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Old 21-12-2006, 12:29   #46
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Wine in tetrapaks?

Okay, this I gotta try... I love tetrapaks onboard primarily because they stow rather neatly, and collapse compactly after use so their packaging doesn't take up a huge amount of storage. It also doesn't rust, I haven't had any leaks yet, blah blah blah...

Those wine-in-a-box things are actually wine-in-a-bag-with-a-spigot. And some of them you can refill. I haven't done it personally, but a boat in the old club used to refill them with water, freeze them in the home freezer, then use them for ice aboard, drinking the water after its melted. Which might make sense for me now that we get our milk in glass bottles...


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Old 21-12-2006, 13:26   #47
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Yeah, the wine slushies came from the old style with a spigot and not very good wine.

The Tetrapaks, OTOH, are decent plonk, with a top that unscrews -- just like a bottle but without the breakage hazard. And stowage, of course, is dead simple.


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Old 08-02-2007, 01:43   #48
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follow-up from original poster

Wow, what a great bunch of responses. For those of you who are interested, I thought you might find my follow-up post useful now that our Oregon to Valdez, Alaska, trip is behind us and we have real knowledge to share.

First to clarify some things: We have no refrigeration and no ice box on our 36' steel sailboat. We do own a regular cooler but don't really use it because we rarely found ourselves anywhere with ice. We anchor 90% of the time. We also have an air-cooled diesel engine that heats up the cabin quite a bit (so much so that we tried baking potatoes on it, but failed). The coolest place on the boat is the bilge. Being in the high lats does make things easier. We're currently wintering in Valdez and plan to head toward Kodiak in the spring. All that said, here's some comments on YOUR comments and some more of what we learned.
  1. Our 4-qt pressure cooker is wonderful. Anything bigger for two people seems silly. We easily fed 4 people with the smaller cooker. We also carry a larger pressure cooker/canner with a capacity of 4-5 quart jars so when we have kitchen access at times we may can foods for later. We did this before we left Oregon and enjoyed our beef stew and spaghetti with meatballs on many a cold, wet evening far from anyplace to buy fresh meats. We're planning to do that again before leaving again this summer, but we want to add a variety of salsas to the mix this time.
  2. Powdered milk did the trick. It took an adjustment to the taste buds, but in cereal, Ovaltine or recipes it was just fine.
  3. Try as we might, we just missed cream in our coffee way too much. We subbed with Coffeemate, but that stuff is just toxic. We discovered Land o' Lakes UHT creamers and ahhhhhhh.....
  4. Never found powdered eggs for anything resembling a realistic price, but never once had a problem with eggs. We started with a large quantity from a farmer but then never had that option again. Store-bought eggs lasted two weeks without an issue, ever. Never tried oiling them, never waxed them, though we did flip them every couple of days just in case in made a difference, not that we'd know.
  5. Our $10 French butter keeper works great at keeping our butter fresh. We do, however, wish it could hold a pound at a time.
  6. We keep extra sticks of butter in plastic containers in the bilge until we need them. They live alongside our cheese and our home-canned items (which are slipped into thick socks).
  7. A vacuum packer travels with us and is an ESSENTIAL. Of course it's a drain on power, but you can plan wisely in its use. We discovered McLean's specialty market in Nanaimo and the wonderful women there were happy to vacuum pack our large cheese purchase in small servings. Stored in the bilge, it all kept well. We had some left 4 months later and no problems. Use the vacuum packer for all sorts of things before leaving shore power: marinated olives, M&Ms in small servings, and other snacky things like trail mix or your homemade granola.
  8. We're not big drinkers but when we have a hankering, we put it overboard to chill...again an advantage of the high lats.
  9. Voyaging on a Small Income by Ann Hill is another great book with lots of information about handling life without refrigeration, though UK based and somewhat outdated.
  10. To rebel heart who mentioned a hot shower being a priority: We take hot showers using our stove and a 2-gallon garden pesticide pump. Works great and is just enough water for one shower in the cockpit! now back to the main topic....
  11. Tried the Evertfresh bags with okay results. Not entirely convinced, so it's good to hear someone is doing tests with them. Post more of your results, please!
  12. As for protein, we ate our home-canned meals (beef stew over mashed potatoes and meatballs and sauce over angel hair pasta), hard (dry Italian) salami and canned hams. We also were pleasantly surprised at how good the canned beef at Costco tasted. We had their chicken, too. And of course tuna. And there's always bean dishes in the pressure cooker and that old standby, fishing.
  13. We loved the precooked bacon we found at Costco, and then a new friend told us that prior to cruising she partially cooks regular bacon, layers it between wax-paper sheets and stores it in a plastic container with the same results as the more expensive option.
That's about it. Fruits and veggies never kept a very long time, though apples, tomatoes and carrots fared far better than bell peppers, zukes and lettuces. I felt it was pretty much hit or miss depending on the source of the produce. Farmer's markets are your best bet for longer-lasting freshness to be sure. We'll not do so well as we head south and can no longer enjoy a cool bilge, so I guess we'll eat less butter and harder cheeses!

