Without refrigeration, the family relied on curing meat in a brine (salt) solution to keep it from spoiling. The meat was then smoked to give it flavor. A fire of fruit wood, (like apple or cherry) smoldered in the firebox for up to three weeks, depending on the size of the piece of meat, sending smoke up through the floor of the smokehouse. Ham, sausage, bacon, and corned beef were among the meats preserved for winter use. Meat was hung on hooks or placed on shelves in the smokehouse. Not everyone had a smokehouse and neighbors would often share a communal smokehouse. The smokehouse walls are very dark thanks to the smoking process. The use of slightly warmed, dry air from a very slow hardwood fire will ensure the proper drying of the meats.