Easy Refrigeration?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by madmarchie, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. madmarchie

    madmarchie Active Member

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    So I've got this 100+yr old itty bitty house I am working on. Coming along real good. Have made an amazing mound of junk from in and around the place. Destroyed 4 hornets nests. Primed the walls. Am putting glass in windows. Patched a BIG hole in wall. Now...

    WATER - I will buy many 5 gallon water jugs and fill up at the main barn (this is on a horse ranch where I work) and use an orange 10 gal construction water jug to dispense for cooking, sponge bathing, dishes etc. If I am so inclined the stream is near by and I can bathe in the evening with bio degradable soap. There are two hand dug wells. Rainwater collection would be awesome. Don't know if I'm ready to get into all that yet...

    COOKING - Cast iron propane burners for now and solar. Would like to modify natural gas stove in future. I've heard rumors about cooking bread in a dutch oven, pie shells in skillets. Can this be done?

    BATHROOM - Composting "humanure" system

    But here's my big dillema REFRIDGERATION. Even if I dig a root cellar or have the time and energy to fix and isulate one of the outbuildings for food storage of canned goods and durable fruit/veggies what do I do about the the very perishable items such as meat/milk and opened juices? I have thought about kerosene/propane refrig, adsorption cooling, spring houses and iceboxes. It seems the icebox is my only option right now. But how well will it work? I don't have the knowledge, tools or $ materials to make the other options happen. It is hard to cook for one person and not have leftovers and I don't think I can live without milk. I really like it and have a source for raw milk. Also what about my butter and eggs.

    What do you guys think of my plan and any suggestions on a low tech way to keep food cool?

    Megan
     
  2. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am told by those who have farm fresh eggs they don't really need refrigeration. Of course, they don't sit around for months on end like the washed and refrigerated commercial eggs. I made inquirries when i was doing my hurricane planning, and found that eggs could be preserved with water glass or alternatively sompletely coated (to exclude air) with petroleum jelly or lard.

    I have not tested either of these methods.
     

  3. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Do you have a friend with a freezer that you can rotate frozen jugs of water thru? Really helps. Ice tends to make a mess and the milk jugs will turn over and the meat will get into the water. Yech! We used an ice chest exclusively for 3 years. After that we used propane. Save up for a propane fridge, they are great! I would get one of those new 5 day coolers. They cost a bit more up front but really hold their coolth longer. Keep eggs in a cool place, they don't need a refrigerator. Butter is ok if it doesn't get so hot it melts. Put it in a wide mouth pint jar and put the lid on it for storage in the cooler or on the counter. Things like jelly, pb, catsup, pickles, really don't need refrig. Just don't let them stay hot.

    The sooner you can do it, put up at least one section of gutter and run it to a rain barrel. Next good rain go out and walk around the house and see where the most rain is running off. Put your gutter there. You would be really surprised how much will collect. If you can, make a cone out of alum flashing and stuff it loosely with poly batting and let the rain water run thru it into the barrel. I have used an old bath tub to catch water off a roof. It was really handy for baths, animal water and washing dishes etc in.
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I grew up without any refrigeration whatsoever. We milked our cows and cooled the milk in water from the well. We got fresh milk to drink each morning and evening. eggs keep ok. The thing that was a problem was fresh meat. The only pork we had in the summer was home cured. The beef was canned. We ate lots of young chickens during the summer. For special occasions we could buy fresh meat at the market in town. To keep things like butter from melting, we put them in a little lard pail which had a tight lid, and let them down in the well pit with a piece of clothesline rope. Most of your left overs could be keep cooler that way, but not cold like the refrigerator.
     
  5. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Forgot to mention. I use a pressure cooker a lot for stews and chili, etc. Leftovers can be reheated until a good head of steam builds up, then turned off and left on the stove or counter with the lid unopened it will keep for many days even in hot weather. But you MUST put the lid on and bring the steam back up or it will not be safe. DON"T let it set any time with the lid off, put it right back after you serve your plate.
     