I'm absolutely intrigued with senormechanico's suggestion about the hamburger. I'll try it! Please, everyone share more of your ideas, especially like this one, or your favorite main-dish canning ideas.
s/v Bluewater
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:59   #49
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Basicly, you have to go Veg's and need to restock every 2 weeks or get dried or .........

Buy your meat the same day that you eat it and you will be fine.

If you can adapt to this then you will live healthier and cheeper. The big point is "IF"
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:55   #50

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So did you all can any of your own meat aside from canning it in recipes? As in... did you raw pack chicken or beef for use in any recipes made at the time of consuming the meal?

Also, did you can many vegetables? If gotten very VERY fresh and canned immediately, they keep their nutritional value better than the frozen stuff in supermarkets.

Sounds like it all worked out well.

Do you have a link for us to the vacuum packer? I'm curious about it... but would imagine one would have to remember it wasn't the ultimate solution, since it obviously woudn't do a thing for botulism.
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:22   #51
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Blue Water,

Cheers for that good to have some thoughts from actual experiance. Especially on the Cheese front. I lurrrrrrve Cheese.

Give me something to chew over (I also love puns )
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Old 08-02-2007, 10:29   #52

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Was the powdered milk you tried powdered whole milk? Or the powdered skim that has infested the US? Powdered whole milk is being smuggled into the US market again, under several Nestle brand names that are sold in the central/south American markets. If you can find a supermart with a sudamericano section, odds are you'll find Klim or Nido there, they're the same product and the taste is outstanding.

There's no magic to precooked bacon, basically it is well-done beef [sic]jerky, i.e. no fat means it won't go rancid. When you consider that a pound of bacon cooks down to just a few ounces--the precooked stuff is often no more expensive than regular bacon in the supermarkets. That it has been autoclaved in a sealed pouch instead of just cooked, means it will keep even better than home-made jerky.<G>

If you stow canned tuna, check out the "pouched" tuna and salmon as well. They also *appear* to be more expensive, half the weight for a slightly higher price than a can. But if you open a can of tuna (creeping closer to 6.0 ounces every day now) and let it drain thoroughly, you'll find it only contains about 3-1/2 oz. of tuna, oddly close to the same thing that the pouch has! Makes the pouches worth looking at more closely, same with the salmon.
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Old 08-02-2007, 11:35   #53
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more responses...

Here's an attempt at answering all your questions...

The few times we found ourselves in a town, we occasionally would buy fresh meat to cook or grill along with fresh veggies. But we'd also cave at the chance to have Thai food or a great hamburger! Going out is always a treat but even more so if it happens just once a month or so and when it's food you can't make aboard.

Yes we did can some of our own meat, but not as you suggested by raw packing chicken or beef. We canned the French Laundry's marinara sauce recipe along with about 6 meatballs in quart jars. We also canned beef stew. Both turned out fabulous and the quantity is perfect for two. It was our first time canning, and we were very cautious and followed all the directions. But it made us nervous! We'll do both again for sure. We want to try raw-packing chicken, beef and pork, but of course you understand it is all cooked at the end of the canning process. Still, it will really open up our cooking options, and we enjoy good food! Other things we want to try: pork green chili, various salsas, more vegetable-based dishes, maybe some Indian food? Any ideas out there?

No we didn't can any vegetables at all unless you count the carrots, celery and onions in the beef stew. I believe you about the fresher the better. Store-bought canned veggies are so abundant and varied anymore that I don't see the point unless I owned a farm or had unlimited free access to good, fresh veggies. But if you have any ideas I'm not considering, let me know. We did have some extra stew veggies that we canned without the beef, probably 2-3 quarts, and that added a bit of variety. Also, this may sound strange, but I can see canning potatoes, too. Then it would be simple to drain them, drizzle them with olive oil and rosemary and roast in the oven until heated through. Or slice them to have with breakfast. Or whatever. Haven't explored enough of my potato options in the pressure cooker yet!

