Keeping Food Cool Without Electricity – Off-Grid Living

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What happens if a storm hits, and you’re without power for a week or longer? How long would your food supply last without electricity? What if you live Off-grid, how will you cool your food? Find out the answer all of these questions and more. In this article you will learn how to keep food cool without electricity.

Food Storage Safety

The first step in food storage is knowing what temperatures food needs to be stored, what is safe and what is dangerous.

Keep-refrigerated

Some foods need to be stored at 40° F or Below, some from 40- 50° F and others can be fine stored at room temperature. Therefore, you need to know what foods require what temperature.

40° F & Below Foods

According to the FDA, foods that require refrigeration should be kept at a temperature at or below 40° F (4° C), such as:

Food-preservation

  • Meat

  • Poultry

  • Seafood

  • Dairy Products

  • Sauces

  • Cooked Foods

  • Eggs*

  • Opened Condiments

Room Temp Foods

Foods that can be stored without refrigeration include (but not limited to):

  • Honey

  • Oils

  • Unopened Canned Food

  • Dried beans, rice, pasta

  • Coffee

  • Bread

  • Onions

  • Butter

  • Tomatoes

  • Bananas

  • Potatoes

  • Winter Squash

Zeer Pot and Pot Cooler

Ever hear of a Zeer Pot or a Pot Cooler? Their use dates back to 2500 B.C. in Egypt and many remote areas still use them to keep their food cool.

The premise of using Zeer Pots to keep food cool without electricity is by using a method called evaporative cooling.

When the water in the pot evaporates, it draws the heat outward thus lowering the temperature of the inside pot.

Sand To Keep Food Cool

Many root vegetables can be stored in sand for months without any refrigeration whatsoever.

Such as: carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, ginger and more.

Storing root vegetables in sand helps keep the moisture, air and humidity at the right temperature in order to prevent ripening and rotting.

Evaporation Coolers

Much like the Zeer Pot, an evaporative cooler is a device that cools air through the evaporation of water.

Evaporative cooling is the addition of water vapor into air, which causes a lowering of the temperature of the air.

Another type of cooler that uses this same principle to store food without electricity is a Swamp Cooler. However, Swamp Coolers require electricity.

Root Cellar

No doubt one of the methods for keeping food cool that you may be more familiar with is Root Cellars.

They are more commonplace today for storing root vegetables, canned goods, fruits and nuts.

Most of the root cellars you will see are buried either partially or fully into the ground.

Coal/Charcoal Cooler

Much like the Zeer Pot and Evaporation Cooler, the Coal Cooler uses the principal of evaporative cooling to maintain a cool interior temperature for refrigeration and food preservation.

The device is constructed from an open timber frame with charcoal filled sides, which is kept continually moist.

As warm, dry air flows through the moist charcoal, water is evaporated into the air and it is cooled. The basic principles of heat and mass transfer underlie the function of the charcoal cooler.

Materials you would need to make your own coal cooler are:

  • Wood

  • Wire

  • Nails

  • Coal

  • Hose For Water

  • Door

  • Hinges

Insulated Cooler, Ice Or Dry Ice

And lastly you have the traditional coolers with ice or dry ice.
While this is a great option, and you can easily keep food at the proper temperature, it’s not a self-sufficient option.

Cooler

You would need to purchase often ice and have a store nearby. But in a pinch or for a short time, this is a quick fix.

Food Preservation

In addition to refrigeration, there are many other ways to preserve food.

Some Food Storage Ideas are:

  • Dehydration

  • Waxing

  • Canning

  • Freeze Dried

  • Salt Cured

  • Oil Curing

  • Fermenting

Food Poison

When using alternate methods for keeping food cool, food safety should be a top priority. Food poisoning is not a fun thing. In fact, it can be life-threatening.

Although most food poison cases often improve without treatment after 48 hrs, food poisoning can be very serious and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Be aware that food can make you very sick even when it doesn’t look, smell, or taste spoiled. That’s because foodborne illnesses are caused by pathogenic bacteria, which are different from the spoilage bacteria that make foods “go bad.” Many pathogenic organisms are present in raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs; unclean water; and on fruits and vegetables. Keeping these foods properly chilled will slow the growth of bacteria.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Food Poisoning Symptoms can be:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain and cramps

  • Fever

If you suspect you have food poison, seek medical attention immediately. Above all- be safe & never eat food that is questionable.