Chilling Food Without Electricity

Reproduced from Practical Action

Practical Action is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries. Registered in the United Kingdom, they find out what people are doing and help them to do it better. Through technology they enable poor communities to build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions – transforming their lives forever and protecting the world around them. Practical Action works directly in more than 45 developing countries across the world. They have an extensive library of simple techniques to solve survival problems.  

Zeer PotThe Zeer Pot Fridge -How a clay pot refrigerator can help beat hunger

In hot climates, food doesn’t stay fresh for long. Tomatoes go off in just two days. After four days carrots and okra are rotten. With no means of preserving their crops, poverty stricken families have been battling hunger and even famine.

One ingenious solution is the zeer pot. Using this simple technology, the same vegetable can last for up to 20 days. This all natural refrigerator offers families, who already succeed in food production, their right to food preservation and really can help to improve their everyday lives; for now and for the future.

Zeer Pot – Simple technology that brings fresh hope

The zeer pot is a simple fridge made of local materials. It consists of one earthenware pot set inside another, with a layer of wet sand in between (about 2 inches). As the moisture evaporates it cools the inner pot, keeping up to 12kg (~26 lbs.) of fruit and vegetables fresher for longer. Wet down twice daily. The pots should be covered with a ceramic lid or wet cloth. They should be kept in a well ventilated area but out of direct sunlight. The pots work best when placed on a metal frame for better air circulation. The average temperature drops 23.5 º F. below the outside temperature. Drier climates work best. They are often called the “desert refrigerator.”

Use a Zeer Pot to store fruits and vegetables

Deterioration of fruits and vegetables during storage depends largely on temperature. One way to slow down this change and so increase the length of time fruits and vegetables can be stored, is by lowering the temperature to an appropriate level. It must be remembered that if the temperature is too low the produce will be damaged and also that as soon as the produce leaves the cold store, deterioration starts again and often at a faster rate.

The ceramic refrigerator has proved very successful and it has been tested with a number of different vegetables. For example tests have shown that these foods can be kept fresh for the following amount of time:

Tomatoes – 3 weeks          Okra – 2 weeks          Rocket – 5 days        Carrots – 20 days        Meat – 14 days

In a short or long term interruption of electricity in the US, this could make a difference in preventing food spoilage as well as providing some variety in one’s diet. They are currently being used successfully in Sudan, Gambia and Nigeria, Africa. Consider adding this technique to your knowledge base.

Zeer pot

Reproduced with Permission

Additional References:

The Zeer pot emergency refrigerator –

Gambian farmers benefit from Sudanese fridge –

 June 2014




Tuna Casserole from Food Storage

Tuna CasseroleTuna Casserole

All the ingredients in this recipe came from food storage. We rotated out the oldest items from our shelves. On a 70 degree day, the sun came out in the afternoon. We started this at 3:30PM and cooked it until 5:30PM. Temperature held at 300 degrees. The casserole was nice and bubbly hot throughout and the flavors were well blended.


3 – 5 oz White tuna canned in water, drained
1 – 12 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
2 – 15 oz cans of baby peas, drained
16 oz. macaroni or wide egg noodles, pre-boiled
2 TBS capers
1 – 4 oz. jar pimentos
15 oz. mayonaise
White pepper to taste


Preheat the Sun Oven® while mixing the ingredients. Mix the ingredients lightly in a bowl. Place in a greased casserole dish and top with Italian bread crumbs. Bake in the Sun Oven for two hours ’til hot and bubbly. These ingredients will make two 9×12″ casseroles. Cook one today and save the other in your refrigerator for a couple of days. It will be welcome a second time.

Honey, More than Just a Sweetener

honeyHoney is a viscous sweetener

made naturally by bees, from the nectar of plants, for their own consumption. After collection, the bees regurgitate the nectar into hexagonal-sided honeycomb cells made of wax and stored inside a bee hive. The constant fanning by the bees’ wings cause evaporation creating the sweet liquid we call honey. The color and flavor of honey will vary based on the flower nectar collected. Beekeepers harvest honey by collecting the honeycomb frames and scraping off the wax cap made by the bees to seal the honey in each cell.  Spinning the frames in a centrifuge extracts the liquid from each cell.

