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27 May 2016

Flashback Friday | Living Without A Fridge On A Sailboat In New Zealand


Originally, I had planned on posting another installment of the tale of The Fair Maiden vs. The Great Machine on the blog today. But, two things got in the way: 

1 - I still don't have a happy fairy tale ending to the story. 

The Great Machine has fallen into an enchanted slumber and I can't seem to awaken it. I even tried kissing it, like the handsome Prince did with Sleeping Beauty. Yuck - that was really gross and had no effect. The Great Machine continues to lay in a comatose state in its chamber. Hopefully, some elves are going to come help me prod its belly next week, it'll wake up, things will end happily ever after and I'll have another installment for you soon.

2 - I'm feeling a bit lazy today.

As I was pondering what to put on the blog today, I stumbled across a Flashback Friday blog hop at A Life Examined (I do love a good blog hop). The idea is to republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.

We started this blog almost three years ago and have a lot more followers now then we did back then. I figure that there are probably a number of our earlier blog posts that many of you haven't seen before which might be of interest. So, I thought I would give this a whirl and share a blast from the past.

Like this little flashback to when we were getting ready to move aboard our 26' sailboat, Rainbow's End, in New Zealand and live full-time on her for a season. While she was a great little boat, she had one major drawback - no fridge! Like many new cruisers, I had been scouring books, blogs and articles for tips and tricks on food storage and cooking on boats and identified some things to try out on Rainbow's End. Have a look and let me know what you think.

By the way, one of the top things on my wish list for our next boat was a fridge and I'm happy to say that Tickety Boo has one.

{This post originally appeared in November 2013   you can find the original post and comments here.}

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There are a number of things I'm going to have to learn to live without when we move onto our boat full-time in New Zealand next month and one of them is a fridge. Yep, that's right, no fridge. I figure it shouldn't be too bad. After all, I haven't had a clothes dryer for over ten years since we moved to Scotland and I still don't have one living in New Zealand. I thought it was strange, but I adjusted. People back in the States seem very perplexed by our lack of a dryer. You can only imagine their reaction to the news that we're also giving up another major appliance. But I like to prove people wrong, so I will adjust to not having a fridge and smile while I do it. Well most of the time anyway.

In preparing for my new life of room temperature food, I've been scouring various books and websites for some tips on food storage and here are eight things I'm going to try. I'll give you an update in a few months and let you know how it goes. Hopefully, we'll avoid food poisoning and the smell of rotting food.

1 - Eggs 

This one will be easy. In addition to not commonly finding clothes dryers in Scotland and New Zealand, it is rare to find eggs that are refrigerated. While it kind of freaked me out at first to find them on the shelf next to the peanut butter, I'm completely used to it now. The big difference is that these days I put them in my fridge when I get home. Going forward, I'll be skipping that step. Instead, I'll become an egg turner. Pretty much everything you read about egg storage talks about turning your eggs over every few days so that the inside of the shell remains moist. This keeps air from entering the eggshell which causes them to spoil.

2 - Milk 

Another easy one. I already use powdered milk at home for my coffee and cooking. I got tired of having to try to remember to buy cartons of milk and found mornings very challenging if I was out of milk for my coffee. So I switched to powered milk a few years ago and I never run out because it comes in a big bag. It is also much cheaper which is a plus.

3 - Lemons 

We like to have gin and tonics in our cockpit when the sun is setting and they are much nicer with lemon. Last summer on the boat, we bought one of those plastic lemons with juice inside thinking that would last longer than fresh lemons. Which wasn't the brightest move. You wouldn't normally leave orange juice out of the fridge for a few days and expect it to be fine. Doesn't work for plastic lemons either. So we'll go back to fresh lemons except this time I'm going to wrap them in aluminum foil. Theoretically this should keep them fresh for several weeks.

4 - Meat 

Despite my short-lived teenage vegetarian rebellion, I still like to eat meat. We aren't the biggest carnivores out there, but we do enjoy meat from time to time especially in tacos. Fresh meat is going to become a luxury for us and probably more something that we eat when we're on land. Instead of having beef or chicken on a regular basis, we'll rely on Skipper Scott's fishing prowess to catch us fresh snapper, as well as eating more vegetarian recipes. I am going to buy a few canned meat products to test out as well. We'll see how that goes. The thought of Spam doesn't seem too appealing (unless Monty Python are singing about it), but canned chicken might be okay.

5 - Cans 

I've become a big fan of canned goods the past few months. Not only will we not have a fridge, we also won't have regular access to the big Kiwi grocery stores such as Countdown and New World. There are smaller grocery stores in other parts of the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand, such as in Coromandel Town and on some of the islands, but the prices are higher and the selection smaller. So I'm planning on stocking up on a variety of canned goods so that we can whip up tasty meals wherever we are and not have to rely on a fridge to preserve things.

