Residents along the Eastern Seaboard are preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. Even if you’re not in the areas expected to be most severely affected by the storm, you may be wondering how you can be ready, food-wise, for whatever it may throw your way, whether that means power outages, localized flooding or just generally inclement weather that keeps you stuck inside for a couple of days.
First, let’s talk about food safety and how to deal with the situation when you lose electricity and have to take stock of your freezer and refrigerator.
- A fully packed, free-standing freezer (that has remained closed) will stay at acceptably cold temperatures for two to four days.
- Place dry ice, a block of ice or several frozen gel packs in a well-insulated cooler; transfer perishables from the refrigerator to the cooler.
- According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, a 50-pound block of dry ice will keep the contents of a full, 18-cubic-foot freezer cold for two days.
- The following partially defrosted foods may be safe to eat/refreeze if they still contain ice crystals or have been kept below 40 degrees: beef, veal, lamb, pork, ground meat, casseroles, soups and stews, hard cheeses, juices, flours, nuts, packaged waffles and pancakes, frozen meals/convenience foods.
- If dairy items, poultry, meat, seafood, fresh pasta, fresh greens, eggs, soy meat substitutes and leftovers have been held at 40 degrees or higher for more than two hours, discard them.
- If opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish, commercial garlic in oil or other spreads (or any salads made with those items) have been held at 50 degrees or above for more than eight hours, discard them.
- The following items are safe (if they had been opened/refrigerated): peanut butter, jelly, mustard, ketchup, olives, pickles, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar-based dressings, fruit, raw vegetables and hard cheeses (including grated).
- Never taste food to determine its safety, and do not rely on odor or appearance.
- Food information hotlines: Agriculture Department’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, 888-674-6854; Food and Drug Administration food-safety information, 888-723-3366.
You can check out a very thorough rundown on how to keep food safe in an emergency over on the USDA website.
Now, if you fall into the camp less likely to lose power — or likely to lose it only for a short spell — here are some easy but hearty pantry-driven recipes to help you ride things out.
Blender Dutch Babies. This puffy pancake makes for an impressive breakfast or dessert and takes kindly to whatever fruit or other sweet toppings you might have on hand. Or go savory with cheese, vegetables or spicy harissa.
Root Vegetable and Apple Hash Baked With Eggs. Pantry staples combine to make a satisfying lunch or dinner. Feel free to play with the spices — this is a good time to take stock of your spice cabinet and see what needs using up.
Bread, Cheese and Chive Puddings. These are a cross between French toast, bread pudding and grilled cheese. And if you did a snowstorm-style grocery-store grab of bread, eggs and milk (I won’t tell anyone!), you’ll be glad to have this recipe.
Lentil Salad With Roasted Potato Wedges. Maybe you are an adherent to deputy Food editor Bonnie Benwick’s Dinner in Minutes pantry? If so, you’re in great shape. Let’s resurface this surefire vegan hit.
Peach Melba Shortbread Bars. Use whatever jam you have around the house to create your own custom flavor. The nuts are negotiable, too.
Kara Elder contributed to this report.
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