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  #1  
Old 05/13/08, 12:42 PM
HandsNHearts's Avatar  
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Life Without a Refrigerator?

I know it can be done...I'm just not sure how to do it. I guess I lack imagination in that area. I've lived 40 years with a refrigerator in my kitchen...I just don't know how to do without it.

But, times change...and refrigerator's get old and die off. That's where I'm at today. I have a nice sized barely-above-room-temp box in my kitchen right now. We need another one...I don't like the current prices for the size I think we need. We are a family of 10, avid milk drinkers (9 gallons or more a week) and currently I have things like chesses, lunch meats for the week, 17 doz eggs and so forth sitting in this large box.

We are making pound cakes and noodles today to salvage my eggs. The milk is a treat for the chickens and the hog as it tastes very warmed over.

How do you do without a fridge? We don't have a cow or milk goats currently, and it's terribly inconvenient to go to town daily to get milk for that day. I can freeze the eggs for later use, but what about things like sour cream, daily lunch items for the working class around here, etc?

Don't slap me for being ignorant here...we are working toward less town-sufficiency, but I never put much thought into what to do without a fridge.
Deanna

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  #2  
Old 05/13/08, 12:52 PM
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Can you get blocks of ice? If you can put some in each veggie drawer, maybe that will help. It won't help the freezer problem though.

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  #3  
Old 05/13/08, 01:04 PM
 
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I would check with Craigslist and you can get a decent or really nice, you decide how much you want to spend. I would probably do that because you will lose money by ruined food and also gas to go to grocery store daily doesn't sound like much of a plan at the current rate. You could probably do a cooler on the porch if it were winter and you lived in a cold climate, but with summer coming I would replace the old box with a relatively inexpensive one off craigslist. Just my two cents.....
Kelli

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  #4  
Old 05/13/08, 01:15 PM
A.T. Hagan
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Originally Posted by Topaz Farm View Post
Can you get blocks of ice? If you can put some in each veggie drawer, maybe that will help. It won't help the freezer problem though.
Yep. If you have a working chest or upright freezer then make your own ice blocks or buy ice by the block (not crushed) in town then put it in something that will contain the melt water. Put the blocks in the refrigerator freezer and the cold will fall down into the refrigerator below.

Not a long term solution but it will help you limp along until you can get a new fridge.

If that doesn't work do the ice block thing in coolers.

.....Alan.
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  #5  
Old 05/13/08, 01:17 PM
 
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We lived without electricity for about a year when I was a kid, and my parents bought block ice and kept perishables in a large cooler. It worked. You'd have to buy ice still, so it isn't a real self sufficiency solution. Otherwise, you'd just have to do without things that needed cooling.... and that's not much fun.

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  #6  
Old 05/13/08, 01:24 PM
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You can try Freecycle for your area. I see frigerators on it every once in a while here.

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  #7  
Old 05/13/08, 01:28 PM
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If you have a natural spring on your property you could build a spring house. It was what country folks did until fridges and electric were readily available. Ice houses and Ice chests as well. The spring house frees you from havig to buy ice and does an admirable job of keeping things cool. But the problem is you have to hike out to the sring house when you want something from the "fridge".

Good luck finding a new one at a decent price. It can be tough but they are out there.

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  #8  
Old 05/13/08, 01:28 PM
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First of all, eggs will keep for several days without refrigeration even in warm weather. They are the least of your concern.

For the rest of the stuff, get an ice box and some ice -- sounds like you may need several ice boxes, but they always come in handy for something later.

If it looks like being a long-term thing (and that is something we should all be prepared for), then there are other things you can do, but these should get you through for a while.

Oh, and yoghurt will keep unrefrigerated longer than milk will -- make your milk into yoghurt. If you can get some kefir grains, kefir doesn't need to be refrigerated at all, but it is, IMO, an acquired taste, and not everyone will drink it.

Kathleen

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  #9  
Old 05/13/08, 01:36 PM
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Well for starters about 70% of what most people keep in a refrigerator doesn't need to be in there at all.

As an example I typically don't refrigerate eggs. I grew up on a farm (or was it a plantation) that had lots of chickens and we sold lots of eggs. From old diaries I have learned that we sometimes sold over 80 dozen in a weeks time. They were never refrigerated but were kept in the coolest spot in the house, the hallway beside the stairs. Only cracked eggs were refrigerated and those were used promptly or given to the animals.

