Cooling & Preservation without Electricity
The present cooling and preservation technologies are electricity dependent and generation of electricity from conventional sources of energy has already attracted concerns about depletion of resources, environmental degradation, cost of electricity etc. It is, thus, important to find out ways and means to achieve cooling and preservation without the use of electricity. In this regard, we have to look back to the innovations used by our ancestors in this field and revive them with the help of modern technology for maximum benefits…
- Dr. S. S. Verma
Refrigeration in its small to very large equipment or installations has become an integral part of most of the population of present civilization to be used for cooling and preservation. However, still there is a large section of society who is far away from the benefits or utilization of refrigeration technology and moreover, upto few decades before almost all the population used to live without the use of so called modern cooling and preservation technologies. The present cooling and preservation technologies are electricity dependent and generation of electricity from conventional sources of energy has already attracted concerns about depletion of resources, environmental degradation, cost of electricity etc. It is, thus, important to find out ways and means to achieve cooling and preservation without the use of electricity. In this regard, we have to look back to the innovations used by our ancestors in this field and revive them with the help of modern technology for maximum benefits.
Basic Technologies of Cooling & Preservation without Use of Electricity
Canning is basically vacuum packing in sterile environment. If we don’t have electricity, canning is possible on a wood stove, though it would be a lengthy (yet effective) process. We can process anything: meat, vegetables, stews, fruit, fish and dessert like carrot pudding. Here are some very general canning tips:
• The jars and lids must be sterilized first, by boiling for a few minutes.
• Then add what you want to can, add boiled water, and some seasonings.
• Leave at least 1/4 inch space at the top.
• Tighten the lid, then loosen a quarter turn. This will allow room for the air to leave.
• A high pressure canner is ideal, it cuts the time by at least half.
• Take out, tighten the lids and let cool completely.
• Ensure that all jars have sealed – the lids will be concave.
Almost everything can be dehydrated (dried), plain and simple. The earlier people used to dry their meat and fish by hanging it, and smoke it to keep the bugs off. The meat will last for the remainder of the warm months and all winter. Today we can purchase dried fruit, mushrooms, vegetables, and hydrate them. We can have a wood oven and a wood dehydrator – as these would run without power.
Around the world, meat is preserved with salt, thus the birth of sausage. But sausage does not last long without cooling.
Techniques of Cooling & Preservation without Use of Electricity
Mitticool Fridge: uses clay and is designed as an evaporative fridge. Water from the upper chambers drips down the side, and gets evaporated taking away heat from the inside, leaving the chambers cool. The top upper chamber is used to store water. A small lid made from clay is provided on top. A small faucet tap is also provided at the front lower end of chamber to tap out the water for drinking use. In the lower chamber, two shelves are provided to store the food material. The first shelf can be used for storing vegetables; fruits etc. and the second shelf can be used for storing milk etc. Cool and affordable, this clay refrigerator is a very good option to keep food, vegetables and even milk naturally fresh for days.
Wind-chill Food Preservation: the device connects an air tube to an evaporation chamber, which connects to a sealed refrigeration chamber that looks a lot like an esky, the contents of which are cooled through the process of evaporative cooling. It works by passively drawing in warm ambient air through the funnel, which is fed into a pipe that’s been buried underground. This already starts to cool down the air before it’s fed into coiled cooper pipe that’s been immersed in water in the evaporation chamber. The evaporation process is helped along by a small, solar-powered fan. The water evaporating around pipe chills the air inside and this is then fed back underground before entering the refrigeration chamber. The next step will be to improve the design to achieve a consistent 4.5 degrees Celsius temperature in the refrigeration chamber, which is what’s needed to keep food from spoiling.
Preserving fruit and vegetables using solar power: the device, using a liter of water per week and solar power, produce can be preserved. A ventilator turns the water into humidity, keeping produce cool inside a tent that can hold about 440 pounds of food. The device is currently being tested, but it could offer a cool use of solar technology in countries where fridges may be scarce but sun is abundant.
Store vegetables in sand for months (Groundfridge): Still today, preserving seeds of root vegetable (like ginger, potato, turmeric and arbi etc.) for use in agriculture in large quantities is done by storing these seeds in fields under soil for many months as safe and best for use. So, we can store root vegetables for months in soil/sand for use as food items or as seeds. Soil/sand works to prevent moisture from rotting the fruits and veggies. This centuries-idea gives an alternative for cooling and preservation of food items without the use of any energy at all. Groundfrige can be installed underground and covered with a layer of dirt about three feet thick.
Futuristic Bio Robot Refrigerator uses gel to preserve food: Rather than using cool air, the refrigerator of the future could employ gel. Engineer (Yuriy Dmitriev) decided to develop a new idea for refrigeration, and his Bio Robot Refrigerator design incorporates odorless, non-sticky biopolymer gel to chill food. Once to get past the futuristic coolness of the gel (pun intended), another unique innovation is that fridge uses zero energy.
Cooling via Vegetation: Coca Cola has teamed up with Leo Burnett Colombia and International Physics Center for designing a Bio Cooler. It will become operational when users water plants growing on top of the device. The water evaporated inside the cooler, chilling the drinks inside. On top of the cooler, a mirror took temperatures to the next level, converting gas to liquid to ensure the perfect chill. The idea could spur ideas in the future for cooling via vegetation.
Other Things to Avoid Use of Cooling & Preservation
Change of mindset: Believe it or not, more food than we might think can go for some time without refrigeration and still remain safe to eat. While we may be used to stocking up on and refrigerating cheese, butter and fruits and vegetables, it is entirely possible to buy just enough of these items for a week and store them in a cool, dry place on countertop. Say goodbye to huge stock-up trips, though, because without some sort of cooling system, the food will eventually go bad the longer it sits out at room temperature.
Know Your Fruits And Veggies And Their Needs: Your only option of storing your fruits and vegetables need not be the refrigerator. There are plenty of other options for storing them, and some of them may even allow your food to last longer than if you kept them in the refrigerator. Generally, the optimal conditions for storage of fruits and veggies are a temperature between 50 degrees and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (pumpkins, winter squash, and sweet potatoes can tolerate up to 60 degrees) and low humidity. Cabbages, celery, and root crops can handle cooler temperatures, down to 30 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and can tolerate more humidity.
Learn To Cook Just Enough: What are we supposed to do with the food that we’ve cooked and is left over from the meal after everyone has eaten? What do we do with the leftovers? The first answer is to plan ahead and cook only enough for the meal so there is nothing left over to worry about storing. The second answer is, depending on what the food contains, to set the food aside in a semi-cool place and eat it for the next meal or snack. In other countries, such as Japan, meals are often left in a covered pot at room temperature. The food is eaten as snacks throughout the day or is eaten at the next meal.
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