Could you live off-grid without a refrigerator? Susan Gregersen has for over 30 years. She wrote Life Without Refrigeration to share her experiences and tips for preserving food without benefit of a fridge. She explains how bacterial growth and spoilage occur, and why some foods need to be kept cold.
To start with, several chapters address places to keep food cool –
basements and crawl spaces.
She then devotes a chapter to alternative means of preserving food –
With each method of storage or preservation, Ms. Gregersen offers examples of which foods are best suited for that method. I was particularly interested in the dairy and meat suggestions and found some new ideas for dehydrating that I plan to try. Especially cottage cheese and sour cream. Apparently it is possible. As another alternative, she gives information on commercial dried and canned meat, dairy and eggs, and alternatives. Raising meat and dairy animals is also an option.
I have stored food in my unheated workshop for many years with great success. Mostly canned, dehydrated, or dry goods, but also citrus and root veggies, wrapped in newspaper and put in boxes. It is very important to pay attention to signs of spoilage and know what kinds of storage or preservation are safe for the foods you are storing. Also how soon to use them.
Although Susan does not give detailed instructions for the projects offered, they serve as a springboard for ideas to further research.
To sum up, this book is a handy reference guide to all of the above, for the beginner. If you are looking for more advanced storage and preservation methods, such as for meat and dairy, it is a good jumping off point.
I bought Life Without Refrigeration from Amazon, Kindle Version. I did not receive any compensation for this review.
Ah, the wonders of side pork. Just what is it? Side pork is the cut of the pig that bacon is made out of. And they do sell it “unbaconized” in the store. We acquired some the other day and sliced it up to fry as bacon. We also cut it into chunks and put it in with some beans. Sometimes we deep fry it into chicharones.
You can cure your own bacon by rubbing it with salt and pepper and whatever other seasonings you like and store it in the fridge for, oh I don’t know, a week or so and then freeze it and take it out as needed. That way you don’t have to have all those sugars and nitrites that are added to commercial bacon for “flavor”. Here is the cooked “bacon”. Can you tell the difference?
Over the summer, I got a case of tomatoes at the farmer’s market and they were so tasty that I decided I needed to save some for over the winter. Sun drying was out of the question. Too much rain and too much humidity. So, I decided to make sauce and can it. My previous sauces have been too watery, so this time I tried a new approach. Lydia from Lydia’s kitchen, says the tomato seeds can make the sauce bitter, so I quartered and seeded them and filled 2 pots with the pieces, skin and all. I cooked them down for 2 or 3 hours, then let them sit overnight to cool, so I could put them through the blender. The next morning, I processed the cooked tomatoes in a high speed blender on the smoothie setting for a couple minutes, including the skins, which were now soft. I poured the thick, rich sauce back into the pots and cooked it down to half.
boiling canning jars to sterilize
The following day, I heated the sauce, sterilized jars, filled them and capped them. I processed them in a boiling water bath for the amount of time indicated by the Ball Blue Book for 7800 ft. elevation.
ball blue book of canning
This is my new favorite way to preserve tomatoes. Sadly, we have already used up all the sauce for spaghetti, pizza, and soup. The good news is, I seemed to have cooked out enough of the water for the sauce to stay thick. The flavor was incredible. I think next season I will be getting several cases of those tomatoes.
Pumpkin seeds are a healthy, easy-to-make snack. They’re a great way to make optimal use of the whole pumpkin or other winter squash. They’re packed with zinc, which will help you ward off those winter colds. Stuffed squash and pumpkin seeds are both easy to make in the rv oven. I do my pumpkin seeds on the stove top because it’s easier for me.
I like my homemade, roasted pumpkin seeds, so once I’ve got the squash in the oven, I put the seeds in a colander and rinse well. Next, I pop them off of the membranes, then rinse them real good and drain them. Soak them in salt water overnight, and the next day, drain and either roast them or fry them. I like to fry them because I always forget about them in the oven and they burn.
I’ve already soaked the seeds in salt water, so I don’t add any more salt. I add a few tablespoons of coconut oil to my cast iron fry pan and dump the seeds in. Stir frequently and reduce heat if necessary. I want them a nice, toasty brown so that they’re crunchy, but not too hard. I can tell if they’re not done enough, because they’ll be hard to chew. If that happens, I add the ones I think need more roasting back into the pan and keep stirring.
I like to leave a small bowl of seeds sitting out for my family to grab handfuls of throughout the day. The rest, I put into glass jars with tight fitting lids, after they’re cool, of course. This way we can enjoy them for months, without them getting stale. It also makes them easier to grab and go for nutritious, homemade road food or trail snacks.
With all the specials on winter squash right now, you can make really inexpensive, tasty dinners with ’em. They’re not just for jack ‘o lanterns anymore. You can use any kind of winter squash: butternut, acorn, pumpkin, try any of the hard squashes. Rinse off the rind, cut it; in the case of an acorn squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and save them. Pumpkin as well. Most squash seeds are high in zinc, which helps build the immune system and ward off winter colds. Squash is a perfect winter food. The yellow flesh, signals lots of Vitamin A, which is another immune booster, and a critical vitamin in its natural form, from squash and carrots.
So, scoop out the seeds and cut a flat bottom on the squash, so it won’t tip over when you stuff it. Grease the bottom of the pan and set the squash in it. Then cut up some meat, or even use hamburger or sausage. I used Italian sausage links that I sliced into chunks. Stuff your squash with some of your meat, or all of your meat, as the case may be. If you’ve got extra, throw it in another pan and set that aside. Next we’re gonna take an onion or two and a handful of garlic, and chop that up and throw that in with the meat. You can mix it all together or layer it, however you like. Depending how fatty your meat is, you may need to put a few chunks of butter or coconut oil on top.
Then you’re going to cover your squash and put it in a 350’ oven for 45-60 min. When the meat is done and the squash is soft, it’s ready to eat.
Now we get back to our other pan with the rest of the meat, put the rest of the onions and garlic in there, with the meat and chop up some cabbage real fine, or chunky, however you like it. Put that on top and definitely put a few spoonfuls of coconut oil on top of that. Cover it up, put it in the oven with your squash. They should both be done at the same time. That’s it. Easy, peasy meal.
Cook fresh, eat healthy, enjoy the road!
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