This is the time of the year when all sorts of wonderful things pop up: plants in the garden, farmers markets, bugs. This is also the time of the year when some not so wonderful things pop up: thunderstorms, major weather systems with wind, hail, tornadoes and hurricanes. And when your area gets hit with one of these (and we can almost always bet money on that one, no matter where you live), there is a chance, even if remote, that your living unit is going to either suffer damage or lose power or both.

Aunt Toby, the DH and all the little Chez Siberians(who are not longer so little, nor are they in residence), have experienced this. Thunderstorms that knocked power out for hours. Ice storms in the winter that have snapped trees in half on top of power lines and left us without power to run the blower on the furnace for days at a time. Gentlemen at the control of backhoes who..well, we won’t talk about the whole ‘call before you dig’ from people who won’t.

The results are the same. No power. It doesn’t matter if you live in New York City, Bugtussle, Idaho, Chez Siberia, or any place else. If you don’t have power, there are certain basic things that do not function. If you live in a rural area, there are an additional group of things that cease to function as well and we will discuss those at a later date.

One of the things that just stops (though for a while it can provide a certain amount of function) is a refrigerator. Freezers are in the same category. Now, if you lose your power for only a couple of hours – even a day – if you have a freezer full of frozen food and no one does the obvious thing and opens it up (why do that? Really? You’ve looked in there a zillion times; the freezer does not contain anything new or wondrous in it just because the substation down the road got zapped because a squirrel decided that the coating on a cable looked appetizing. Trust me on that one), then you are pretty safe. Once the power goes on, you are good to go. If you lose the power and it’s longer than a day, then we’re talking real damage to food. Another thing that stops is all other electric appliances such as washers, dryers and cooking devices and a stove.

Ah – frozen food and no stove to cook it with.

Even if this occurs during the summer (and if you live in a city, you have additional troubles if the power cuts out for more than a day in a place like New York City in August – we’re talking dangerous) so you don’t have issues with heating (just keeping cool), you still have issues with keeping fed and not losing the food you have to spoilage.

So, Aunt Toby is going to suggest something radical, cutting edge, green…even.

It’s time to think about preserving food in ways that do not require the constant application of electric energy. Those ways are canning and drying (there are certain things that really only work well with freezing, but we will discuss that at another time as well since the case being made here is to use preservation techniques that if the electricity goes out, it won’t make any difference at all). And also time to think about cooking food in ways that do not use electric power and possibly do not even use things like propane tanks, charcoal or other fuels. It’s one thing to do a little bit of a grill out on the deck; it’s quite another thing if it’s the middle of the winter and you are faced with nothing but a fireplace or a woodstove in your house and firing up the hibachi just might be the most dangerous thing you can do.

So, in her new resolution to actually perform what she says she’s going to perform, Aunt Toby is planning this: A multipart series on Canning, Drying, and cooking when you don’t have your usual venues at your disposal, plus an extra added series on freezing. How does that sound to you? Everyone like that? Good.

And in the meantime, to whet people’s appetites, here is an article from a recent copy of the New York Times about gourmet canning. Time in a Bottle

And commit the song at the top to memory.
(This post can also be found at Aunt Toby’s blog)



Snarky housewife from Upstate New York. Into gardening, fiber arts, smallholder farming.