Having the Right Information Helps
The small details make survival possible so begin your quest for knowledge today so you do not get tripped up by the small things that add up to bigger things in a survival situation.
Once the power goes out you have decisions to make. Your freezer is loaded full and the refrigerator has everything from milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, breads, pies to last night’s meatloaf, so what to do with all the food if the power is interrupted for an extended period.
The frozen foods can last up to 48 hours before the food has to be cooked/processed or essentially thrown away. The inside of your refrigerator however will only hold a safe temperature between 4 and 6 hours. Much depends on how often you open and close the doors.
Break It Down
Milk will spoil in a matter of hours, as will the cottage cheese, and eggs and any fresh meats will spoil within hours unless cooked or processed in some way that allows them to remain out of refrigeration.
A Side Note about Eggs:
Fresh eggs you have gathered yourself can be stored out of refrigeration if you know the technique(s). Do not attempt the following techniques if the fresh eggs are over three days old.
Various methods that were common in years past include using sodium silicate, also known as “waterglass”, and using lard to coat, the eggs (use any method described with caution).
The following is a direct quota on the use of sodium silicate used for preserving fresh eggs:
“For preserving eggs: Only use fresh eggs, which have been wiped clean, but not washed. Mix eleven parts water with one part water glass in an earthenware crock. Place eggs in solution leaving about two inches of liquid above the eggs. One quart of water glass will treat about 16 dozen eggs”.
“Mix one part Water glass with ten parts cooled, boiled water and pour into a large, stone crock. Wipe off fresh eggs with a flannel cloth and place in solution (eggs should be covered with 2″). Cover crock and store in a cool, dry place”.
(From The Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer, ® 1886)
Some today still coat fresh eggs with melted lard or cooking oil so they are stable out of the refrigerator. If using lard dip or coat the eggs then let cool and then wipe/buff the eggs and dip/coat again then buff once more. This method fills in the pores in the eggshell that helps seals out contaminates. If done correctly the eggs can be stored out of refrigeration up to 90 days or even longer in some cases. Do not process eggs using this method if they have cracks in them.
Now, back to the other foods in the refrigerator, the information provided about eggs demonstrates the type of information a Prepper or others may need during a crisis or extended power outage.
Produce can be stored out of refrigeration and depending on how long it had been stored prior to the outage; you may have up to five days. Cooling certain fruits and vegetables slows the ripening process so tomatoes and certain other fruits and vegetables will begin to ripen quickly once allowed to warm up.
The fruits and vegetables produce an odorless colorless gas called ethylene, which triggers the production of enzymes. Because this process is now well-known producers and retailers can control the ripening process, so you really do not know how long it has been from harvest to your table.
Breads can stay on the shelf and to increase the shelf life allow the bread to go stale by removing the wrappers. To speed up the process take any fresh bread and toast it over heat. Stale or toasted bread has less moisture content. Removing the moisture from the bread is important to prevent the growth of mold, which needs moisture to breed.
Hard cheeses will be fine out of refrigeration and if any mold does appear, it can be trimmed off. This only applies to real cheese that is made with enzymes that cause the cheese to come together and when made using cream or unpasteurized milk. This does not apply to processed cheese or cheese spreads made with oils. It is important that you know the difference.
Vinegar or similar acid based condiments can be stored on the shelf. Catsup, hot sauces and mustard are just a few condiments that can be kept out of refrigeration.
Baked goods, (pies, cakes and other baked deserts) can stay out of refrigeration until you find them too dry to eat (stale) or they begin to show mold.
Remove ice from the ice bin to melt down for drinking water and to prevent water damage if it begins to leak or use the ice in coolers to help keep foods chilled.
Fresh meats can be cooked for immediate use; immediate use means it must be eaten within a relatively short time after cooking within three hours typically.
You can dry the meats for preserving as well. Meats not recommend for drying include pork and mutton.
It is important that you do not allow foods to spoil in the refrigerator. This will create odors, and deadly bacteria and it will attract insects and rodents. Once food has spoiled, you would never want to use the refrigerator again.
Coolers can be used to help prolong your fresh foods if you have ice cubes or have some frozen water jugs or you can use snow by packing it on top of the foods in a cooler. If it is cold outside you may place some foods outside as long as they are not placed in the sun.
Radiant heating will warm up surfaces past the freezing mark even if the air temperature is below freezing (why roads and driveways thaw faster) and well above the safe holding temperatures for many foods in some cases.
Place the foods inside of a container (Tupperware containers for example) to protect the foods from rodents/predators. The containers should allow the cold to penetrate unless you are using coolers that are being chilled inside by ice or snow.
Basements below ground can also be used. In years past root cellars were used and as the name implies root vegetables were stored there year around. Anything that needs chilling can be stored in a below ground basement to include milk, eggs and fresh meats.
Here are a few facts:
The temperature in the ground below 20 ft (6meters) is roughly equal to the mean annual air temperature at that latitude at the surface. What does this mean? It means that depending on latitude, the temperature beneath the upper 20 ft of the earth’s surface maintains a nearly constant temperature between 50 and 60 ᵒF (10 and 16 °C) (US Department of Energy, 2014) .
What Is a Springhouse?
Before refrigeration and even after refrigerators were more common people stored their perishable foods in well houses or in a springhouse. Natural springs in many cases were a source of water for a homestead. The spring would bubble out of the ground or even through rock fissures. To protect the water source from animals and insects a springhouse was built over the spring. A springhouse was typically built from rocks natural to the area, which also helped to maintain a cooler temperature inside the structure.
A cistern was usually built to allow the water to pool to make collection of the water easier. The chilled water bubbling from the earth and then collecting in a pool would evaporate and cool the springhouse. Certain things like milk in glass bottles or other waterproof containers were stored in the water.
The above information once presented seems like common sense information but unless you have practiced some of the methods or techniques, they may never come to mind when needed.
Spoiled food may not seem like a big deal right now but once you are presented with 20 pounds of spoiled meats and other products, when the lights go out, it is a big deal, and it will consume your time and creates frustration and even anger. Neither of which you need in a survival situation.
There is a lot more to survival than meets the eye and in most cases, you do not realize all that can go wrong until it does. Pre-warned is pre-armed they say, so learn what can go wrong now so you can come up with a plan to keep the small things from escalating into big problems when you are in the midst of a crisis.
US Department of Energy. (2014). Retrieved 2014, from http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/