Making Do

I bought a  couple of dollar-store thermometers and put them up in each of our unheated laundry rooms. (We rent both sides of a duplex, so we have two of everything.)

I’d expected the rooms to be cold. Especially the one we don’t use for laundry. They certainly feel cold. Very cold when you’re in there after dark lugging wet clothes.

They are cool, for sure. But 50 degrees cool just after dark, not high-30s cool like I expected. In the morning, after a full night of below-10 degrees outside, the rooms were in the low 40s.

Which means, of course, that those 80 pounds of apples aren’t going to keep in there like I’d hoped they would. The potatoes either.

Someone moved my box of 5 pounds of carrots to the top of the dryer that we use. About a week after we bought them, they were wilting.

What all this really means is, it’s time to rethink my cold-storage plan.

Here are my choices as I see them, and the pros and cons:

  • Unfinished basement. PROS: I’m quite certain it’s much colder than the laundry rooms. It’s huge, and would hold a year’s supply of food for probably five families. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t freeze. I have two teenagers who can help lug stuff up and down. CONS: You have to go outside to get to it. It’s very very cold outside a lot of the time, and especially at night when I’m thinking about dinner. I’m worried that we would end up letting this food go to waste just because no one wants to go down stairs to the yard and then down more stairs to the basement, and up again, in the cold.
  • Two enclosed, but not insulated or heated, front porches. PROS: Much, much easier access then the basement. One of the porches we don’t use at all as a porch, so we could stack it full without a problem. Both are good sized. CONS: It would be very hard to regulate the temperature. Where we live, in the mountains, we might have a high of 50 degrees and a low of 5 degrees on the same day. That’s a big swing, and it might be hard to keep the food from getting too cold at night.
  • Figure out how to keep the laundry rooms colder. PROS: These rooms seem like the best bet. The insulation keeps them from having wide temperature swings, but it also keeps them from being really cold. Each room has a window and a door to the outside, and a door with a window in it going to the kitchens (yes, we have two.) The kitchens are where the only heaters for the living areas of our house are. (Two in-the-wall space heaters.) In the kitchen and living room that we use as such, we turn the heat down when we go to bed. On the other side, Adrienne uses the living room as her bedroom, which means the kitchen heater has to stay on at night, but is turned way down during the day when she’s at school.  Draft dodgers, and opening the outside window a crack in the early morning and evening to let the cold air in, but blocking the window during the warmest part of the day, might help. CONS: Daily monitering of temperatures might get old after a while.
  • Buying less food, and monitoring it well to process it as it moves past it’s prime. PROS: This would require a little food processing on a regular basis, but will also keep us aware of what we have in our stores. Not buying a ton of one fruit or vegetable might mean more variety. CONS: If we can’t buy a lot of an item when it’s on sale, we might end up paying more later. I don’t really have food processing down pat yet, but I’m working on it.

I think that working on getting the laundry rooms colder, storing what food can take it out on the porch, and buying smaller amounts and processing them as needed is the solution.

Here’s what I did with those five pounds of wilted carrots. I got out my food processer last night and grated them. It took all of five minutes. I didn’t even peel them, just cut off both ends and put them through the grater. I bagged them up, marked the date and number of cups in each bag, and stuck them in the freezer. Now I’m ready to add carrots to soups and stews, make some carrot cake or muffins, or whatever. Putting Food By has a recipe in it for Carrot Marmelade that sounds interesting.

It’s not important what I use those 18 cups of grated carrots for.

What’s important is that I didn’t throw them away.

More ideas here. And here. And here.



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8 responses to “Making Do

  1. I am enjoying your blog. I, too, am having a hard time putting fresh food by. Our garage is too warm. I bought 2 10lb bags of small russet potatoes when they were on sale for $.79 but they aren’t keeping well. They turned green in spots. Some eyes are starting to grow, some are feeling a little soft. I am going to get off of the ‘puter and am resolved to peel them (I usually don’t, skins have the vitamins we need but these skins aren’t in good shape), cube them up and cook them, and portion them out for adding to soups, casseroles or frying for breakfast-dinners! Thanks for the inspiration!
    PS- Seattle is nice. We live farther north, almost at the Canadian border. We think it’s heaven, if you can get past the rain and short winter days. The long summer days make up for it, though, it’s light till 11pm for a while!

    • Wow…that is a long summer day. We’re at a pretty high elevation in Northern Nevada right now. We have short days all year long. In Las Vegas it stays light until after 9 pm in the summer, but here it’s dark at 7, and even that is just for a few weeks. Winter it doesn’t get light until after 7 a.m. and is dark again before 5 p.m. I’m fine with the early night, but I struggle with waking up when it’s still dark outside.

      I am a little afraid that I’m going to have 45 pounds of potatoes to peel and boil if I don’t figure out how to store them colder. I might have Nick take one bag down to the basement tonight, just to be safe. I need to take the basements temperature to make sure it’s not too cold in there.

      I’m looking forward to checking out your blog 🙂

  2. I’m not sure how I could handle the food storage thing. I’m not so good at canning and here in MN its either too hot or too cold, the in between temps(my favorites) don’t seem to last too long. Mostly I don’t have to do too much other than stock up a little…my family is small 2.3 people (my partner is only here on weekends).
    Canning, freezing, dehydrating and etc are things I’d like to learn eventually….maybe even gardening but I’d be happy if I could just eat closer to “real” food. I’m just doing my best.

    • Yes. That’s all we can do. That’s all any of us can do. I think once we start really doing our best, instead of doing less than that but saying we’re doing our best–that’s when we’ll see real change. Okay…going to check your blog!

  3. Good job outta you for not tossing the carrots!

  4. Our garage stays around 55º all winter (our winters are short here). I can keep potatoes for several months in that, as well as apples. Both of those stay dry. They’re ideal at 45º, which is the temperature that you have.

    The problem with the carrots is that they need to stay wet (which is why they wet them several times a day at the grocery store).

    If you want to store carrots there, you need to store them in a bucket of damp sand.

    You can also store hard winter squashes with your potatoes and apples (butternut, pumpkin, etc). They will do fine.

    I bought 360 pounds of potatoes before Thanksgivng, and we are still eating them.

    If you have a ton of apples, and they start to wrinkle, remember that they are still okay to eat. You may just prefer their texture when they are cooked, so they would be ideal for using in apple pie, apple tarts, etc.

    Also, you can dry your carrots to use in soups as well.

    • Thank you so much! I pulled out my copy of <a href="The Encyclopedia of Country Living“>Carla Emerson’s amazing book this morning and saw that she had 40 to 50 degrees for potatoes. I knew I would be, because last winter I was shocked to have potatoes last months and months when I forgot a bag in the laundry room. You know what happens to potatoes in your kitchen for 9 months out of the year in Vegas! Yikes. That’s what I was used to. I guess I just second guessed my experiences last winter. Do you think that the apples will be okay for a while? Carla says 30 degrees is best. I’d love to buy another box, maybe even two, but I’m afraid that I’ll be left trying to peel and sauce 200 pounds of apples!

      You always give the best comments, thank you so much. I adore your site. Maybe next time I’m in Vegas we can hit the grocery sales together! LOL

  5. This is why I keep eyeing the prices on chest freezers. It is a really weird thing to long for, but I do.

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