Ketchup, mustard, pickles, never refrigerated.

I went without a refrigerator for most of a year about 10 years ago. What finally caused me to break down and buy one was the lack of cool drinking fluid. During the summer the city tap water eventually gets warm and no matter how long your run it you can't get a really cool drink.

I also like salad dressing, i.e. Miracle Whip so would have to buy ice and keep it in a cooler or do without. Now a days one could get mayonaise in the small packets and get by that way.

I did have to be very careful with purchases and meal preps so that I wouldn't have left overs, or have them only the few times I had ice in a cooler.

I currently use one of the 7 cubic foot units which costs less to operate than a 100 watt light bulb. Lack of freezer space is the biggest problem, but I have a locker unit rented so it is a matter of buying when the locker can be accessed.

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  #10  
Old 05/13/08, 01:40 PM
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I bought a refrigerator/ freezer side by side a couple years ago off Craig's List, just to have extra storage for my eggs that I sell. It's not pretty, but it works great. The guy selling it worked for a moving company and would upgrade and replace his appliances with the ones people left behind when they moved out of their houses/ apartments. It cost me $50. There were several other fridges for sale on Craig's List at the time I was searching for one. The prices ranged from free to $500 for the really fancy ones. I ended up buying the side by side model, not because I really needed that style, but because the guy who had it was willing to meet me half way to exchange it, so I only drove about 12 miles to retrieve it

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  #11  
Old 05/13/08, 02:01 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: NE Utah
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We were without a working fridge for about a year when I was in high school (abt 25 yrs ago). We had a chest freezer and would freeze gallon jugs of water in the freezer and then swap them out each day... usually having 4-6 in the fridge at a time. It kept it cool enough to keep milk, cheese and assorted stuff cool. We did have a thermometer in it to monitor temps--and would add more ice jugs as needed. At first it was just a 'temporary fix' but it worked so well that my parents were able to save up for the fridge they wanted. If you have a freezer that should help get you through til you can get a fridge again.

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  #12  
Old 05/13/08, 02:02 PM
 
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Lots of interesting points brought up. I'm also curious to know how to go about not having a refrigerator. I don't mind living with one, but it is good to know, and plus prices are so high for energy right now.

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  #13  
Old 05/13/08, 02:13 PM
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Location: Mississippi
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Thanks everyone -- great ideas for the imagination-challenged here (which I feel I am at this point in time!)

I might be able to make some room in the chest freezer -- it's fairly stocked right now, but I'm sure I can maneuver some space to freeze some jugs of water.

I agree with the egg thought -- back north, we rarely kept eggs in the fridge, but I've been a bit leery down here in the South (north Mississippi) as it get so hot and humid.

I hadn't thought about packets for things like mayo and such. That's a better idea than putting it on the sandwiches for the lunch boxes (hubby is in construction...lunch could sit out in his truck...hot hot hot), let alone for practical daily use without a fridge.

Much to think about -- thank you all so much! I really don't want to get a new one. The prices are pretty high, and I'd like to stimulate the economy differently with our rebate...namely something like a sawmill or working on the truly practical parts of homesteading, like fencing needs for more usable animals!

Deanna

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  #14  
Old 05/13/08, 02:19 PM
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The thirtyfivebyninetyblogspot.com, whose writer posts here (Palenaka), she has a freezer and a super insulated old icebox. She puts frozen gallon water containers in the not-hooked-up fridge to keep it going! And not pay the utility company! She has an amazing blog! ldc

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  #15  
Old 05/13/08, 02:37 PM
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Thanks -- I'll definitely look the blog up...

OT -- does anyone know how to cure my 'registered with bounced email' status? I've changed my email to the correct, current one and it's still saying bounced. I've replied to the email sent me...
Deanna

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  #16  
Old 05/13/08, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ldc View Post
The thirtyfivebyninetyblogspot.com, whose writer posts here (Palenaka), she has a freezer and a super insulated old icebox. She puts frozen gallon water containers in the not-hooked-up fridge to keep it going! And not pay the utility company! She has an amazing blog! ldc
So how does she freeze the ice in the freezer without paying the utility company? Either she spends the money on powering the frig or extra for the freezer to make the ice. (unless it's someone else's freezer)
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  #17  
Old 05/13/08, 03:02 PM
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I would love to find one of these

http://thirtyfivebyninety.blogspot.c...bsorption.html

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  #18  
Old 05/13/08, 03:13 PM
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Wow - Some good info from you guys!

