Practical Ways to Store Food without a Fridge

Over the last couple of weeks there has been an article from treehugger.com floating around Facebook, Reddit, and Pinterest highlighting Korean designer, Jihyun Ryou’s five creative ways to store food without a fridge.  The designer’s goal was “re-introducing and re-evaluating traditional oral knowledge of food, which is closer to nature,” by using objects to make this knowledge visible.  The designs are super modern looking with clean lines and things like sand and water mounted to your wall.  And, I have to admit, they do look cool, despite being kind of impractical.

In light of their impracticality, and because we’ve lived without a fridge for the last 9 months, I’m offering up some practical answers to Ryou’s modern artworks; while less artistic, everyday homesteaders can apply them to their own kitchens.

Symbiosis of apple and potato:

Most fruits don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator.  The taste of tomatoes will rapidly deteriorate in the fridge.  The fridge stops the process of ripening fruits, which if you are buying them from the store is the opposite of what you want.  Potatoes don’t need refrigeration either.  As Ryou points out, potatoes can be kept from sprouting if stored underneath apples, since apples, like many fruits, emit ethylene gas.  Ryou’s design offers a wall mounted box to store your potatoes underneath a shelf to set your apples on.

My mom had one of these hanging produce baskets.  You could do a quick search on Amazon and find a multitude of both hanging and counter-top baskets, and even some bins in which you could keep your potatoes stored beneath your apples. Some of them are pretty cool looking.

Verticality of Root Vegetables:

Ryou’s design is quite beautiful with carrots and green onions sticking out of wet sand (again wall mounted; I’m wondering how heavy these things are).  Here is my solution for keeping vegetables both vertical and moist:

We used this clever design for carrots, onions and celery from the CSA last summer.  Turnips, beets and radishes could go in a bowl.  And a sink filled with cold water will revive a head of lettuce that you thought was a goner too.

Breathing of Eggs:

Many people know that eggs don’t need to be refrigerated.  In Europe, eggs are purchased from a plain old unrefrigerated shelf in the grocery.  Without a fridge, eggs from the grocery store will last about three weeks.  Because egg shells are porous, Ryou offers another reason to keep them from the fridge:

An egg has millions of holes in its shell. It absorbs the odour and substance around itself very easily. This creates a bad taste if it’s kept in the fridge with other food ingredients. This shelf provides a place for eggs outside of the fridge. Also the freshness of eggs can be tested in the water. The fresher they are, the further they sink.

We use this to keep our eggs on the counter.

I’ve been told the eggs at the store can be up to 30 days old already when you buy them, so imagine how long fresh eggs from the back yard would last.  Of course, our eggs rarely make it more than a few days before they are eaten, so we don’t worry about testing their freshness, but I could easily get a glass of water to test them in if needed.

The Dryness of Spices:

Ryou’s design for  a spice bottle is really very clever.  It takes the grandmother’s tradition of keeping some grains of rice in your spices to absorb moisture to keep it from clumping one step further by keeping the rice in its own compartment within the jar.  We don’t really have this problem in Colorado, it is not ever humid enough to make our spices clump.  The only fault I find with this design is that it is once again on a wall mounted shelf.  Spices actually lose flavor when exposed to the light.  It is better to keep them in a cabinet behind closed doors where they can stay in the dark.

Note that this is not my spice cabinet (though I might wish it was).  Thanks to Louise at My Food Voice  for sharing.  My spice cabinet is a jumbled mess, not fit for photography.  ;)

Now, of course, I know that Ryou’s designs are meant to be art, not necessarily practical.  But the purpose of this art besides being beautiful, and the purpose of Ryou’s project, is to get people to see (and therefore think about and use) their food and to think outside of the ice box when it comes to storing it.

What are some other ways to keep food fresh without of the fridge?

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Categories: Simple Living, Top 5, Unplugging the Fridge, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Practical Ways to Store Food without a Fridge

  1. I’d love to leave my fresh eggs out, but I don’t have counter space for all we get in one day (my hens give me about a dozen a day). Nice to hear about the apples and taters though!

  2. karyn

    I was just revisiting the idea of going fridge-free. Two questions – can you leave store eggs out?
    I read that they are washed and the washing removes a protective layer on the shell? Second, what do you do with meat, dairy, and leftovers? Thanks for the post and the inspiration to revisit this.

    • karyn

      Sorry, just realized you have more links about the fridge, which I’ll check out soon. Thanks!

    • It’s true, when a chicken lays an egg it puts a protective coating on it that seals out bad stuff – all egg producers are required to wash the eggs, therefore removing the coating. A rule of thumb is if you bought it cold, keep it cold.

  3. I just throw everything in the fridge and keep wondering why fairly fresh produce isn’t cutting it. Oh how much I have to learn! Thanks for sharing-we have a CSA and a just planted veggie garden so I’m going to need to figure out how to keep produce around for an extended period of time and this definitely gave me a good start!

    • If your CSA share is large, you might end up keeping carrots or turnips in your sink filled with cold water until you can get to them… we do, fridge or not!

  4. jj

    I’m spoiled – i have a root cellar where we keep root veggies, cabbage, and eggs, at least in the wintertime. Presumably it will also work in the summer, though not quite as well, as it will be considerably warmer down there in July, though it will still be much cooler than ambient temperatures in the rest of the house.

    • Linda

      You guys might try a zeer pot. I have a HUGE one and I never need a fridge for ANYTHING. Zeer pots keep just about anything cool. Google it.

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  8. rita reinig

    I heard or read that you can use apple cider vinegar on the uncooked egg and it will last for an extended period of time. Maybe it does something to the pores of the shell.

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  10. Jason Adams

    Beeswax or petroleum jelly on store bought, refrigerated eggs will seal the pores, and they will keep about 2 weeks, or a little more if you remember to turn the eggs every so often to keep the yolk from settling.

  11. MJ

    Can I keep eggs bought from store in the basement if so for how long

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