I don't think I said enough about the vacuum packer. We bought ours at Costco bundled with extra bags. It's called a Food Saver. They are expensive, but watch for sales. And if you really find uses for it, you will love it forever. You can reuse the bags, too. Comes with attachments to seal mason jars as well. My father's wife uses hers every day at home to repack the strong breakfast cheeses because they keep longer that way. Also with regard to cheese, you probably know the harder, longer-aged cheeses keep the longest. And the wax-wrapped hunks of cheddar do very well. We used our vacuum packer during our major provisioning to repack large bags from Costco of flour, sugars, yeast, milk, espresso beans, pancake mix, Bisquick, bacon bits, snack foods, dog treats. For the baking ingredients, we have our "daily use" plastic containers that we refill from the vacuum packed bags (e.g., if we use a 1-quart container for sugar, then we vacuum-packaged that same quantity of sugar for the refills; similarly we packaged the yeast in a much smaller quantity for freshness and my husband baked fabulous bread all along the way; he even perfected his pizza crust). We learned that vacuum-packing crackers and pointy things just ends up puncturing the bag and losing the seal. BTW, you can't beat those large freezer ziplocs for repackaging your cookies, graham crackers, pasta and candy bars after you throw away the boxes they come in.

As for wet items like marinated olives... the vacuum packer works, and has a different setting for this type of thing. But I don't really recommend it. They didn't all seal right and some leaked. My idea was to repackage giant jars of olives into appetizer serving sizes. But if I do it again, I'll try it in 1/2-pint mason jars with the vacuum sealer attachment.

A special note about dog food:We thought about vacuum packing the dog's (dry) food, but that just takes up way too many bags. Instead we put the dog food in the heaviest freezer ziplocs, stored it against the hull and emptied it into the 6-qt "daily use" plastic container we used when it got low. This worked well until the end when we discovered friction had compromised a couple of the ziploc bags and part of the dog food had grown moldy. We buy her good food that comes vacuum packed in the first place, but in a giant bag and that doesn't help us. We need to eliminate the friction under the ziplocs or just store them somewhere else. We used that puffy shelf-liner stuff against the hull, but it wasn't enough.

About the milk, we used the powdered nonfat kind from Costco. We are not big on drinking straight milk, so in cereal, oatmeal and recipes it works great. Cold milk always tastes better, and having a water tank in the keel in a cold ocean helps. I did buy whole powdered milk at an Indian grocery, but we didn't really like the flavor all that much. Still, I plan to use it in recipes and such. That reminds me, I also found powdered coconut milk, which is GREAT for ethnic recipes, or if you just like a coconut-based cocktail every now and then.

The thing I don't understand about the precooked bacon is that of course it DOES still have fat on it. It's slightly undercooked and gets crisped up in the pan before you eat it. The fat is the part about it that keeps me wondering. But that they autoclave it...I see...would that be akin to canning but in a plastic bag? BTW, that Hormel pre-cooked bacon is cheaper in a larger package at Costco (also keep in mind that Canada does not sell it, and neither do they sell the dry Italian salami, but they do sell both at the US stores). I'm going to try the do-it-yourself bacon for this summer and see how it goes.

I second the comment on the pouched tuna! It's great unless you really need the juice from the can for a recipe. The waste also packs smaller than a can.

I think that's it!
s/v Bluewater
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Old 08-02-2007, 12:34   #54

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Regarding the bacon... there are only a few ways to safely preserve meat:

1) Dry it (like true jerky)

2) Pressure can it according to USDA published standards

3) Salt it (like the days of yore... not so good if you are sensitive to sodium like I am)

4) Load it up with chemicals (sodium nitrate, etc....)

5) Smoke it

Of those ways, your bacon is probably relying most on #3, #4 and #5. Your process wouldn't be as likely to work on high-end bacon without preservatives. Either way, I'd be a little leery of that method with the bacon. It isn't 100% in your control. You are relying on the bacon manufacturer (since you mention buying at Costco, I'm going to use that word... ha ha ha) for salinity and preservative levels. Too risky for me.

Sounds like you had a wonderful selection of food. Isn't opening up a canned meal while far away the best feeling once you get over the initial terror? We were very nervous our first time as well. Somewhere along the way, it was planted in people's minds that home canning isn't safe. Only thing is, they forgot to make the distinction between proper pressure canning and the old boiling water bath methods that couldn't kill botulism.