It is a versatile food staple and with a little care, can be stored indefinitely. Honey found in Egyptian tombs was still good after 2,000 years. Consider adding it to your emergency supplies.

Raw honey,

processed with a minimal amount of heat, contains many phytonutrients which provide anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. There are three key health benefits: it is a natural energy booster,  a great immune system builder, and  a natural remedy for many ailments

When you use it in cooking instead of sugar, reduce the amount by 1/2, reduce liquid by 1/4 cup and reduce cooking temperature 25º.

As a remedy for ailments, it can be used for hangovers, sore throats, sleeplessness, and cuts and burns. Mix it with vinegar for a self-detox, with cinnamon for bad breath and hair loss, and with milk to improve digestion. Do not feed it to babies less than a year old because of the danger of botulism.

Recent declines in honey bee populations

have researchers looking for causes. Their results show a complex mix of pesticide and fungicide exposure and bee pathogens as the problem.  Some regulatory agencies are considering stricter controls on agricultural chemicals used as part of the solution.

Billie Nicholson

5 Food Storages Lies to Watch Out For

Thanks to Jeff at LPC Survival for contributing this article. 

LPC_5_Food_Storage_Lies-300x300I have noticed a trend over the last few years when it comes to food storage,  A lot of companies are claiming anything in order to get your business. I wanted to expose these things as food storage lies, whether intentional or not. At the very least, they are misleading claims, but having received many calls and emails from food storage companies, I had to share this list of what I see as food storage lies or misleading statements when it comes to purchasing long term food storage.

Lie #1: “Our dehydrated pouched Food Storage meals last 25 years.”

The most prolific of all the lies, this one doesn’t reveal the fact that the food must be stored at 55 degrees or less at all times. The chances of you storing it at 55 degrees is extremely rare.  They don’t even put this on their web sites, and won’t even tell you on the phone.  Once you get the bucket, you will see the fine print.  Some may not even have this fact on the bucket when you get it.  Also, one Food Storage company who claims a 25 year shelf life has even admitted to me that they use the claim just to be “competitive.” Integrity should be the first thing a company stands by. I have seen reputable companies offer Freeze dried food in pouches and only claim 10-12 year shelf life. That is what I look for.
Lie #2: “Our Food Storage is Non-GMO.”
If any company says that, I would specifically ask them for what certifications they have.  Then have them email you the certifications. Don’t let them say I will get back to you, demand to see them before placing your order. If they have a USDA Organic Certification or another reputable GMO testing certification, then they have something to back up the claim. Buyer Beware on this Claim, be sure to see the evidence.
Lie #3: “Our Food Storage is Gluten Free.”
    This is mostly done over the phone, but I have seen it on some of their web sites. This claim goes a long with the Non-GMO claim, ask for certifications and make sure they are from organizations that you find reputable. Ask for certifications before thinking about purchasing any of their food storage. I also recommend calling the certification companies, and talking with them about the process.  Your health could be at stake, I recommend being extremely cautious of any food storage company that claims Gluten Free.  Making Gluten Free food can be pricy, so if the prices are low or comparable to their regular meals,  I would look elsewhere.
Lie #4: “Our Pouches are nitrogen flushed and have an oxygen absorber in them, which helps them last 25 years.”
While the first part of this claim is true, the 2nd part is not. They can also say they double or triple nitrogen flush the pouches, its all marketing.  Also, check Lie #1 for their claim of 25 years.

