughs in SE Colorado. If I were you I would subscribe to his Youtube Channel. You won’t be sorry.
A couple of notes on Steve’s video’s. The Blanchat video shows some of the amazing stonework of Joseph Blanchat who also was a stone mason on the Springfield school built in 1889 shown below. Also Check out my blog “The Old Stone Schoolhouse in Springfield”