Tag Archives: living without a refrigerator

A Scientific Experiment


I had a lot of produce last week:

25lbs of peaches
10lbs of carrots
6lbs of strawberries
5lb of chili peppers

You might be wondering why I haven’t posted much lately. The reason is due to an enormous amount of produce paired with a broken refrigerator. That’s right, I loaded up to stockpile my garage for Armageddon, and then my refrigerator broke, forcing me to run around in circles and confusion on how to live without my fridge.

While I wanted to can peaches, I ended up sticking 10lbs in our (working) freezer.

Instead of canning chile peppers, I made chorizo-stuffed peppers for dinner (very yummy, but once again, some of the peppers are painfully spicy. After chopping them up my hands were burning for a good 8 hours, and that was after rubbing a cocktail of remedies on them – everything from vinegar to milk to toothpaste to line juice. Ouch.)

Thankfully, outside my copious amount of produce, my fridge was pretty bare.  I decided I would do an experiment to test how important refrigeration is by seeing how long I could eat non-refrigerated foods before getting sick.

The Experiment: How Long Will Refrigerated Foods Stay Edible When Not Refrigerated?

Foods will be edible, even when not refrigerated

1. Milk – Milk smells off before it actually tastes off.  One of our jugs of milk lasted about a day and a half in the cooler before I threw it out.

2. Half-and-Half – Ultrapasturized half and half cream lasts a really long time outside of refrigeration!  I’ve actually been guilty of leaving it out all morning (since I drink coffee throughout the whole morning) various days and I have never encountered sour creamer.  Until last week.  Our Half-and-Half lasted about 2 days in and out of the cooler.  On the third morning, I made my much-needed coffee, squinting through crusty eyes, I grabbed the half and half, and watched chunky, white clumps plop in to my coffee cup.  The cream didn’t even smell bad, and I was even tempted to drink the coffee anyway.  However, the whole much needed effect of having creamy coffee was absent, as the cream separated into little chunks in my coffee.  It is definitely classified as a heterogeneous mixture.  I gave up on creamy coffee that morning, but I finally surrendered to a cup of black Joe in the afternoon.

3. Yogurt – my homemade yogurt didn’t even get to experience the lack of refrigeration, as there were only a few spoonfuls left when the whole fiasco started.  My grocery store yogurt, in which I invested to use as my starter yogurt culture, got to participate in the experiment.  I made some yummy homemade bread two days after the fridge stopped working.  The recipe called for water or whey, so I used all the whey that was in the yogurt.  Several hours later, I gave my two year old some yogurt.  She declined and said it was yucky.  Later, I tried the offending food, and it was indeed yucky.  I was very surprised, since yogurt doesn’t become yogurt without incubating.  I just figured it would get tangy hanging out in the cooler, but it was gross.  I am not sure if I can blame taking the whey out or the lack of a refrigerator.

4. Celery, onions, carrots, and peppers – all of these produce items stayed just fine and fresh!  The carrots are starting to look a bit shriveled, but they aren’t rotting or anything.

5. Bananas – I’m not sure why I stuck bananas in the cooler instead of the freezer.  The cooler reeked of the high-sugar fruit.  I ended up sticking them in our new freezer at the end of the experiment.

6. Eggs – When I lived in Mexico, the eggs are sold on a shelf as opposed to in the refrigerator section, so I was not too worried about them.  I’ve been eating our minimally refrigerated eggs and am still alive and well.

While I lived four days without a refrigerator, I do not want to embrace a lifestyle without a refrigerator, and would have much to learn if I had to live without a refrigerator permanently.