Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nutrition Without or With Little Refrigeration.

How will you live without refrigeration?  Well, people did it for thousands of years.

 You can cool your food, not quite to the temperature that we are used to, but enough to prolong spoilage.. a bit.

Cut a hole in the side of your house away from heat sources.  Build a box cased into the opening like a window frame, but extending a foot or 18 inches outside the house.  Do not put a back on it.  Hang a piece of cloth over the box to cover the sides and the open back of the box.  Keep it wet, and as the water evaporates, it will remove heat from the box.  Make a good door on the inside that does not allow room air to enter, and insulate the door to stop heat transfer.(Styrofoam)  Hang a pail with a little leak in it over the box to allow a slow drip to fall on the cloth and keep it damp.  Put a metal back on the open side in the winter, or build another one that is not quite so exposed on all sides to very cold temperatures,  This will allow the room air and outside air to balance out.

I will have a very small refrigerator.  This will not allow me to store perishables for as long as I do now. These techniques will help me with food storage.

Butter keeps pretty well in a cool place, especially if it is well salted.  The milk solids will eventually go rancid.
Try making Clarified Butter.  Heat butter just till it melts.  The milk solids will sink to the bottom, and you can drain off the clear fat from the top.  This is used in very refined does not burn as easily as butter, and it is used in hot climates because it does not spoil as quickly.

Potted and salted meats are available in cans and home made.  You must curb your use of salt though if you use them regularly.  The salt content will KILL YOU!  No salt in any of your food in addition to this, and you can soak salted things to remove some of the salt, changing water a couple of times.

Pepperoni and other preserved meats and sausages are good for long periods.  Salami and any dry cured meats are good. 

For Millenia, Salt was as valuable as gold, as it was one of the best ways to preserve food!

Hams have been smoked for centuries, as have fish fillets.  Refrigeration is still good with them, but well smoked meats need minimal care for preservation, but chilling will always do them good.

Salt is used to preserve hams, such as prosciutto...never refrigerated, and Italy is a pretty hot is good though if you can do it. 

Sun dry tomatoes and some meats, but meats must be done very quickly to avoid, very dry days only and very thinly sliced food.  Do not do chicken!  Jerky recipes are all over the Internet.

Caves and root cellars will help to preserve foods longer.  In my Grandmothers' islands, they used to hang meats and foods that require cool temperatures in their underground cisterns.  Just build a box, waterproof it just to prevent dripping into the water, and suspend it from ropes. 

If you have a nice cold stream nearby, fill crocks with food and lower the crocks into the stream.  Do not submerge the cover unless the seal is perfect so as not to let in water. 
Just covered jars or Tupperware are good for small portions, again, as long as the seal is perfect.  Canning jars are good for this.

Crocks with loose covers could attract foraging animals, but that is a chance you may have to take.  Do not try this in stagnant or still pools...Running water please...always cold and moving.

Storing milk is problematic.  YOU DO NOT NEED MILK FOR ANYTHING.  Even mashed potato is better with broth and maybe a bit of cheese.  You are not a baby cow.  But since you make butter, you will have milk, so it certainly will not hurt you to have it for some uses.

Learn to make cheese...hard, long storage cured cheeses last a long time.  Soft cheese will last a week in a cool spot, but better if refrigerated.  Both are really easy, and there are all kinds of sources on line for techniques. 
Learn to curdle the milk with natural rennet. 
If you are not killing a calf each week, old fashioned rennet is not going to be available.  Also, where would you buy it after the end of society.  There are cheeses made with lemon juice, vinegar and also with thistle juices(I understand). Search for rennet made from Stinging Nettles.
Preserve cheeses in ashes. Nut wood or ashes from grape vine trimmings are usual. 
Once you open a cheese, cutting into the natural rind, it...but you can leave it unrefrigerated briefly, tightly covered as with a cheese dome..  All these preservation techniques need to be done VERY CLEAN to avoid contamination.

Make Terrines and Pates.  Salted, smoked, spiced and liquor soaked meat purees, layered with blanched vegetables and nuts are sealed in pretty layers of fats and bacon, cooked very low, and stored cool in a covered container,... cover while hot to seal like canning.  Meats will last longer this way than just basic storage, This does not mean that they are preserved exactly, just prolonged a bit.  Cut the loaf of meat and veggies into neat slices and serve on a bed of greens.
Many elegant foods began as country ways of preservation.  This is not meant to be long term storage, just extending the storage longer than fresh meats.  Again...WORK CLEAN!  This is the origin of meatloaf that we do today...but great recipes will produce great food.

A nice layer of fat on top of a meat dish will help to preserve meats.  Duck is often cooked extremely slowly in its own fat, the layer on top will keep it pretty fresh for a while, meaning that you could kill a duck every week or so through the winter and have a pretty steady supply of food.  A goose also works as they are very fatty.  Lard acts as a good preservative floated on top of food.  Hard working people ate the fat in the past, but you do not need to eat it if it bothers you.  Just scrape it off.

One thing to remember, our body does not need more than 3 ounces of meat a day, and you can live without completely.  It is good to keep some meat in your diet regularly, because you can lose the ability to digest it properly if it is not eaten regularly.  Who knows when you may have only meat to eat, so do not become a vegetarian..exactly.  Legumes and grains mixed in a meal will give you fairly good protein for the day  That is why a peanut butter sandwich is a decent meal.
Make your own fish pond on your property.  Seal off the inlet and outlet with fine mesh to keep stock in...Also, use only native species of fish so as not to introduce undesirable species into your area.  Running water is essential, with an inlet(or spring) and an outlet so as not to concentrate waste material in the pond.  I remember ponds on my stepfather's grandparents' dairy farm.  Water for the animals as well as fish.

