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.