Food Storage With Limited Refrigeration | Become A Cruiser

Food Storage With Limited Refrigeration

Asian market with fish for sale. Food storage can be a challenge for boats with limited refrigeration
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Seafood for sale at a Thai market.

Food storage with limited refrigeration – Keeping your fruits and vegetables fresh for longer with limited refrigeration is very important. Here are the tips that have worked for me. I have adopted these tips over the years by talking to other cruisers and through trial and error.

Food Storage Tips For Keeping Produce Fresh For Longer

Thai Market scene. After shopping, take care with food storage.
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Cruisers in Asia have access to the most amazing selection of fresh ingredients

Keeping Eggs Fresh With Limited Refrigeration

You can store fresh eggs for a long time. If possible buy non-refrigerated eggs, keep them out, and don’t refrigerate them. Put the eggs in a plastic egg container and throw out the cardboard packaging. Flip the eggs over daily to keep them fresh for longer.

If you have had your eggs for a while and you want to check if the eggs are fresh, put an egg in a glass of water. If your egg sinks it is good and if it floats it is not good. But remember, don’t wash your eggs when you first buy them because this will remove their protective layer and shorten their life.

Refrigerated eggs have been washed and therefore cannot be kept outside of the fridge. If you buy refrigerated eggs make sure you keep them refrigerated. Powdered eggs are a great option but are very difficult to find.

Keeping Vegetables Fresh for Longer

Leafy greens are difficult to keep fresh for a long time and it takes work to keep them fresh. I put my vegetables in a Debbie Meyer Green bag and add a piece of paper towel to soak up any moisture. Replace the paper every second day. Thank goodness all vegetables aren’t as high maintenance as leafy greens.

Celery, carrots, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, etc. stay fresh for up to four weeks if you wrap them in aluminum foil and refrigerate them. Make sure that you use enough foil because if there is an air hole the vegetables won’t last and you will have a rotten foil package in the fridge.

Potatoes, I refrigerate if I have space but I don’t wrap them in foil. Cabbage I wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Garlic and Onions are stored in a cool dry place but aren’t refrigerated. Be sure to break the garlic off the heads if you want to get an extra few weeks out of your garlic.

Keeping Fruit Fresh For Longer

To keep your fruit fresh for longer wash it in cold water when you bring it home with a tiny bit of dish soap. Citrus lasts longer if you keep it refrigerated especially limes. Apples I refrigerate in a plastic bag. Papayas I wrap in a paper towel and keep in a cool dry place.

We are often given bananas straight of the tree. So I rinse in the ocean prior to putting them on the boat to get rid of any bugs hiding in the bunch. Don’t store tomatoes in the fridge they lose all their flavor I keep them in a bowl in a cool spot. Most other fruits I store in my fruit hammock, so I can keep an eye on it and eat it while it’s still fresh. When packing the fruit hammock be sure to put the softer fruits on the top layer to avoid damage.

Berries aren’t readily available in the tropics, but if you do get lucky enough to find them they need to be refrigerated and last longer if you give them a vinegar rinse and then wrap them in a paper towel which is changed regularly. I suggest you eat them as soon as possible.

Food Storage With Limited Refrigeration

Luckily we have a lot of fridge space on our boat. If your boat has limited refrigeration or a tiny fridge I highly recommend the eBook Storing Food Without Refrigeration. If refrigeration is an issue you can use long-life shelf stabilized milk or powdered milk.

I recommend powdered milk as it takes up way less storage space. Powdered milk is much lighter than liquid milk which is very important on a catamaran, and I think it tastes better too. A great bonus is that if you get into cheese making you can use powdered milk. Shelf stabilized UHT milk doesn’t work for cheese making as the proteins have been ‘burnt’.

You can also buy Anchor and a few other brands of butter in a can that do not need to be refrigerated until it is opened. Canned butter lasts years in a cool bilge or cupboard. There is also canned cream, real canned cream not the palm oil goop substitute. I pick up canned cream every time I come across it. And as I mentioned earlier powdered eggs are fantastic if you are lucky enough to find them.

Food Storage Tips For Long Trips

If I know I’m going to be away from good provisioning for say six weeks or more. I pre-plan for the trip. I squeeze the juice from limes with my lime squeezer (I don’t know how I survived without one of these). Then freeze the juice in silicone ice trays and then transfer it into a ziplock in the freezer.

I also preserve garlic and store it in olive oil. Garlic lasts months in olive oil after preserving it and it tastes way better than the minced bottled stuff. Any fresh herbs I have I blend using my Nutribullet and store them in olive oil with some citric acid. I also chop up Mangos and Papayas and freeze them. Some cruisers can their proteins, such as meat and fish. But I have never seen the need for this. Surprisingly people eat all over the world.

Useful TipWhich Foods You Shouldn’t Store Together

While in Grenada, Lisa the market lady insisted I use a separate shopping bag for my limes and avocado pears. Apparently “limes are difficult” and it doesn’t matter how short the trip is they need to stay away from avocados. The same is true for all citrus. Some other foods you shouldn’t store together are pumpkins and apples. Also keep apples away from citrus. Don’t store onions with potatoes, the potatoes and onions start growing faster.

Asian market with fish for sale
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Hi, I’m Nic! Our Family of four have been out cruising since 2016. We have sailed about 15,000nm, almost halfway around the world. We sold everything, took the leap of faith, and bought a 10-year-old Lagoon 380 ex-charter catamaran. We’ve fixed every system on the boat, often more than once. Cruising has been such a wonderful, positive experience for our family that I want to share my tips to help you Become a Cruiser.

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