Food Cooling Methods for the Plains Settlers

Food cooling methods on the homestead made plains settlers be smart about how they'd use what they had to keep their supplies fresh.

| Good Old Days

Plains settlers had to be resourceful when it came to food cooling methods. Check out these three cool stories of how homesteading families got it done.

Solar Cooling  

Ninety years ago, on a farm in Iowa, my grandparents used the sun to keep foods cool.

On a hot day, Grandmother would partially fill a tub of water and in the center she would put a crock or vessel of some kind containing the milk, butter, or other foods she wished to "refrigerate." She would place a lid on the crock, then cover it with a piece of blanket, making sure the edges fell into the water. The cover was doused well with water and the blanket was re-wet frequently. In a few hours, the contents of the crock would be cool as a result of the sun's evaporation of the water. 

Mary Margaret Thompson 
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Wet-sand Cooler  

Water was plentiful in the sand hills of Yuma County, Colorado, where my father homesteaded, and we did not have to go deep to find a good supply. We had a big 50-gallon wood barrel buried in the ground, and we kept the sand around the barrel damp so that milk and butter we held in the barrel would be cool.

Although water was plentiful in the ground, it was scarce for deer and other animals. Coyotes and jackrabbits thrived; there were lots of them. 

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: October 13-14, 2018
Topeka, KS

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!