Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prepping 101 - Protecting Perishable Food Items

One of the most frequent occurrences that can affect your short term food supplies is a power outage. Although, they are usually of short duration and last anywhere from 24 hours to as much 72 hours on average they can damage or destroy most if not all of your short term food supplies that require refrigeration or need to be kept frozen. There are simple precautions that can be taken to protect these food items with little or no cost.

Your first priority when a power outage occurs due to a storm, failure of your local infrastructure, or failure of the equipment itself is to protect those perishable food items needing refrigeration or those which need to be kept frozen. Without the required refrigeration, many foods will go bad in just a matter of a few hours and will become unfit for human consumption. You can take some simple steps to avoid this loss and the subsequent loss of a major part of your short term food supplies.

You can accomplish this without the large expenditure for a generator. Generators are a great back-up power supply if you can afford one. For many people, this is not an option due to budget restraints and a need to devote their financial resources to other more pressing needs. There are two techniques that I use to protect my perishables that have served me well in all of the instances where a power failure has occurred that might affect my short term food supplies.

You will need cleaned and sanitized milk jugs, 2 liter soda bottles, plastic juice containers or something that will hold water and that has not been used to keep any kind of dangerous chemical that could have contaminated your container. Make sure it is safe to use.

If you have a separate freezer, use a milk jug that has been cleaned and sanitized, fill it with water from a safe source, allow a little room for expansion, and place it in your freezer. For each 24 hours of protection you desire, you will need at least one frozen jug of water. When a power outage occurs, you simply take the frozen jug of water out of the freezer and place it in your refrigerator, effectively making it an “old fashioned” ice box.

You will need to limit the number of times you access your refrigerator to meal times only to extend the cooling effects. The frozen milk jug will become an insulated mini-cooler and help protect your perishable food items. You will need to allocate space in your freezer to do this. Many people do not fully use all the available space in their freezers and so this should not be a major problem. Giving up a little space is a very inexpensive means of protecting your perishable food items.

If you do not have a separate freezer, you can use smaller two liter soda bottles of water that have been frozen to accomplish the same results. Although your space may be at a premium in the small freezer sections of most refrigerators it will still afford you some protection for perishable items. Using two liter soda bottles will also shorten the length of time you will be able to protect your perishable food items.

The second thing you can do is to use a portable ice chest (the larger it is, the better off you will be). Take those frozen items you plan to consume that day and place them in the ice chest and use them to maintain a safe temperature level for your perishables, just like you would a block of ice.

The first method will give you additional protection, even if you don’t have an ice chest or cooler. It will also provide you with extra water for drinking and cooking purposes if regular water sources are unavailable. The second method of using a cooler is better in that it will not require you to keep frozen jugs of water on hand but doesn’t provide the extra source of water. I use both systems and they have served me well on different occasions. I have a large 125 quart cooler that I keep available for just such an occurrence.

Staying above the water line!



Sam said...

See what I mean!? Your blog if full of good stuff every day! I'll put some of my stored water in the freezer today. Thanx!

Here is a dirt cheap way to build a small home generator:


Anonymous said...

Try this link:


A DIY ice machine - ammonia absorption method.

riverwalker said...

To: Sam

Having jugs of ice in the freezer has saved me a bunch of times during the really bad thunderstorms we have around here, which always seem to knock out the power!


Will check it out!


Mayberry said...

Awesome tips RW! I've got 2 120 qt. coolers from my old offshore boat which I had to use when my juice got shut off last winter. They sure were a life saver! We got an ice machine at work, so I had plenty of ice. I did freeze water in 1 gallon milk jugs back when I used to go fishing offshore, for cooler ice on the boat. Worked great! Guess I need to go back to doing that again. It did help that I used to have a stand up freezer in the garage for bait, ice, and extra frozen food.... But I think I can find room in the freezer for 2 gallon jugs.

Riverwalker said...

To: mayberry

I've only got the one big one but lots of smaller ones. That big one takes two guys to pack it when its full!


Marie said...

This is great information--I hope that other readers also realize that there are other great emergency tips over on the TPN, which I also read, even though I'm not in Texas. Thanks for a wonderful idea. I also appreciate the cold frame post--I had not realized you could grow things like that during cold seasons.

Anonymous said...

bleach jugs work well too, and disinfect themselves at the same time. they don't need to be rinsed out as thoroughly as milk jugs do. keep up the good work.

riverwalker said...

To: irishdutchuncle

Great tip there about the bleach jug!


Anonymous said...

Great tip! Greetings from Sweden, the land of the vikings

riverwalker said...

Hälsningar till alla vikingarna i Sverige!


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