We Make Do Without A Refrigerator

One homesteading couple learned to survive without a fridge and urge you to do the same.

| July/August 1976

  • fridge
    The refrigerator is a thing of the past for one homesteading couple.

  • fridge

If the Joenses can do it in south-central Texas... you should be able to do it no matter where you live!

About a year ago, we cranked our courage up and took a big step in the direction of self-sufficiency: we began to live without any refrigeration.

Since our somewhat remote home has no electricity, we'd been relying on two butane-powered fridges to keep our perishables cold. We'd also been watching in quiet desperation as butane prices soared out of sight. (It got to be downright maddening after a while.) Finally, when our gas bill went from astronomical to absurd, we just said, "That's it. No more refrigeration for us."

For the next week—as a steadily growing lump formed in our collective throat—we waited for the butane to run out. I guess, to be honest about it, we sorta hoped that final bottle of fuel would last forever . . . because when it was finally empty and the coolers' flames went out, we immediately panicked. Or to put it another way, our position was the classic one in which necessity suddenly becomes the mother of invention.

Then again, we didn't actually invent anything in the weeks that followed. We did, however, discover a few of the wholesome changes in one's lifestyle that can occur in the course of learning to live without refrigeration. And we found that the changeover to a freezerless existence was not as hard to make as we had imagined.

As we prepared for the switch, we asked some older friends how they'd gotten by without refrigerators years ago, BE (before electricity). Their answers usually involved putting milk and butter in a cistern, or storing perishables in a screened-in enclosure covered with a damp cloth (evaporation from the cloth would keep the box's contents somewhat cool).

12/1/2017 8:44:50 AM

I've never had refrigeration and am 55 years old. I am an ovovegitarian however so it's been easy. I also live alone so I only cook what I'll be eating that day.

9/19/2008 1:17:56 PM

Visiting Granny's farm was an eye-opener. She didn't use a refrigerator, either. It had only been a few years since she got running water to the kitchen, when we visited there in the mid-1970's. She had cooked up a mess of food, and it was displayed on the kitchen table for all to come get what they wanted, buffet style. After, she simply covered it with clean towels to keep flies off it, and little fingers out of it. It was understood that people could help themselves to more of whatever was leftover, during that hot afternoon. The food was largely gone by the time we left a few hours later, extras packed up to send home with visitors to munch on their trips. Her kitchen porch was facing north, so storing fresh food was always some cooler.

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