6 - Leftovers 

One of the big things we use our fridge for is to store leftovers. We won't have that option on our sailboat. And although Skipper Scott seems happy to play Russian Roulette with his digestive system from time to time and eat things that have been left out overnight, I'm thinking we need to change how we cook instead. So we'll be looking to adapt recipes to just make two servings of things.

7 - Condiments & Other Jarred Goodies 

I currently keep the usual condiments like ketchup, mustard and mayo in the fridge. They leave ketchup and mustard out on tables in restaurants all the time, so I'm sure it will be fine to keep ours out of a fridge too. I'm the only one that really eats mayo and I do so rarely so I think we'll just go without. 

I know there are lots of people out there who swear that you can keep it out of the fridge without a problem but the whole idea of that kind of scares me so I'll do without. I love jam and you can definitely keep that out of the fridge. After all, sugar is a natural preservative and jam sure has a lot of it in it. We also eat various other jarred goodies (such as jalapeƱos, capers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes etc.). I figure if they have oil or vinegar in them that should keep them preserved out of the fridge. Or at least that's the theory. Check back in a few months - hopefully there will be no tummy problems to report.

8 - Bread

We've only been able to keep a loaf of our favorite store bought bread (Vogel's) for a few days on the boat before it gets moldy. Since we won't be hitting the grocery store regularly, I'll be making our own bread. But in addition to not having a fridge, we don't have an oven either. So, I've been experimenting with various breads you can make in a skillet including scones, fry bread, naan etc. I'm also going to stock up on tortillas as they last a long time in the packaging that they come in.


Mr. Ketchup - you're in, welcome aboard!
Mrs. Mayo - sorry, you didn't make the grade and you'll be staying on shore.

Could you live without a fridge? What do you think would be the hardest part of not having a fridge? 

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi! 

You can find more Flashback Friday fun at A Life Examined.

39 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great challenge and experience. Just think - if we're ever hit with a major power outage, you've proven you can survive! Maybe you won't be able to use your skillet, but still...

    My mom has never had a dryer. It can be done!

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    1. It's amazing how quickly you adapt to things. At first, it was strange not to have a clothes dryer, but then it just became super ordinary. Of course, we always had clothes drying on the radiators, but it worked :-)

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  2. I've lived without a fridge at different points. I don't mind chick pea and tomato curry every night... but I think Matt and Hastings would revolt. I actually think our freezer might be more worthwhile than the fridge, since we can store fish and meats etc until needed.
    Have you ever used an omnia stovetop oven? We've been using ours everyday to make breads, scones, brownies, etc. its great- quicker and less annoying than our oven. -Lucy

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    1. Every time there's a drawing for an Omnia on The Boat Galley I enter in hopes that I'll win one. They look great. Especially, since they can be used to make brownies :-)

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  3. We have two refrigerators on our boat. They are both small, but I love having them. I've not a clue how we would manage without a way to keep our food cold. I'm guessing we'd figure it out as you did.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. You do find ways to adapt to your circumstances. I think it was easier for us in NZ as the climate wasn't very warm so it was easier to store stuff without a fridge.

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  4. You can leave mayo out of the fridge. Just always use a clean utensil or use a squeeze bottle and you are good to go. plastic upholstery snapsWe nevervtake up precious fridge space with mayo and look forward to buying unrefrigerated eggs because those take up space, too. We eat a lot of eggs. Now about that foil/lemon trick. Did that work?

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    1. I know lots of people don't store they mayo in the fridge and swear by it. But, because Scott doesn't really like it and I shouldn't really eat it, we just don't keep any on board, which frees up space for more important things like chocolate. The lemons worked okay. It would be interesting to test the theory in a hotter climate though.

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  5. Not sure I could manage without a fridge. Mostly because I like cheese too much and that has to be refrigerated.

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    1. There's folks that actually store cheese without refrigeration. Cheese with wax coating (like Edam) store really well, as does processed cheese like Laughing Cow. Other cheeses do okay as well.

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  6. I'm not a water lover and I'd die without a fridge, so no boat for me! You had some smart ideas in there, though. I disagree with mayo and ketchup lasting long in the heat, and salt is a natural preservative not sugar. Sugar turns to alcohol, so jams, fruit drinks, fruits or even cookies with fruit fillings can turn to alcohol. (Happens to me all the time with grapes, and even our jam sometimes goes bad IN the fridge.) I'm impressed by your perseverance and tolerance!

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    1. Wow - you had jam go bad in the fridge! Yuck! We keep ours un-refrigerated and have never had a problem. Fingers crossed it continues that way.

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  7. If you have a deep bilge, it might work to keep things cool. I used to keep my beer in it.

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    1. Unfortunately, we don't have a deep bilge, but fortunately, we do have a fridge on our current boat so we can keep our beer chilled :-)

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  8. What a great post! I have never heard of eggs being stored on a shelf! Here in Montreal, Canada, they are all in fridges in the stores and I put them right into the fridge when I get home.

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    1. Thanks Linda! It was a real shocker first time I went egg shopping and kept looking for them next to the milk and butter only to find them on a shelf next to peanut butter. If you buy eggs that have already been refrigerated, then you have to keep them refrigerated though.

