Greetings. If you have a chance, check out my article at http://usmerchantmariner.com/galley-prep-for-a-first-time-cook/. I welcome your feedback. Thanks!
Here’s my newest article on cleanliness in the galley! http://usmerchantmariner.com/363-2/
New article is up part 1 of 3
How to Take Care of Food: Dry, Canned and Baked Goods – USMerchantMariner.com
Nice little writeup but this will be a hard sell on any of the vessels I have worked on I am well aware how the sell by date is supposed to work but most people have know idea I’ve seen pantries cleaned out and cooks written up by office personnel for out of date supplies.
What about “sell by”, or “best if used by” dates. Don’t worry. These dates only refer to a guarantee of quality and taste, not edibility. I have opened cans that were perfectly fine 6 months past the “best by” date. However, I once opened a can of evaporated milk that came out solid and instinctively threw it away. If the can is rusty or otherwise damaged, get rid of it. With proper stock rotation, this shouldn’t be an issue
Thanks for your feedback. I believe if a cook or steward department is paying attention and rotating the stores regularly, this usually won’t be an issue. I thought it might help someone, maybe new to a boat, who gets on board and has to deal with this.
The biggest help would be figuring out how to get them to rotate stock. It’s been an ongoing problem everywhere i’ve been it’s always a rush getting supplies onboard.
On one Tug we had several large Freezers. One night I find the 6-12 AB working in the Galley around 2200. He had frozen meat all over the place with a large pile on the deck. So, I asked what the hell he was doing with all of the meet laying on the deck. He said, I’m tossing it over the side. When I asked why he said they’ve all had their birthday!
To say I was more than a little shocked would be an understatement as when I looked not only were some of the dates a year old, some were several years old. I told him to go up and have the Captain come down to see this before he tossed it.
The Captain was pissed at the Cook who was not the best but not the worse out there. Trying to calm the Old Man down before he tossed the Cook over the side, I told him, look I blame this Cook as much as you do but we’ve had 3 other cooks on our crew and the Opposite Crew had had 2 different Cooks during this period. So, you can’t put it all on the guy.
He calmed down a little and let me talk to the Cook. I tried to use it as a learning experience and told him to make sure to ROTATE the stores rather than just putting the new in front of the old. The Captain did have a rather heated discussion with his opposite Captain as they had a more permanent cook than we did during this period.
From that day forward, whenever I went on a different boat, I always did a spot check on the freezers. I wish I could say I was please not to find old goods but I found a bunch each time I looked.
The problem is no one wants to make a career out of being a Tug Cook and most companies don’t ever carry cooks anymore. So, what you get is some green kid that only wants to be in the galley long enough to make the move up to AB. So, with this the quality of cooks really sucks for the most part.
@CookingatSea, thanks again for doing this and I hope that your book is a hit!
On a just slightly related subject; I rarely got involved with the stewards department and their ordering of consumable stores until we changed ordering systems. The steward asked me to enter all the items he had marked on printed sheets. As I was going down the list I noted several cases of Easy-Off Oven cleaner being requested. It just so happened I had been in the stores area for some reason or another and could have sworn I saw some there. I went down to double check and found 6 or 8 cases there, some so old the caustic was beginning to bleed through the cans onto the shelving.
The point being, know what you have so you know what you need. Don’t assume.
Edit: The above point is applicable to all departments.
So Important! Great post!
Thanks! Great post
New article is up. This is part 2 of 3-
Here is Part 3 (In its entirety) of how to take care of food. The website creator is now at sea so the website is on hold for awhile.
How to Take Care of Food or The Care and Feeding of your Crew
by Eric Mahoney- Cooking at Sea
In the 3rd and final part of this series on food care, I will be discussing dairy products and pre frozen items.
When buying milk in large quantities, it is normally purchased in gallon jugs or half gallon cartons. I personally preferred the half gallon cartons for several reasons; they store better in the refrigerator, the shelf life is often much longer, and if freezing is required, there is a chance the gallon jugs will split.
My trips were short enough that usually what I kept in the refrigerator was enough to not need to long term store milk. However on the few occasions that I did, I didn’t freeze it. Instead I purchased box milk. The shelf life on boxed milk is much longer than refrigerated milk. It is also more expensive.
I’ve always been careful not to let milk sit out too long. What I have read says it will spoil after about 2 hours of being left out. If you notice you are coming close to running out of milk, sit the last half gallon aside for cooking. You will need it. I have recently begun baking with soymilk because my grandson can’t drink regular milk. No one seems to be able to tell the difference.
Eggs aren’t a dairy product, but they are sold in the dairy sections. Eggs keep longer if left in the containers they are purchased in. I have read that eggs will keep anywhere from 3 weeks to 66 days from the time they are packaged. Eggs don’t freeze well in the shell. They can be broken into a container, beaten, and frozen. I have never tried that. You can also buy liquid egg substitute that will keep for up to a year in the freezer.
Other dairy products
The only dairy product I have frozen and kept for long periods of time was butter. I have never had any differences in texture or taste when freezing butter. Although cheese and milk can be frozen, sometimes it changes the texture or the taste. Most dairy products will keep for a couple of weeks if stored properly. Depending on the type of cheese, your cheese may last a couple months in
the refrigerator. Usually grocery stores put the closest expiration dated items towards the front so pull from the back.
Non dairy products found in the dairy section
In addition to eggs I have found several other items in the dairy section that aren’t dairy; pie crusts, the rolls of cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, and dinner rolls that just pop open, then bake and serve. Sometimes things like tortellini and hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni, and Canadian bacon are also found in this aisle. You will also find cartons of the fresh squeezed orange juice in the dairy section.
Pre Frozen Items
The frozen section has a lot of junk in it that I can’t recommend for someone who should be actually cooking meals. I’m talking about ready made meals like frozen lasagna and frozen french fries. Some of this might be okay for days you are working on deck and have not time, but it’s generally frowned upon.
Some items you should purchase in the frozen section might be frozen juice, chicken breasts (boneless/skinless), whole turkeys, shrimp, fish, vegetables, and possibly ice cream. I saw a study recently from Great Britain that clamed some frozen fruits and vegetable may even have a higher nutritional value than fresh produce because it’s frozen usually right after it’s picked. The study was funded by frozen food companies so take it or leave it.
I had some good success using frozen fruits and vegetables. I used frozen peas and carrots, stir fry vegetables, spinach, and others for a lot of cooking I would do. Maybe not as good as fresh but almost without exception better taste than canned, in my opinion. I also used frozen fruits in shakes, smoothies, and certain pies.
I would always wait until all the other shopping was done to grab the frozen items Get them packed into boxes together. This way they stayed colder longer and I could make the 20-30 minute drive back to the boat without having the ice cream melt.
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