Hope you stay active on the forum. We are HUGE fans of being able to provision for months at a time and not go ashore for anything. We also live on the hook most of the year (all of the year next year), and cook some very outlandish meals on the boat:

actual NY pizzas from the flour on up (wife worked at a pizza shop as a teenager)
bake all our own breads
fajita burritos
soups and stews
various recipes from The Silver Spoon cookbook
thai, chinese, japanese

etc... etc...

all from scratch, using meats such as venison, wild board, pheasant and duck. We eat no store-bought meats such as beef, etc...

We find it's actually easier to provision up the raw ingredients, many of which are dry, and then put together your own fresh stuff while out. Plus... you get to eat very whimsical meals even when there are no restaurants around.

This winter, we have cooked about 60% of our food on our woodstove, and the other 40% in a toaster oven, since we're on shore power over the winter.

Hope to see you on the board some more. Great posts. Would love to exchange ideas and compare results on food preservation and preparation.

BTW: How was the trip??
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Old 08-02-2007, 14:22   #55
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preserving meats

Really interesting! Please share more. First, how on earth do you access venison, wild boar, pheasant and duck? Now that we're in Alaska we can imagine getting in on a moose next season, but we'd have to have access to a regular kitchen to do the canning. I wish we had the know-how to smoke salmon in such a way as to not have to freeze it. I salted some last summer and it now sits in a couple of plastic storage containers. I am a little scared to try it! I researched gravlox, too, but it seems refrigeration is necessary to cure it properly. Do you have any advice?

Hm. I'll have to ask our friend for more specifics about how she does the bacon. The Costco bacon lasted a long time, even after we opened the bag and stored it in a ziploc. Eventually, however, it began to turn green. Ick.

I'm a huge convert to home-canned foods and only wish I'd started teaching myself a long time ago in order to feel more confident and versatile now. You have a great list of foods. We love pizza, too, and vacuum-packed pepperoni keeps forever. The softer cheeses are a little more of a challenge. I was thinking of canning pints of pizza sauce as well. What do you do?

Do you can chili with beans? Or just the sauce?

Fajita burritos...does this mean you raw-pack the meats for it? I've found recipes for doing this. Is it really as simple as it sounds? Have you never had problems with poultry? I just can't get past the idea of shoving raw meat into a jar and pressure canning it. With our beef stew we browned the meat first and almost completely cooked it before canning it. Probably not necessary? And with our meatballs, they were also cooked in the sauce before we pressure canned them. In both cases, are we really safe to just brown the meat and then pressure can? I believe the pressure time was 90 minutes, which certainly should cover all the bases. Please share what you've learned about canning meats! Back to the fajita you can the meats with peppers and onions, too? I'd love your recipe! And do you make your own tortillas?

We traveled with lots of rice noodles, powdered coconut milk and curry pastes but for some reason last summer never really craved much in the way of ethnic foods on the boat. Do you can any ethnic food items? I'm thinking of trying some but it will all be by guessing since you don't often find canning recipes for such things. How do you know how to time those foods that have no specific instructions?

I guess we're still on topic here, but if you want to move off the board you can find my email contact on our crew page. As for the trip, yes it was fantastic. You can see and read all about it on our web site (though some gaps exist for summer that we're both working to fill). Truly awesome scenery. A couple drawbacks that come to mind involve the dog doing her business (see my post in the pet forum) and the fact that fishing licenses are so damn expensive we decided to opt out of fishing until we reached Alaska, where in total we will be for nearly 2 years. We would have spent hundreds had we bought licenses in Oregon, Washington, B.C. and then Alaska (we reached the latter in September and the expensive license expires at the end of the calendar year, so we passed). That part was frustrating and I don't understand by subsistence fishing can't be free. There would be absolutely no reason for us to take more than one fish on any given day. But that's a comparatively little thing. Our trip was everything we hoped for and more. I suppose we're technically still newlyweds, and the trip hasn't made us wish otherwise! In fact, we've discovered how well we really complement one another. We'll keep doing this as long as we can pay the bills, which I imagine will become challenging. One day at a time, eh?
s/v Bluewater
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Old 08-02-2007, 14:27   #56
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I just heard back from my friend about her bacon process. I wasn't nearly thorough enough. Here's what she says:

"How timely, I just got two pounds on sale tuesday and cooked it up. All I do is microwave it in paper towells, and put the strips in a tupperware container and put it in a cool place (like against the hull) Then when I want to use it, I just heat in up in a frying pan or in the microwave. I still have about 6 strips left from the batch that I cooked last April. They are still fine. I often wonder why they don't mold - Mystery. There never has been even a hint of mold & I've been cooking bacon about once a year for 8 years or so!"
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Old 08-02-2007, 14:31   #57
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about hamburger...