 Olive oil can be used for many things that butter would be used for,  Bake cakes and crackers and breads with it.  It stores well for a long time, especially if kept on the cool side and in the dark.  (The quality suffers, but it will be OK for a while).  There are many other sources of oils in the wild in North America.  Even onions have oils in them.  Use up Extra Virgin olive oil first as it will be more likely to spoil as it has more organic content. 
Keep things in wet earthenware containers to evaporate like the cooler above, and chill the oil slightly.

If you have a kid in a pottery class in High shool or college, have them make a series of tall, straight sided cups. like large drinking glasses.  a number of sizes will be useful.  Fill the earthenware up with water, and lower in a bottle of wine, or a jar of any other food to be chilled.  As the water evaporates through the pottery, it will cool.

All canned food will help with your preservation problems, but always use the liquids for something, and be aware of ingredients...keep the foods you buy as free of extraneous ingredients as possible.  Beware of salt content and do not add salt to your cooking if these liquids are re-used.  Better still, can your own food.  The only problem is the seal, as replacement covers and seals will not be available if times are tough.  Explore old ways of canning on the Internet.
Pickling is a good alternative as is preservation in alcohol.  Again, use the brine for something, perhaps to make salad dressing or just to drink if there is little salt in it.  Vinegars are good for you.

Keep generous supplies of grains and legumes available.  Devote your growing land to both of these.
Together they provide you with complete protein for good health.  The quality of the protein is a bit lower than meats and fish, but still exellent.
As mentioned elsewhere, you can grow corn, beans and squash together in the same field and in the same mounds or rows, though the variety of corn used to be a type that dried for meal rather than for fresh eating. They all preserve or last well.  Oats are a good alternative, barley is common too.  Beers and liquors can be made from the grains.  Do not turn up your nose at alcohol, this is a good source of calories if not abused.

There are many things which are downright dangerous without refrigeration.  Anything made with raw eggs should be avoided.  Mayonnaise is a prime example.  Potato Salad, Tuna Salad,  egg salad, Cole slaw, all contain Mayo and will not be safe to eat after it is at room temperature for more than say...Half an hour. Make cole slaw with Hot pickling brine instead of mayo.  The sweet sour mustardy combination is great and spoilage is not as much of a problem,  Boil vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, salt and pepper together, and pour it over finely shredded veggies in the cabbage family or carrots, onions and peppers.  Allow it all to wilt a bit in the heat and then refrigerate.
Also, roast vegetables in the oven, and mix up a sauce of briefly simmered tomato and olive oil with a bit of vinegar...plenty of herbs and spices of course.  This will last a week cooled.

 If you catch a fish and string it on a stick to carry it home for half an hour, you are probably safe, or half the fishing world would have been long gone in their youth.  On the other hand, once the fish has been opened and cleaned, it must be used promptly, smoked , salted or preserved in some delicious pickling preparation within an hour or so.  Fish should be completely odorless, other than the fresh scent of the water it came from.  Any fishiness indicates improper preservation.

Research preservation in olive oil.  Many foods are done this way.

Fruits and vegetables will keep best in refrigeration, or in a root cellar, but do quite well for a couple of days at room temperature. Many fruits are dried for later hydration and use.  Some fruits do not react well to refrigeration.  Bananas and apples are not at their best in cold.

Eggs have traditionally been kept on the kitchen counter until used, but that was a time when various contaminations were a rarity.  If you must do this, try to do it only with your own, impeccably hygienic eggs from chickens in a clean environment.  Use them up as quickly as possible.  Eggs an be buttered to extend their life, but it does alter the way they cook and limits their uses.

Condiments on the other hand will do pretty well without refrigeration.  Many are heavily salted or full of vinegar and sugar.  Still, once you have stuck your meat-covered spreader into a mustard jar, anything could happen.   Mustard, catsup etc., are pretty well preserved in vinegar, salt and sugar.  These are very easy to prepare yourself from dry mustard, either purchased or gathered and ground at home.  Barbecue sauce and catsup are easy to prepare yourself from fresh tomatoes, and some are made with other fruit when in season.  Peaches are often used in condiments, and you can make chutneys for use on foods, especially meats.
You can do tiny batches of these for use that day or the next. Again, if heavily salted or in vinegar or sugat rich base liquids, they may last pretty well.

Pasta is an excellent food for long term storage.  Make your own from virtually any recipe that is recommended for drying, and it will last for a very long time if kept very dry.  It can also be cooked and kept cool for several days till it needs to be eaten.  Store with a good coating of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. The pasta may be mixed with a generous number of eggs and left over bits of meats and veggies and fried or baked as a cake in a nice heavy skillet(cast iron is best) and served in wedges  like a pie. 
Look for a German country recipe called rivels(I think)  These are extremely easy!
They are simply 1 egg, and a cup of flour with a 1/4 tsp of salt.  The dough is just mixed up till it holds together.  They can be made into rough balls or flat ovals to boil in soup like a noodle.  I have seen them quite large, formed with a spoon but also tiny.  The large ones may have to cook 10 minutes.  You can press them through the large holes of a grater, to make tiny ones.  I have also seen them coating the mixer's hands and simply rubbed off the hand into the broth in tiny shreds.  Thinned with plenty of egg or water, they can be allowed to run semi-liquid, through the holes of a strainer into the soup or water to make worm like noodles.  Add herbs or cooked vegetable purees, like onion or carrot for variations.

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