Most farmers and homesteaders planted and ate their food in seasons. Which means certain times of the year fruits and vegetables were more abundant than in any other period. When the colder season came along, they'd have to find another way to preserve the food that would carry them through the winter months.
How did the homesteaders preserve their food? Either by drying, smoking or salting. All three of these drew the moisture form the foods so they would not spoil. Fruits and vegetables were laid out in the sun to dry. Meats were either smoked or salted. Rubbing salt on the meat, covering it up in a cool area for a few weeks would dry out the meat. During this process, more salt would be rubbed into the meat. After the meat dried, it was washed and left to age.
Another way was smoking or curing the meats. It would be hung from a hook in a room or a smokehouse with a fire pit. For a month long treatment, the smoke would dry out the meat and even added flavor.
Meal preparation in the 1800's was much more complicated than in today's world. Back then it was the center of family lifestyles. Today, we can order a pizza or wings and let someone else do it.