Kitchen Nightmares: What to Save When You’ve Lost Power?

6 Jul

When you experience power loss on a major scale (see: DC region. See: my sweatbox apartment, which lost power for 5 and a half days last week), one frustrating clean-up task is tackling your refrigerator. Your first instinct, if you’re like most of us, is likely to begin wildly throwing every possible item into the garbage. Toss baby, toss! No tainted mayonnaise for me, thank you very much!

Of course, you could always clean out your fridge this way.

If you’re anything like the History Teacher and myself, your first instinct is to pray that you won’t have to throw away every. Single. Item. When you’re cooking and shopping on a budget, the prospect of spending a few hundred dollars restocking your fridge is about as appealing as eating that 5 day-old tainted mayonnaise.

Just imagine there are wads of cash tucked between the bananas and celery stalks. (That’s how it feels, anyway.)

But take heart! After furiously Googling “How can I save my poor condiments?” I uncovered what might be the most useful government web site in the history of the interwebs: Foodsafety.gov. According to this page, you can actually save more items than you might think.

Thanks for helping me avoid self-infection-by-way-of-spoiled-food, Federal Government!

Top Nine Tips from Foodsafety.gov:

  1. Toss any kind of raw or cooked meat, fish, or poultry if the item has been above 50˚F for more than two hours. Unless you preserve it in a cooler with ice (or dry ice, apparently) soon after losing power, meat is a no-go.
  2. While you should toss soft, shredded or low-fat cheeses, hard cheeses, processed cheese (who’s surprised that Velveeta could essentially survive a nuclear holocaust? *crickets*) and cheeses like Parmesan that come in jars or plastic containers are fine. (She said, mourning the block of New York Extra Sharp Cheddar that she tossed, as it decomposed in some lonely landfill.)
  3. The only kinds of dairy that you should save are butter and margarine. Milk, yogurt and their other dairy brethren should be thrown out.
  4. Unless your fruit has already been sliced, you can save whole, dried or canned fruits (even open cans).
  5. Eggs, I’m afraid, are goners. Whether cooked or raw, toss ‘em.
  6. The only condiments that need tossing are creamy dressings, oyster / fish sauces, and open jars of spaghetti sauce. Makes sense.
  7. Basic breads, rolls, muffins, and wraps are fine, but refrigerated dough, cooked rice / pasta, and fresh pasta are out.
  8. Keep your fruit pies! Custard and cream pies, however, should be tossed.
  9. Raw veggies, mushrooms, and fresh herbs can stay (hurrah!), but cooked and prepared veggies are out.

Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night shall keep me from pie.

For the complete chart, check out the link above. As for me, I’ll be having a mustard, cheddar, butter, fruit and apple pie sandwich. With a side of fresh vegetables, of course.

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4 Responses to “Kitchen Nightmares: What to Save When You’ve Lost Power?”

  1. Joe July 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Very useful to know. Though the eggs thing really surprises me, since in Europe eggs aren’t refrigerated in supermarkets. You should be able to get at least a week of non-refrigeration before they go bad. Unless it’s one of those “once you start refrigerating, you must keep refrigerating” things.

    P.S. Love the nickname “the History Teacher.”

    • galleykitchengal July 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      Huh — sometimes I think Europe really has the edge over us in terms of dairy and whatnot (all that deliciously unpasteurized milk and all). You may be right; and it’s also possible that the Federal “LEVEL ORANGE” Government goes slightly overboard with some of those warnings, too. I’ve eaten raw cookie dough for the past … oh, 25 years, and have yet to die of salmonella, so there you go. 🙂

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