  6. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    You mentioned two hand dug wells and a stream nearby. Take a
    thermometer and see what the average temperature of the water
    is in each, and use those for refrigeration...Ann
     
  7. madmarchie

    madmarchie Active Member

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    CB, I just looked in too the Coleman coolers that last for 5 days. I think I will definitely go in for one of those. The fridge part of the refrigerator in the barn is used alot but not the freezer so I think I could freeze blocks of ice in some plastic containers and then stack them in the coolers. There are some old fashioned utilitarian shops on one of our main drags here in austin. One place sells block ice and they informed me it keeps better than the stuff in a bag. I will also definitely try your suggestion about leftovers in a pressure cooker. I think I heard one vegertarian woman say she did that will her brown rice all the time.

    Will, I'd love to use the wells. I went searching the 30 acres for the second one today and could not find it for the life of me although I have indeed seen it and it's the better of the 2--hmph :( I was watching out for those mountain lions and snakes too :) The other well which is just 10 ft from the house has a pipe sticking out which I can pull up about three feet then it gets stuck. There are lots of branches and debris in the well and although no icky smell more than likely some dead animals. It'd be convenient to put a hand pump on the well. But first how do I get the branches out and the looong pipe? Then I must chlorinate it and get out major mud. Then I must pump out the chlorinated water and let it refill. I'm all about hard work and even a degree of danger but I just don't know where to start on this well and God forbid I should fall in.
     
  8. peanutgreen

    peanutgreen Well-Known Member

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    Bathing: You should get yourself a camp shower (big plastic bag, black on one side). They are great. We use one when we go camping, and they really do heat the water up nice. We use the warm water to wash our camp dishes, hands, and ourselves. It sure would be more convenient than a sponge bath, and leave you feeling more refreshed.

    Cooking: Yes, you can bake bread in a dutch oven or a solar oven. Do a websearch and I'm sure you'll find plenty of recipes and instructions. I'm not sure about the pie shells, but you could probably make some cobbler in the dutch oven.

    Food Preservation: I see that someone has mentioned using a pressure cooker, and you have mentioned that a lot of what you eat will be stews or chili. Why not just pressure can your stew and chili? You could make a big pot of various types of foods like that and pressure can the unused portions into pint, half-pint, or quart canning jars. It really wouldn't cost all that much for the jars, and the on-going expense of it would be the flat lids (about $1.00 for 12). They would be easier to store than leftovers in a cooler, and you wouldn't have to eat it for every meal until it's gone. It seems like someone had a thread going in the cooking section about canning butter, too. You might want to search for it. You also mentioned that you have access to a freezer. You could freeze your leftovers into individual meals, too. I do this for DH sometimes. If he doesn't want to eat the same meal for lunch at work the next day, I freeze it. It's like having a TV dinner ready to go. I did that for myself when I was single, too. It's such a pain to cook a whole meal for one person to eat. Fresh eggs really do keep for a long time without a fridge. You may even want to think about just getting yourself a couple of hens so you'd have a couple fresh ones everyday. Then you don't have to worry about storing any for very long. Chickens are really easy to take care of. If your stream is very cool, you could submerge some items in it. Just make sure you put them in something that's watertight and anchored down.

    We are in the middle of fixing up an itty-bitty old house, too. It was built in 1880, and it looks like it's been almost that long since someone lived in it. lol Have fun!
     
  9. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago, we rebuilt an old cattle trailer & made it into a camper/ horse trailer. While trying to decide what to do about refrigeration, we happened across a small propane/ electric refrigerator that someone had taken out of a camper because the electric part didn't work anymore. We bought it for $10, brought it home, hooked it up to propane, & it worked great. We used it for several years, & the people that bought it from us still use it. A bottle of propane will last a long
    time.
     
