Folks on my Facebook page are suffering from nostalgia. Of late, I’ve seen lots of pictures of obsolete items that probably belong in a history museum, like the foot treadle for a non-electric sewing machine. The quaintness of these objects fills me with pleasant memories and makes me smile. “Days that are gone and will never come again,” I sigh, though I admit I won’t ever miss the washboard.
Of course, the past has an uncomfortable way of creeping up on us and becoming current again. If we humans don’t stop consuming the planet’s resources at an alarming rate, one day electrical energy could become so scarce that an old fashioned foot treadle sewing machine could become fashionable again. Ditto that dreaded washboard. Knowing how to darn a sock instead sending the old ones to a landfill might come in handy, too. So would knowing how to preserve seeds from the garden for next year’s crop.
Yesterday I read an article about an old fashioned skill that still might have its uses today: how to refrigerate without electricity or ice. In Nigeria, a country where 90 percent of the villages are without electrical energy, the technique is common. Tomatoes, I read, will survive without spoilage for up to 21 days — a record superior to those left in my refrigerator. What’s more the necessary tools are readily available. So, if your freezer goes on the blink or there’s a prolonged power outage, here’s how to save your produce:
In a well ventilated dry area, place a small clay pot inside a larger clay pot. Fill the space in between them with wet sand and keep it moist. Cover the top with a cloth. Store produce in the inner pot. As the water evaporates, it pulls heat out with it, making the inside pot cold. (“What Your Grandparents Knew,” Yes, Fall, 2012, pg. 33)
Do you remember what the energy saver below was for?
(Courtesy of http://www.kitchenworksinc.com