Among the many things we were tested with during Hurricane Sandy was the way in which we can preserve our food in the middle of a disaster.
My family spreads out from Flatbush to Boro Park, Staten Island, New Jersey and Monsey. Two of my sons, Baruch Hashem, had previously bought generators. They successfully used them to prevent loss of their food, while waiting for their electric to be repaired in their respective neighborhoods. However, many others have been without power for weeks now.
Whenever I do Tupperware demonstrations where I share my freezer tricks, I stress how important it is to always have a full freezer. In case of a blackout, an unopened full freezer will keep fresh for 72 hours before the food will have to be used or tossed out! If the freezer is not full, the food will only last 12 hours!
What do you do if you haven’t gone shopping or cooked enough food to fill your freezer? There is a trick I recommend to fool your freezer into “acting” like it is full.
Fill any container you have with water. Tear small strips of blank paper and tuck it in each container so most of it hangs out of the container and is visible to you. Once, frozen, they containers will fill up the air space in your freezer allowing it to work at full capacity. If you stand next to your refrigerator, you will hear the motor going on and off less often due as it will be working more efficiently!
Another quick tip, this one about ice crystals forming in containers, which is not unusual. It can happen as a result of rapid temperatures, the amount of moisture in the food being stored, and the amount of air space in the container.
When a sealed container is placed in the freezer, it undergoes a quick change in temperature. When it is coupled with the colder freezer air, it draws out the moisture from the air and surface of the contents. Should you wish to eliminate these crystals, place a sheet of crumpled wax paper directly on the food you are freezing. This uses up the air space. Several popular brands of ice cream now have layer of plastic wrap attached to the cover of the carton for this purpose.
Now, what about the food in the refrigerator food? Or how do you know if something has gone bad?
EGGS–When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime!
DAIRY PRODUCTS—Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can’t get any more spoiled that it is already. Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese, but you realize you’ve never purchased that kind!
BREAD—Sesame seeds and poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable “spots” that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy and hairy looking white or green growth, are a good indication that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment.
FLOUR—Flour is spoiled when it has polka dots that wiggle!
CANNED GOODS—Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of – carefully.
CARROTS—A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh!
RAISINS—Raisins should not be harder than your teeth.
POTATOES—Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.
CHIP DIP—If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.
UNMARKED ITEMS—You know it is well beyond prime, when you’re tempted to discard the container along with the food! Generally speaking, containers should not burp when you open them!
Going through a disaster, does give us a renewed perspective on keeping our families safer and our food storage intact and not spoiled.
What we can all use these days is lots of comfort foods and one of my favorites is Vegetable Barley Soup! I may have already shared this recipe with you, but it does bear repeating! I give credit to my daughter-in-law, Laya, for introducing the soup to use several years ago.