Originally Posted by senormechanico
Buy the leanest hamburger you can find...
Steve, would you mind verifying with your wife the exact steps you took to do the beef this way and let me know if the steps in your post are still completely accurate?

Are you saying you did not actually dehydrate the meat? I'm very interested.
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Old 08-02-2007, 15:32   #58

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Bluewater: I'll try to answer your quesitons the best I can...

We access the game meats in a couple of ways. First, we have family in NH that hunt. We got some from them. Second, we order it from suppliers like this one:

It's expensive, but we don't like eating the meat from grocery stores. Third, we recently got ourselves some hunting gear and I'm actively learning about hunting (for food only, of course).

The salmon quesiton is a difficult one. Fish can be tricky to preserve, but in fact follows the same rules as meat in my earlier post. I will look this up and address it in an email later on. I have books that detail the techniques, but I have to find the techniques for fish.

Pizza sauce (which is only uncooked tomato puree put on the pizza raw before it's put in the oven) is most easily canned. You can follow the USDA canning guide for canning tomato sauces, which are very similar to the sauce you already canned. Be *absolutely sure* to follow the USDA canning guide, and not "recipes" off the internet - even if I tell you I have one. It is the only source for absolutely safe food.

For chili, we can up the meat only. We can up ground venison. To make the chili, we use beans that are bought canned already (sorry... cheating a little bit, but they're very good... ha ha). We also cheat in many other ways, since a freezer is part of our setup. We don't prepare every one of those meals out of food we have canned ourselves. Sorry if I gave the wrong impression there.

But yes... we do raw-pack meats. The name is a lot more scary than it sounds, since the temps reach something like 300 degrees in the pressure canner. The meat is hardly "raw" when it comes out. The name "raw pack" really refers to the state of the meat as it's going into the canning process. We raw pack our meats so we can pick and choose meals on a whim while anchored out. Meat lasts much longer canned than it would in a freezer. This is why we do it (when we really stock up on meat to go to anchor).

Yes, we also make our own tortillas. Once you get used to making breads and bread type things, you find everything is simple. We make pasta, tortillas, bread, cakes, pancakes, pizza dough, etc... all from just flour, yeast and whatever other dry ingredients are involved. Once you get used to it, they're almost all the same. We even eat muffins all the time (healthy low sugar ones). Just another variation on breads. The amount of fun food you can make with flours is just about limitless.

To answer your question about canning ethnic foods, we don't. We try to can only items that are basic ingredients for meals we like. We provision for the ability to make foods, not so much for having ready-made meals to eat. It is not safe to get recipies for canning online for anything other than the USDA guide to canning. It addresses many common foods and things you would use as ingredients. Of course, it's tough to make meatballs from canned ground meat, so things like that would be canned up in the sauce, just like you did.

To answer how you know how long to can foods for that don't have a specific recipe... the answer is don't. That's where the botulism creeps in. If you don't follow the USDA canning guide precisely, you leave a margin of error which can miss some of that bacteria. The botulin toxin is bad stuff. If you eat it out in the wilderness, away from medical help (there is an anti-toxin available in hospitals), you might end up paralyzed or dead. Not worth the risk, especially when you put so much hard work into being safe sailing there and stuff, you know?

If there's one thing that truely amazed me pertaining to being 100% self sufficient, it's being healthy and safe. In every bit of literature I've read, doing more than normal to stay safe and healthy is of the utmost importance when far from civilization, since you have no help.

I'll check out more about your trip on your site. The xc-skiing pics are great!! People laugh at us for having them on the boat, but when you are wintering over...

We are also sort of "newlyweds" I think it's been 4 or 5 yrs or something. We're both not big on that anniversary stuff. I also agree with you about those fishing licenses!!!! What a stupid system. Hunting licneses are the same way. They are issued by states, which is horrible for nomadic folks like us. I think it's less expensive to just break the law and pay fines if caught. Seriously. Society makes no sense to me, as seen in many ranting posts... I can't believe they outlawed a person's ability to feed themselves by taking one fish or small game here and there.

Ok, I'll catch up with you guys on your website. Seems we all have a lot in common. \
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Old 09-02-2007, 03:34   #59
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Old 09-02-2007, 04:08   #60
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Originally Posted by Alan Wheeler
Hey now, that man deserves a DB.
db? does that stand for double bashing, now a carlton cold or stongbow sweet is more like it

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