In the past , conservation of grain, fruits and hay after harvesting and other kind of food after its ellaboration, required special techniques and buildings:
Storage of grain required dark places with low humidity. Three main types of grain storage structures can be listed:
Granaries were widespread throughout Europe; in many occasions presenting differences according to the local conditions. They consist in separate buildings in which grain is stored.
Structures that constitute a separate part inside a building (house, stable). An example is the Galician tullas, usually integrated inside the houses.
Chests and others
Different kinds of chests were also used for storing low quantities of grain, normally inside the houses
In order to preserve the hay, several systems were used:
Barns are buildings especially built to keep hay from rain or wind. In the Austrian Alps, hay meadows are traditionally situated in higher reaches, where the lack of water supply make them not suitable for grazing or establishing summer farms; also leaving land with more favourable conditions in the valley bottoms and on the lower slopes for its use for crop production or grazing. In such areas, grass and herbs are dried on-site, after cutting them, forming the hay. As in the past the transport of the hay down to the valley was a really big challenge to the farmers. It was usually raked and brought to wooden storage buildings (hay barns) nearby. During winter time when the land was covered by snow, the hay could be brought down in small lots on hay sledges. Another reason for on-site storage was the fact that farmers normally had no possibility to store the whole harvest on their farms in the valley, so they needed these additional buildings. Today, most hay meadows are accessible on small roads or at least field tracks and the harvest can be brought down by agricultural vehicles. Therefore the importance of hay barns has been decreasing during in the last decades. Some of them are not used any more.
Haystacks are piles of hay especially made to store hay outside the buildings. In the haystacks, the outer part was shaped in a way that keeps the hay together, and its core dry.
Hesjer and other
Other structures like the Norwegian hesjer, consisting in racks of hay hung on strings placed on poles, were also used for both storage and drying.
Multi-purpose storage buildings, like Galician hórreos, Portuguese espigueiros, and Eastern Europe hambars, were also common, and presented a large diversity of shapes. It was common, however, to build them raised from the ground above pillars, which were ended in flat rocks or similar, to keep the food away from rodents and other plagues. Also, it was usual to have some kind of ventilation system , which in mild climates could be permanent. Grain, fruits, and preserved meat were usually stored there.
Processes also contributed to preserve the food. Milk was processed to make cheese, butter and other products. Meet was cured following different procedures, obtaining ham, sausages, etc.