  10. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    a solor battery tender bought from a marine store cheap a car battery and a 12 volt cooler i beleive colmon makes one will work great
     
  11. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    the cooler is called colmon thermolectric just went to look at mine
     
  12. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

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    We took cup showers for a long time. Heat up a stock pot of water to boiling, pour it into a 5 gallon bucket that's half full of unheated water until the temperature seems about right, grab a coffee cup and ladle it over your body. Lather up with soap and shampoo, grab the cup for the rinse cycle and you are good to go. Sure beats trying to wipe yourself down with a damp cloth and you don't need any special equipment.
     
  13. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Megan, you could make a camp shower out of a tarp secured to a circle of hose reinforced with some wire at the top, hanging from a tree if you have a branch tall enough. You just separate the tarp and walk into the shower. If you can get one of the tarps that have black on the outside, it will be a bit warmer in the sun during winter. The water supply is either a large plastic water jug painted black and filled with water so it heats in the sun. Hang it by a rope so you can raise and lower it for filling. A small hole in the bottom plugged with a golf tee and you're in business. Some of the stores here sell water in jugs about 2 gallons or so in size, with a pull out spout that would work. You could make a soap holder for inside, or use a soap on a rope deal. The girl scouts did something along these lines. Also, for washing hands outside, just use another jug, painted black or dark to heat the water better, soap in a net bag from onions or potatoes hanging from the handle, and a hole plugged with a golf tee in the bottom. Pull the plug, wet hands, replug, lather up, unplug and rinse. I know it sounds like a lot, but you do what you have too! Good luck on your adventure! Jan in Co
     
  14. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Shower: Warm water in any ol' pot and them pour it into a garden sprayer. Pressurize the sprayer by pumping the handle and you got youreself a warm, pressure shower.

    Refrigeration: In the winter, go out to the nearest lake and cut blocks of ice and bring 'em home. Insulate the ice blocks with lots of sawdust. They oughta last all summer long.
     
  15. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    anniew mentioned using your well.

    A man in Africa won a Nobel prize for inventing a refrigeration unit that can be used in a very warm climate with no energy source. Basicly, you have a large ceramic jar with a smaller one inside of it. The items to be refrigerated are placed into the small jar, and cold water is poured around it and a lid put on. The warmth inside the small jar is pulled out by the surrounding water. He developed it because girls were not going to school as they were needed to stand in lines all day purchasing the family's food. With the jar unit, girls can buy enough meat or other perishables to last a few days and spend those days getting an education.

    You would receive the same benefits by using the well and having your perishables in ceramic containers or zip lock bags.

    When the colonists baked bread using an open fire, they set the dutch oven on warm coals, and placed more coals on the lid. It can be done, and I imagine the place to get the best info would be an historical society.
     
  16. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    "You could make a soap holder for inside, or use a soap on a rope deal."

    Cut panty hose off below the knee and stick the bar of soap in the foot part, then tie a knot at about ankle level. This lathers up easily and drips dry in no time so no soggy soap. Tie it where it will be easy to lather your hands or wash cloth, but stays out of the water spray.

    When we were building we used a new black garbage can with wheels as our tub. We would put water in it every morning, put the lid on and it was hot from the sun at the end of the day. I put a kid in it and poured water over her from a garden watering can. She would turn around and around to "shower". It was easy to drag outside to dump on the garden afterwards (I tried to remember to take the kid out first!). When I used it, I would sit on a chair and tilt it so my legs would fit in and scrubbed down to my toes, then rinsed and got out and stood it up and washed my upper half and hair while hanging over it.

    If the outside weather is warm enough, the Solar Shower is the best way to go.
    If there is no convenient tree, take some 2 x 4s and insert a long nail in one end with the point sticking out and tack the boards to a tarp at intervals, leaving a couple of feet of the tarp untacked at one end as a flap. Then you can make a circle and stick it in the ground with the nails and use the flap as an entrance door (it can be fastened on the last board in the circle). This can all be rolled up and stored in bad weather or if needed in another location.

