Boondocking (camping off the grid) has become so popular, that information about managing power and water resources has cropped up everywhere. But what about perishable food?
When we head off into the wild for a few weeks, it’s not uncommon for food, particularly the perishable variety, to be less readily available, more expensive, or less than optimal quality.
Some foods simply can’t be stored for long no matter what you do, but others can be made to last a long time, if handled the right way. That’s especially true for anything that can be frozen. But even freezing isn’t perfect (we’re all familiar with “freezer burn” of course).
When we first hit the road, my mother bought us a gift that she thought would be perfect for RVers: a vacuum sealer. Despite the fact that she’d never been RVing yet, Mom was right on the money, and her gift became a staple gadget in our kitchen. We used it so much that we finally wore it out, which gave us the opportunity to replace it with the latest and greatest model.
Removing the air and freezing makes things last a long time. A really long time. We’ve vacuum sealed and frozen fresh burgers, fish, chicken, pork, lambchops, coffee and other items that come out of the freezer like new after 6 months.
We’ve even sealed blueberries (freeze them before sealing to avoid crushing them) and corn on the cob (blanch before sealing and freezing to preserve flavor).
And of course we can vacuum seal things that don’t go in the freezer. Sealing lettuce in one of the larger canisters before heading out into the boonies not only makes it last a lot longer, but saves precious water and gray tank capacity, since we can wash it ahead of time, while we’re still hooked up.
Sealing items that stay at room temperature is great, too. That half-package of crackers or chips that will get stale after opening will stray fresh inside a canister for a very long time with all the air removed.
Here’s a great tip for maximizing bag usage: Make them larger than needed for packaging the current food you want to save. That may seem counterintuitive, and a waste of plastic, but it’s actually the opposite. When you cut the bag open, just slice off the top portion where the heat seal is… and you can wash & re-use the bag! The only part that is discarded (and is recyclable) is the small portion you cut off the top each time. The remaining bag is now still large enough to use again. We generally make our bags large enough to use at least three times, as it gets a little smaller each time you cut it open.
Hope you can use this simple little tip to enjoy some fresh fish, burgers, or other perishable items, even after you’ve been hiding out in the wilderness long after they would have gone bad in the fridge. Once things are thawed and cut out of the bag, they taste just as good as the day we bought them!
A special thanks to our dear friends, and fellow full-timers, Birgit & Greg for the use of their fridge, and to Birgit for her cameo appearance. ;-)
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