(If you are unfamiliar with nitrogen flushing, here is a basic description of what it is:
Nitrogen flushing is a type of preservation method used with packaged foods such as coffee beans, nuts, rice cakes, snack crackers and chips. When you go to the grocery store to buy a bag of chips, you’ll probably notice the bag is puffed and filled with ‘air.’ But it’s not exactly like the air we breathe because the package doesn’t contain oxygen.
When processed food is exposed to oxygen, it deteriorates – oils go rancid, discoloration occurs and the food spoils. Oxygen can be removed from the packaging by removing all of the air with a vacuum, which will increase the shelf life of the food packed inside.)

Lie #5: “We have Celebrity and Radio personalities that endorse our products”
These are paid endorsements and some of them are very costly endorsements. I wonder if these people have even tried the meals which they endorse, as they seem to mimic each other when the ads run.  Don’t fall for the marketing, if there is a high profile endorsement, I personally won’t buy it.
Lastly, there are reputable food storage companies and organizations to buy food storage from. The ones I personally purchase are either 100% freeze dried, USDA Organic, or minimally processed. I avoid dehydrated Meals because I have seen that they are highly processed.

Be sure to check the list above before falling for what I call: “Food Storage Lies”.       -Jeff

LPC Survival have helped thousands of people get better prepared. Visit them at LPC Survival      Reproduced with Permission

Emergency Preparation – Basic Need: Food

Food storage has three major components:

What to store, where to keep it and how long to hold it. The first thing to consider is what kinds of food will you and your family eat? You can start with a short term, say three days. Select items that your family likes to eat and that can be stored without needing refrigeration. Select small containers that can be consumed in one meal, that come with easy open lids (be sure to have a manual can opener in your stash), and do not need to be heated. Items like tuna,  chicken or peanut butter will store well and can be eaten on the go, if necessary. Be sure to check the “best if used by” dates on cans or packages. This will give you an idea of how long to hold items and when to begin to rotate them. For longer term storage, assuming that you will be sheltering in place, break your food storage down into different types of ingredients, like baking components, canned or freeze-dried goods (vegetables, protein sources like meat, beans and eggs, as well as fruit and soups), seasonings, and starches. Date items when acquired and store them with the oldest items out front for easy access.
As you shop each week get extra cans of  the food you eat, like tomato sauce, green beans, fruit or soup. Do the same with dried beans, canned tuna, and starches, etc. This way you can begin to accumulate the items you like. It will not take long to realize what a benefit this is for non-emergency times.  Not everyone is so organized that they plan a week’s menu in advance. If you have extra items on hand, you can be creative and spontaneous. Remember to include replacements for the items you eat each week in your shopping list.  You can include non-food items like paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste and soap into this longer term storage plan as well. With extra items on hand, you can watch for sales and save money as well.

Variety will be key

Variety will be key as you accumulate extra food items. Mix in some frozen things for short term storage (most frozen foods will keep three months). They will taste different from canned items and will need to be processed and eaten quickly should there be a long term electric grid failure.

food storage

Setting up a storage place

Setting up a storage place to keep your extras will be necessary when kitchen cabinets and pantry spaces are full. When selecting a space, keep in mind that the best temperature for food is generally 40º to 50º F. Higher temperatures will shorten the shelf life (the time food is at optimal nutritional value) and locations with temperature swings are worse. The space you choose should be dry. High humidity will cause cans to rust and mold to grow in flours and cereals. Good air flow will reduce the moisture impact. Round cans allow better air flow than rectangular ones. Store foods in a dark place to combat the effects of light. Cardboard boxes added protection to items stored in glass jars.
The presence of oxygen can be a problem for some dry foods. It causes oils to go rancid and allows insects, fungi and aerobic bacteria a place to grow. Food purchased for long term storage is processed to exclude oxygen. Items you buy in bulk will need to be repackaged with oxygen absorbers (see July, 2013 – Every Needful Thing). Stored grains are often contaminated with insects. Canning jars and mylar bags are good oxygen barriers. Dry foods, nuts and crackers that can go rancid should be rotated more often.
Protect your storage space from rodents. They can squeeze through the smallest spaces.

September 2013, Every Needful Thing                              Billie A. Nicholson

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