    If you get chickens , make a chicken tractor to foil predators. You can move it as needed to fertilize your future garden areas. My chickens would stay in it 24/7 if I'd let them.
     
  17. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    I like the idea frig AND stove out of a little old camper-caravan . The frig is usually dual-power, electric and gas, possible also 12V. Stove is gas. Contact caravan dealers - they often take useless vans as trade-ins, but all they can do is dump them or wreck them. If not, they'll still know where dealers for second-hand van stuff are. The frig probably wont have pretty outside walls, but just build it under a bench like it was in the van. As a bonus, you can get the sink out of a van as well (and use it as a hand-basin as well) - a small low-water-usage one with a hand pump that can suck water out of say a 55-gallon drum.

    Heck, you may even be able to get a complete old caravan just for the effort of moving it. There are a lot of them sitting around, used as a van at first, then as an occasional extra room when they were no longer roadworthy, now falling apart from disuse, but the appliances still work. Wreck it for what you can use internally, then either use it as empty storage or a chicken shed, or break it down and salvage what you can of the frame and cladding. The chassis makes a great base to build a box trailer on.

    Use that gas stove as necessary in summer, when you don't want unnecessary heat in the house. In winter, use a wood heater that you can cook on - even an inefficient old cast-iron stove. You want it for the heat then anyway, and inefficiency as a stove actually makes it efficient as a heater. You can buy "stovetop" ovens - little metal boxes - if you want to do oven-cooking and you don't have another oven. Easy enough to make, in fact - you just need some provision to get rid of excess heat - vents, or square rods for it to sit on, so it can have air space between it and a stovetop.

    A van frig is small, but it's all a single person needs for day-to-day living, and it even has a little freezer compartment. This is particularly so if you pressure-can chicken and other meats. A pint jar of meat would give you enough meat, with added vegetables, for two or three main meals. Just store the second half in the frig for a day. That way you won't get too bored - chicken and beef and turkey and pork and whatever other meats you can buy cheap or get otherwise in bulk. Even fish. Don't forget to eat what you're canning as you go, and ring the changes with eggs as well.

    If you're using a gas-powered ex-van frig, you've GOT TO check there's still gas, night and morning; and you've got to have a spare gas cylinder to swap to, then move the empty to your vehicle so you won't forget to refill as soon as possible.

    Or of course these days you can just buy a camper-frig - about the size and shape of a picnic icechest - that runs off 12V. That and a battery and a small photocell array would work. You can recharge a spare 12V battery off the electric in the barn if necessary.

    If you're using chicken tractors they can provide your vegetable gardens. When you need a vegetable plot (say once a month) leave the tractor longer, so the ground gets thoroughly scratched over and manured, then move on again. Leave the space sit a fortnight or a month so the manure can mellow, then plant. If you can keep picking fresh for a month from something run on the square-foot-garden principle, you don't need to refrigerate that.

    For washing, I like Cabin Fever's shower from a garden sprayer. However, if you're going to do sponge baths, do your hair and face in a little water in a basin first, rinse, then use the soapy leftovers to shave with, then use it to THOROUGHLY wash your feet. Now wash the rest using two small lightweight hand towels or even teatowels as washers. They are still big enough to reach across your back with a hand each side, so you can do a thorough job of washing everything everywhere. Use one to soap with, another to rinse with, then wash out the soapy one and rinse it in whatever is left of the water you were using to bathe with, then leave them both to dry until next time. You can do all this and get thoroughly clean and rinsed with well under half a bucket of water - as little as a quarter will do.
     
  18. DW

    DW plains of Colorado Supporter

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    Yes, pies can be made in a dutch oven. I made it in a pie tin & set the whole thing in the dutch oven.
     
  19. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    That is how we washed ourselves for years also. I like this thread lots of good suggestions and ideas on it.
     
  20. susieM

    susieM Well-Known Member

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    A hula hoop makes a good shower curtain support. A stream keeps things cool.