The Chilly Box and Foodborne Illness

04/15/2011 at 3:42 pm 2 comments

My brand new ice box.

There are things I’ve taken for granted over the years living with electricity. Double pane windows, porch lights, hot water (that’s a big one), and refrigeration.

The last few months I’ve kept a cooler, without ice, on the porch for my perishable food items. I need milk in my coffee? I open the front door, open the cooler, get the milk, go back inside, pour, then reverse the process. Inevitably my socks get wet from walking outside without shoes while it’s been raining.

A few weeks ago, the temperatures hit 58 degrees and the funky smell coming from the porch made me realize it was time to upgrade the cooler. Spoiled food and food borne illness are no joke. Enter the Chilly Box, my new-to-me ice box found on Craigslist and brought home yesterday in the back of a pickup.

No electricity necessary.

Ice boxes were all the rage before electricity and the development of safe coolant technologies took over. Here’s Wikipedia’s description:

Commonly ice boxes were made of wood, most probably for ease of construction, insulation, and aesthetics: many were handsome pieces of furniture.

Ice boxes  had hollow walls that were lined with tin or zinc and packed with various insulating materials such as cork, sawdust, straw or seaweed. A large block of ice was held in a tray or compartment near the top of the box. Cold air circulated down and around storage compartments in the lower section. Some finer models had spigots for draining ice water from a catch pan or holding tank. In cheaper models a drip pan was placed under the box and had to be emptied at least daily. The user had to replenish the melted ice, normally by obtaining new ice from an ice man.

Out with the new, in with the old.

My ice box is metal, and the ice compartment is located on the left side, but it’s the same premise. I’ll be happily saying goodbye to wet socks and spoiled milk this weekend as I buy a ten-pound block of ice and a fridge thermometer.

Entry filed under: Food Preservation & Safety, Off the Grid.

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