Before Refrigerators Were Invented, How Did People Preserve Their Food (Particularly Meat) So That It Didn't Spoil?
All the answers have focused on fairly new and recent systems of refrigeration.
But in 500 BCE – The yakhchal (meaning "ice pit" in Persian;) an ancient Persian type of refrigerator was invented.
The structure was formed from a mortar resistant to heat transmission, in the shape of a dome.
Snow and ice was stored beneath the ground, effectively allowing access to ice even in hot months and allowing for prolonged food preservation.
In Europe and other less developed nations (at the time) spices were used to preserve meat. The most popular being salt since pepper was still expensive and difficult to attain.
1- drying (eg in the sun or via other methods ; eg bresaola, beef jerky)
2- cooling (eg leaving outside the window in the cold)
3- freezing (eg burying in the snow)
4- smoking (eg ham)
5- stewing (note: temperatures above 63 degrees Celsius are considered adequate for preserving food by today's standards)
6- canning (eg vienna sausages)
7- jellying (eg 'pig head' jelly)
8- pickling (eg corned beef)
9- burying in the ground