Every indication is that we New Jerseyans, along with countless others along the Eastern Seaboard, may be in for some difficult days when Hurricane Sandy hits.
State and local officials have determined which areas are to be evacuated and, hopefully, those people will be out of harm’s way.
For those of us who are riding out the storm at home, it may get challenging as many experts have predicted an inevitable loss of electricity during the storm. It’s particularly important to consider food safety when our refrigerators and freezers have lost power.
The two most important rules of food safety:
NEVER taste food to determine its safety.
When in doubt, throw it out.
A properly chilled 40°F refrigerator will keep food properly cold for 4 hours once the power has gone out. (That means only opening the door minimally.)
Very perishable food, like eggs, chicken, fish and meat should be used within 2 hours of losing power. It sounds tough, but the best thing to do is to start cooking if you have a gas stove. An outdoor grill is okay too, but that might be tricky in a really bad storm. Perhaps a neighbor has a generator and will allow you a bit of shelf space for an item or two.
After the power has gone off, a full freezer will keep food safe for 48 hours; a half full freezer for 24 hours. However, it’s still important to check each item..
The US Department of Agriculture suggests “if an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, read the temperature when the power comes back on. If the appliance thermometer stored in the freezer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine the safety. Remember you can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for 2 hours.”
If you do lose power and you have no way of cooking, you’ll need to rely on your pantry for meals. The Mayo Clinic has put together some ideas for food during a hurricane. Here is a list of menus for 3 days. (The first page is a shopping list which it’s a bit too late for.) Scroll to the second page for a number of excellent ideas for quick meals, such as Granny Smith’s Apple Quesadilla..
Other recipe ideas are found in The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook. Take a look here (page two) for Pear and Pecan Chutney on English Muffin.
Good luck and stay safe…and dry.
Go to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management for full information on alerts and updates during Hurricane Sandy.