I realized after a comment (thanks Travis & Maggie!) on an earlier post that in the series looking back at provisioning that I entirely ignored the big question of stowage. Trading email with Diane while she preps for Ceilydh’s Pacific crossing kicked me into gear. Where do you put a few thousand pounds of food on an already packed-to-the-gunwales cruising boat? How do you make it last?
Yeah. I know. Honestly, we didn’t plan this very well. Mostly, we bought the food, then figured out where to put it. It was kind of stressful, and our boat was a mess. Not a lot of wisdom to share except that it’s amazing how you CAN find the room! As we put things away, we made notations on our provisioning spreadsheet- it turned out to be really, really helpful later. Stowage locations for different items seem obvious at the time but get lost in the memory fog all too quickly.
A few things worked really well for us in helping things last. Reading up on how to to extend the life of fresh whole foods kept at ambient temperature brought a few fundamentals:
- Keep a zone of separation from one type of produce to another. No touching, and in some cases (like citrus), not even nearby!
- Keep them out of direct light, in the dark if possible
- Try to have everything as well ventilated as possible
- Mellow temps = mellow veggies: if that locker gets heated up by the sun, it’s not going to keep your tomatoes well.
- wrapping individual items for some types went a long way to extending their useful life
Listed below are our long-haul “freshies” stored aboard, and how we kept them from spoiling.
Onions: wrapped individually in paper towels. It felt really wasteful (we normally use dish towels, not paper towels!) but they did get re-used eventually, and the wrapping was KEY to keeping onions (and many other veggies) from turning. After sawing the paper towel roll in half, I tore sheets in half again to find a good wrapping size. They seemed to last forever, but the thing is- you can get onions almost everywhere in the Pacific, so there’s no reason to get tons except for convenience and cost efficiency.
Cabbages: we were able to get cabbages with all the big outer leaves intact, as harvested. One of the only things we washed before stowing, they got a soak in a very mild bleach solution to kill any critters tucked intothe deep leaf crevices. I left all the outer leaves on- they dried and yellowed but it kept the inner leaves well. A 15 minute “bath” in a mild bleach solution, then another to rinse, then dried upside down in the shade of the cockpit. They lasted a very long time. Cabbage sautéed with cider vinegar has become a favorite dish of the kids!
Tomatoes: purchased in stages of ripeness, tomatoes were also wrapped individually in paper and carefully packed in a bin. The greenest tomatoes went on the bottom and the ripest stayed on top. We kept tomatoes for nearly a month this way.
Potatoes: wrapped in paper, kept separately from other produce in their own bin. These also lasted approximately forever in a relatively dark / relatively cool spot. I seem to remember we had plenty of potato and potato-like veggies available in the islands, though, so… great for the passage, but in the scheme of things, not a real priority for provisioning.
Limones: oh we miss the Mexican limon! These lasted really well, individually wrapped in wee little squares of aluminum foil. Yes, foil. A tip from another cruiser- the wrap made a big difference… unwrapped / poorly wrapped did not keep nearly as well.
Eggs: contrary to popular practice in the USA, there is no refrigeration required. We kept them for a long time… longer than I should probably admit… I think it was probably pushing two months, in fact. They were stored in the flat trays we purchased them in, and turned when I remembered. It wasn’t very often, to be honest.
Oranges/grapefruit: these citrus fruits were stored away from everything else, a strategy to keep one from spoiling another. They were also in ventilated bins put in a locker (dark / ventilated) in the girls’ cabin. We didn’t wrap them, and they may have lasted better if wrapped. We washed these in a diluted bleach bath. I’m not sure if it helped. We found that we loved the sweet Mexican grapefruits and didn’t get through the oranges as easily. There is an abundance of fruit in the Marquesas, so if that’s your destination- don’t go too crazy!
sorting citrus in the cockpit, somewhere in the Pacific ocean