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How Did Russians Keep Milk From Spoiling Before the Refrigerator Was Invented?

Have you ever heard of the story about two frogs in the bowl of milk? The moral of the tale is to never give up. But what happens when you actually put a frog in a bucket of milk? Let’s find out.

Back in the day, when refrigeration was not yet invented, Russians had a clever way of preserving their milk from deteriorating before. They’d put a live frog in the milk bucket to help keep it from spoiling. 

Why is Milk a Staple Food?

Milk as we know it is a staple food product in most Western countries. It takes a spot in the pantry along with bread, cereals, and cheese. It is a nutrient-rich fluid produced by female mammals to feed their offspring. Cows, sheep, and goats are the most widely consumed varieties. Cow’s milk is most commonly consumed in Western countries.

For years, scientists have studied that milk brings several health benefits if taken regularly. It is packed with various nutrients. In fact, a cup of milk can deliver around ten essential nutrients such as Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12, to name a few. Depending on the kind of milk you take, it can provide even more.

Milk is also a good source of protein. It is actually known as “complete protein,” which means it contains all nine essential amino acids required for your body to function well. Getting enough high-quality proteins is associated with a lower risk of age-related muscle loss in several studies.

Healthy bones have been related to drinking milk. The combination of powerful minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and vitamin K2, can also be gained from drinking milk. All these nutrients are essential to keep the bones healthy and robust.

Milk is also found to help fight obesity. In research that included over 18,000 middle-aged and older adults, it was discovered that eating more high-fat dairy products were connected with less weight gain and a lower risk of obesity. Milk contains a variety of components that may contribute to weight loss and prevent weight gain. (Source: Healthline)

Milk Preservation

When not preserved properly, milk spoils quickly. Once opened, milk is only suitable for consumption within seven days of refrigeration. Some, however, can survive as long as ten days. If left unrefrigerated, milk goes bad after 2 hours. Ideally, milk should be stored within 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and not on the fridge door since the temperature on the door can be unstable. (Source: Taste of Home)

Since refrigeration was not yet invented, how did people preserve milk back then? Jacob Perkins invented the first refrigerator in 1834, but milk was around many years before that. Prior to refrigeration, iceboxes were used. Today, the  Amish still practice this method, due to the fact that they live without using any modern technology. (Source: Gizmodo)

There is an old wives’ tale about milk. That it can be fresh longer if you drop a frog in the bucket. Sounds pretty odd, but this was actually practiced in Russia and Finland before the nineteenth century. Dr. Albert Lebedev, an organic chemist at the Moscow State University, has shown that there could be some benefit to doing this.

Dr. Lebedev and his team analyzed this frog slime to a molecular level. The researchers discovered chemicals that they think would lead to the development of new medicines. Lebedev’s team found 76 different types of peptides with various features that could be valuable in medical science. This old wives’ tale may have been the breakthrough in the creation of new medicines for the new world. (Source: NPR)

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