Its good to know this stuff, so that if you ever have a 'fridge conk out, you have some options.

For someone looking for a "newer" but not out of the crate new appliance, try going to your local utility (I assume they are all like ours, selling appliances and electronics at the local office) and ask if they have any Repos, or scratch and dent, or floor models they will sell at a good discount.

Might work at a store or Home Depot/Lowes, too.

Just need to have your own truck to bring it home. They all charge outrageous to deliver.

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  #19  
Old 05/13/08, 04:03 PM
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How do you do without a fridge?

My grandparents had a spring house. The spring came out of the ground and they built a stone house around it. They channeled the spring water into one end of a metal trough, and then the water spilled out the other and ran on down the creek.

They kept milk and watermelons in the metal trough, and other things on a shelf (I don't remember what, I was young).

Before electricity, folks had "ice boxes" which were kind of like a modern refrigerator but instead of the small freezer on top, there was just a box where you put a block of ice. The box where the ice went wasn't insulated from the rest of the ice box, so the cold air flowed down into the ice box and kept things cool.

They got their blocks of ice in the winter time, from ponds and lakes. They'd cut blocks out of the frozen ponds with saws, and use ice tongs to pick them up. They'd pack them in sawdust in the ice house. When the block of ice in the ice box ran low, they'd get another block of ice from the ice house. Hopefully the ice house would keep ice until the weather turned cool again.

I don't know that I'd mess with all that unless you've made independence from a fridge one of your goals.

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  #20  
Old 05/13/08, 04:25 PM
 
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Here is a link to a yahoo group called RefrigeratorAlternatives.
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/R...rAlternatives/
You might be able to find some good ideas there. Good luck.

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  #21  
Old 05/13/08, 07:06 PM
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Hey.

Go to thriftsales and auctions...a working fridge can be had for $25-$50. You have to learn to scrounge when you have so many mouths to feed...it's a basic survival skill.

RF

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  #22  
Old 05/13/08, 08:17 PM
 
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Back in the 80s, when we first moved here, it wasn't uncommon for us to lose electric service for sometimes days on end, especially if a storm had come through. We just had to prepare for the likely event. We've always had 2 fridges, one in house and one in the shop along with a full freezer. Part of our freezer space remains dedicated to plastic jugs of frozen water. We also have a bunch of cheap styrofoam coolers. These are for when the electric is out and we have to ice down the frozen food. If it's summer, and you have an outdoor grill, then get ready to have a big barbeque if you go a few days without electric. We also keep a huge supply of emergency candles and lanterns. Also, keep a supply of drinking water in the pantry - I use those big glass tea jars and change out the water ever so often.

A year ago on Memorial Day, we had an electric surge frying event that took out our kitchen fridge, phone and answering machine, and computer. We bought our fridge new from a local business and got the cheapest one we could find. It was $398 total and delivered and set up free. It's not everything I like to have in a fridge, but does what it needs to do.

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  #23  
Old 05/13/08, 08:48 PM
 
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Another idea if you do decide to buy new is to look for "scratch and dent" items. Sometimes the damage is really minute, but they knock off quite a bit on price.

Also, get a manager and tell him what a large family you have and what you have to spend and ask him what he can do for you. You can almost always get it for less than the posted price. I had a manager knock off over $200 on a $600 refrigerator one time because I just told him honestly that I was in financial straits at the time and only had $400 to spend, including tax and delivery.

You can also get good deals on display models that might be missing a small piece. I just bought a garden cart at Big Lots that sells for $80. It was the last one and was missing two cotter pins. I just asked the manager if he'd "knock something off the price"...and he gave it to me for $40. Went to Lowe's and bought cotter pins for $2.19! And the good part was that it was already assembled, so I didn't have to do it, lol.

I hardly ever pay "sticker price" for anything. It never hurts to ask for a better deal, I've hardly ever been told a flat no and a lot of times got a great deal just for asking!

