Eating Afloat

Dry Stores, and How to Keep 'Em Edible:

Buying often-eaten things like rice, beans, whole spices and grains, powders, etc. from bulk bins and storing them in reusable containers eliminates lots of unneccessary cardboard and cellophane trash, and is often a considerably cheaper way to buy things. Dry items like these keep forever if stored properly, and if you carry a grain mill, you can grind your own flours and spices as needed for the freshest, best-tasting bread and pasta recipes you've ever had!

Thick plastic or heavy glass jars with tightly sealing lids are much better able to keep pests and moisture from contaminating your food. Cardboard should be a persona non grata on a boat-- roaches love to lay their eggs in its nooks and feast on the glue.  Once the marine air has made a box good and soggy, it can apparently sustain roach life for years. We are rustic and hardy in many ways, and have made certain sacrifices over the past couple of years, but living on a roach and/or vermin-infested boat is not an option for any length of time. Carefully cushioned, well-packed mason jars for us, then! Liquids like oils, vinegars and extracts go into screw-topped Nalgene bottles.  So far the system has worked very well, even while heeling and being tossed around underway.  


Tiny Gardening:

Growing a small herb garden on board has also proven to be a worthy endeavor-- the requisite parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme have all adapted to boat life nicely, along with mint, basil, oregano, tarragon and sweet marjoram.  Fresh herbs are incomparable in taste, and they also add vitamins to the food they're flavoring.  Securing them while underway is either a pain or a refreshing challenge, depending on which crew member you ask.  A better system for holding them in place is slated for construction this winter to keep grumbling to a minimum next season. SARABANDE's unusually large deckhouse portlights are ideal for growing plants, so hopefully our garden will winter well.

Some of the Most Technologically Advanced Equipment on the Ship:

We have a Family Grain Mill for grinding flours.  It's got a Bosch-powered motor and a manual crank, and it's been a champ.  It can also grind meat and make nut butters.  

Other handy items include a digitial thermometer for soap making and sweets (and complaining about the ambient air temperature), a hand mixer, and a very small grinder for milling small meal-sized amounts of whole spices, plus the usual collection of knives, spoons, peelers, etc.  A silicone muffin tin has worked well for onboard baking so far, but Alicia sadly has found silicone loaf and cake pans inferior to the regular rigid style ones.   A shame, since silicone is so much easier to stow!

We've also got two pressure cookers, one 10 quart Innova and one 4 quart Presto.  These are fantastic!  They do wonders for speeding up cooking times, saving fuel and keeping the cabin cool when cooking in the summer.  The bigger one also doubles as a lobster/crab/pasta boiling pot and a canner.

We Ain't Afraid of No Botulism:

Speaking of canning (or 'bottling', as I'm told the British charmingly call it), we're placing high hopes on its role in provisioning for our big trip.  This year, we successfully canned strawberry, peach, blackberry and cherry preserves and pie fillings, and tomato sauce using the water bath method.  Under pressure, we processed shucked corn for fall soups, and there was one disastrous round of garlic-dill pickles that won't be mentioned again. Hopefully by the end of the month we'll also have some time to go apple and pumpkin picking to fill up the cupboard a little more before winter sets in.  Over the fall, we hope to try canning some soups and chili for quick, easy dinners on evenings spent fixing deck leaks. Canning your own stuff vs. buying commercially canned food is healthier, the taste and texture compared to storebought is far better, and if all the common-sense rules of cleanliness and processing times are followed, it's perfectly safe.

We anticipate doing lots and lots and lots more canning next spring and summer before we shove off!  Research says that many of our destinations offer little variety in the fresh food available, and commericially canned food, along with offering crap nutrition, is going to be expensive.  Therefore, we'll take advantage of the excellent local NJ and NYC farmer's markets and process all our favorite things to take with us, plus meat for the pets' food.  Our dry stores, home-canned reserve, fresh things from local markets and the fish we (hopefully) catch should keep us fat and happy throughout our trip.

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