At the time of this writing winter seems to be having another nor’easter, mostly pouring rain and wind where I am, but snow further North. My skiing friends will be happy. I recently returned home from my very long time working in Texas. Although the temperature there was just as cold, there wasn’t any snow. It’s hard to believe that time has passed so quickly and we’re now getting ready for boating season again. As always, I can’t wait to get back out on the water, not only on a boat, but plan to finally learn paddle boarding and maybe a little wind surfing (did I say that last year?). Being realistic, I expect quite a few splashes before success!
Some of you have spent the winter refitting your boat and may be planning to get it in the water by the end of the month. If you have a family and spend a lot of time going away on weekends or even for a day, now is a good time to make sure your galley is ready.
To begin, check everything you use for cooking and refrigeration to make sure it’s working properly. Fill the propane tank if using and check that all the electric and manual valves aren’t clogged. Inspect all connections and make sure there are no cracks or leaks in any of the cables. Hopefully at the end of last season you thoroughly cleaned out both the refrigerator and your cooking appliance or grill. Turn them back on and check that the temperature controls, burners and stove (if you have one) operate properly. In lieu of a stove and even burners, using a propane- fueled BBQ grill will work for most everything, especially if you’re without power.
For space saving buy dual-purpose and multiple-use items to maximize your boat galley’s gear. Use stacking pots, plastic bowls and dishes and other nesting sets to save storage space. Invest in multi-sized disposable zip-loc bags for storing items rather than bulky storage containers. Buy one of those drying mats that can fold and store easily rather than a dish drain board. Make sure that all the stock items you keep on board like coffee, tea, sugar, salt/pepper, condiments, snacks and paper goods are in containers or zip-locks that are sealed tight, unbreakable and stored in places that close so they don’t end up on the floor when underway.
Once your galley is stocked and functioning correctly, it’s time to review food storage and safety. Do as much prep as possible at home so you’re not doing so at the mooring or underway as your space to work in is so much more limited. You’ll also have less garbage to deal with. For all foods that need refrigeration, it’s best to have them chilled thoroughly prior to bringing on the boat. Load your cooler with ice and place your pre-chilled food in it to transport to the boat. Pack any frozen foods together or around your other items so they will keep each other cold. Naturally, unless you have a huge boat with a full fridge, pack your food in containers that will fit the size of the refrigerator or cooler you have on board.
Below are some storage time guidelines for food that is contained properly:
• Fresh chicken, turkey and ground meat or burgers - 1 to2 days
• Deli-sliced turkey and roast beef - 3 days
• Deli & foods, unopened lunch meats, steaks, chops, roasts and meat leftovers – 1 to 2 days
• Salads – 1-3 days
• Soups & stews - 2 to 3 days
• Hot dogs, opened – 3 to 4 days, if unopened – 1 week
• Bacon – 3-4 days
Unless you are on a fully equipped yacht I would not suggest freezing anything for too long a time in a small boats freezer.
When it comes to serving, avoid leaving perishable foods out for more than two hours. If it’s really hot outside one hour is safer. Put out only what you feel will be eaten within a reasonable amount of time and keep the remainder on ice. Keep any hot foods covered or stow on the side of your grill (if used) where you can keep them warm. Mayonnaise based salads should be in a serving dish or container that is placed in a bowl filled with ice. Cold cuts too can be placed on a plate with an ice pack on another plate underneath it.
Having enjoyed many meals aboard with my friends, I know that we aren’t all this vigilant and it’s rare that someone gets sick, so I would just take care to be mindful of what you are serving and how long it’s been sitting. From experience, there is nothing worse than being ill on a boat.
If underway, keep an eye out for those big waves that could send your food flying.
Let’s all enjoy a long, healthy, fun-filled season.