P.S. You said you have a freezer...you know you can freeze milk right?? I hear people saying you have to open it and pour some out to keep it from bursting, but I never do, just bring it home from the store and pop it right in there. It takes most of a day to thaw it out, so I usually get it out the day before I know I'm going to need it. Just let it thaw, give it a good shake (sometimes it settles during freezing), and you're good to go!

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  #24  
Old 05/13/08, 09:33 PM
 
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We had a well out in front of the house. Grandma bought this appratus that had shelves in it and you dropped it into the well. It had to be a dug well around at least 4ft wide. It was on a windless with a rope attached from it to the windless. It had shelves in it, and when she wanted something, she would wind it up, take off or put on a shelf what she wanted and lower it down to near the water. This worked alright as far as coolness was concerned, but I heard that too many times it would hit on a outcropping of rock in the wall and tip and spill milk or whatever down into the well. They finally filled in the well when I was VERY little, or before. You could get a 55 gal barrel, and cut it open say a third of the way on its side, Cut round (shelves outa metal and weld them in place. Cut a hole offset a bit towards the rear, since the back would still be there, and that part would weigh more, rig up a windless, high enough so as to be able to raise it nearly out of the well, and your in business. Id put everything I could in ziplock, or sealed plastic bowls ect to keep the spill rate down

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  #25  
Old 05/13/08, 09:34 PM
 
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might check out this blog entry by a guy who's been living without a fridge for 30 yrs:
http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogs...r-30-years.htm

as someone above stated, many things get put in the fridge that don't actually need it.

also, you might find this blog entry interesting:
http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/20...servation.html

finally, there's another thread in alternative energy about fridges, with various info about doing without a fridge, to having a more efficient one, etc:
http://homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=228293

--sgl

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  #26  
Old 05/13/08, 09:47 PM
 
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my grandparents lived without a fridge until the very late 50s. they had an ice box. a block of ice was delivered right to their home. the had a smoke house to preserve ham/pork. they raised their own eggs, meat, milk and milk products. had a deep freeze from the 60s on.

I just can't imagine living without a fridge (though I have TRIED imagining totally roughing it in the past). you could can/preserve everything including milk and meat but then you gotta be able to eat it all that day when you open a can or feed it to the animals.

family of 10, there probably aren't that many left overs though?

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  #27  
Old 05/13/08, 10:18 PM
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we know a couple who have lived in a canvas tipee for years in Northern Minnesota - temps to -40º.... with a woodstove, hauled water and had an open air outhouse -just a wooden box over a hole in the ground with a toilet seat they carried with them from the tipee. Their only refrigeration (besides the outdoors) was an ice chest/cooler.

They recently moved into a traditional home and the thing they can't get over is the refrigerator. Seems thats the one luxury they didn't even realize how much they missed until they had it again. Before we built our cabin home, we lived out of an icechest/cooler. I'd hate to do it long term - but like Windy in Kansas said, most of whats in there probably doesn't need to be but its mighty convenient.

Up here, we cool things down out on the porch or bury it in a snowbank.

In April.

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  #28  
Old 05/13/08, 10:24 PM
 
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If you have your own land a root celler might just work. I was in a well built one when it was nice and warm outside. It was at refridgerator temperature.

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  #29  
Old 05/13/08, 10:29 PM
 
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the way i see it you either do without one or go buy a new one not to hard to decide what to do. take a vote with the family and see what they think maybe cut back on something until a new fridge is paid for. you said you used 9 gallons of milk a week cut that back to just what you need for cooking, drink water and take that extra money and put towards the fridge.

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  #30  
Old 05/13/08, 11:07 PM
 
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My folks never, ever had a fridge. We had a pantry on the north side of the house. It was tiled and the food to be kept cold was on a shelf made from a big slab of marble. Since non of us ever got sick, I guess it was o.k. You couldn't keep things for the long haul but it kept the milk fine for a couple of days. We never had anything frozen, my parents never ate anything but fresh stuff. They would put meat in a bowl with apple cider vinegar. They did shop often though and we ate fruits and veg in season. I wouldn't want to do it myself and we lived in a colder climate. But, as someone said, we do keep a lot of stuff in our fridge that really doesn't need to be there.

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