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  9. Yes, there are way too many things put in fridges that don't need to be. Of course, it also depends how long you have between grocery stops, and what your ambient temperature is. And the ambient temperature of the water. I think the leftovers would be alright in a sealed bag hung over the side till next lunchtime, wouldn't they? Although I've always favoured cold pizza for breakfast :)

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    1. Cold pizza is always a great breakfast, assuming there's any left over from the night before :-)

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  10. Life without a fridge? I think I'd fail miserably at this point of my life. I'm actually trying to have MORE fridge, as in cook ahead, freeze it and stop making so many trips to the grocery on a whim. See? I'm pitiful.

    Great blog! (First time here! Not the last...)

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    1. If I lived on land, I'd be freezing lots of meals. I really wish we had a freezer now as I hate leftovers and often a lot of food goes to waste. If we had a freezer I could pop the leftovers in there and then eat them at a later date. So, no, you're not pitiful, you're smart :-)

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  11. I have never lived without a fridge, so I don't know how well that would go. Denali Rose has 2 fridges, the "dive in" counter opening one, and a very old, super power inefficient front door Norcold. I want to replace the front loader with one that has drawers.... I drooled over one at a boat show. That kind of upgrade will be massively expensive, as we have to pull the mast in order to remove and replace. (rolling eyes here) When we are away from the marina for extensive time, we turn the Norcold off, or only run it while motoring. I read about using tinfoil on celery from The Boat Galley, I didn't realize that it worked on other food items as well. AND, I always try to win the Omnia Oven too, but so far, no such luck.

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    1. Oh, a front loading fridge - wouldn't that be nice! Nothing worse then trying to find something in the dive in counter opening fridges only to find it's at the very bottom under tons of other stuff. Grrr.

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  12. On our 33 Morgan OI we had a custom cold plate frig installed. It ran off shore power or the engine. Would stay cold for a weekend on the hook w/o running the engine. Also made ice cubes!

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    1. Ice cubes! You're just trying to make me jealous :-)

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  13. I can easily picture living without a dryer, but not a fridge. In Australia where I'm from, there's a fierce and hard-fought debate over whether sauces should go in the fridge or just the cupboard. I'm a pacifist on this issue.

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    1. I think being a pacifist on these matters is a very wise move :-)

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  14. We couldn't live without refrigeration on our Whitby 42. Good food and cold drinks are way to important to us. On the other hand our clothes dryer is the sun and we jettisoned the washing machine that was on board when we bought her and replaced it with a plastic buckets with lids. Cheers

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    1. You're such a good cook, I can't imagine how you could do it without a fridge.

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  15. I would have a hard time adjusting to not having a fridge and don't much like the taste of powdered milk. Kudos to you for your ingenuity! You have an interesting lifestyle. I'll be back to read more. :)

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    1. If I lived on land, I wouldn't be without a fridge, that's for sure :-)

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  16. Well I wouldn't want to live without a fridge but if we had a disaster we do have a very cool cellar that we could store stuff in and we would just adapt to buying little and often. Of course that's easier when you're on land and the shops are a 5-10 minute walk away!

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    1. A cool cellar sounds like a great back-up plan. Isn't that how folks used to store lots of stuff back in the day?

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  17. I cannot live without a fridge. Where would I keep my ice cream? But a cheese maker in Belgium told me last week than I could leave his cheese on the counter for four months. Really?

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    1. It's probably a good thing for my waistline that we don't have a freezer because then I'd be eating ice cream all the time :-(

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  18. The hardest part of not having a fridge would actually be not having the freezer. I drink mostly water these days, but I only like it with lots of ice. Growing up, my family never put ketchup in the refrigerator. It's got vinegar, so maybe that's why it doesn't spoil. I had to train my husband not to put it in our refrigerator because, if you think about it, ketchup goes on hot food, so why in the world would you want it chilled?

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    1. Very good point about ketchup - it goes on hot food, why keep it cold. You see ketchup out all day long at restaurants, so I can't see why it needs to be refrigerated. A freezer is something I can only dream of at this point :-)

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  19. I could not live without a fridge on a boat. There are enough other things that I gladly sacrifice for a more simple life, but cold milk is not one of them. And, I am not even talking about ice cubes. I can live without those. We often used the little cold evaporator box inside the fridge to store (and freeze) meat before sailing to remote areas, foregoing the baggies with ice cubes (good invention for boats, by the way). FYI: you can definitely store mayonnaise outside the fridge. The trick is to use a clean utensil each time you want to take some out of the jar. We lived with this habit (which takes a little while to get used to, so start with extra space in the fridge when you first implement this new method, in case you screw up :-)) for many years, because we wanted to use the restricted space in our fridge for other foods.

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    1. I know other people keep may outside the fridge. If we ever decided to carry mayo on board, we'd probably do that too.

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  20. Back in the day, my G-parents kept their butter, milk etc in the well. You could do the same with a watertight container dropped over the side.

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