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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.consumers.frugal-living,
Subject: Re: Do you reuse marinade?
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2005 14:14:51 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On 15 Nov 2005 14:16:18 -0800, "James" <> wrote:

>The instructions say do not reuse used marinade.  Why not?
>Can't I marinade one piece of meat at a time instead of using lots of
>marinade on several pieces?

It's one of those safety nazi things.  You can reuse the marinade as
long as it retains its taste as long as you treat it as a potentially
hazardous material (what the government types call any food that will
host toxic bacteria).  In other words, just like the meat.

I have periodic shish-ke-bob special nights in my restaurant.  I use
several gallons of marinade.  I'm not about to throw that away after
one use.  The whole marinade process is done at 36 degrees.  I freeze
the used marinade between uses, allowing it to thaw in a 36 deg
refrigerator for a day before the next use.  I usually end up tossing
the remnants when there is no longer enough to cover the ingredients.
I'd rather make a new batch than add to the old one.

Keeping the marinade acidic (vinegar or Vit C) is a method of greatly
extending the life because acid suppresses spoilage bacteria.

The big thing to watch for at home is the refrigerator temperature.
Domestic refrigerators are notorious for non-uniform and generally too
high temperature.  Mine will freeze veggies on the top shelf while
leaving the bottom ones (farthermost from the cooling coils) in the
mid-40s.  Commercial fridges are vastly better in this regard.

Recent research has shown that shelf life almost doubles between 40
and 36 degrees.  34 is even better if the fridge will do that without
freezing.  Bacteria action essentially stops down in that range.  I
routinely keep milk for >3 weeks in my 34 degree cooler.  Meat keeps
pretty much indefinitely.

The FDA recently lowered the maximum permissible cooler temperature
for commercial establishments from 45 to 40 and most state health
departments have followed suit.  This is good, in that it provides a
bit more safety margin for even sloppy operators.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: KAW Refrigerator readings
Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2007 17:17:56 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sun, 5 Aug 2007 15:26:23 -0400, "Jim" <jim@home.con> wrote:

>    Thanks John. I'm trying to get the upper and lower temps where I want
>them. Turns out I had the freezer at about -5*, and the fridge at 35. I'm
>struggling to adjust it properly, but it's 96 here today, and the kids are
>in the fridge every 10 minutes!

You're welcome.  I've done a lot of experimental work regarding extending the shelf
life of foods.  My goal was to be able to buy in large bulk and be able to store it
long enough to use it in my restaurant.

Two major findings that I based my restaurant on and now base my house on.  One, food
lasts MANY times longer if the refrigerated space is held as close to 32 as possible
without freezing.  I actually keep mine set at 32 deg average (probe in a small
container of water as thermal mass, sitting on the center shelf.)  Freeze-damaged
stuff is kept on the top shelves and freeze-tolerant stuff like meat goes on the
bottom.  Meat comes out semi-frozen - crystals of ice in the tissue but still not
solid frozen.

Similarly, keeping the freezer at -10 or below greatly reduces the rate of freezer
burn.  I kept my walk-in at -20.  The lowest my domestic unit will go on the
thermostat is -18.  My chest freezer will go to -25, which is where I operate it.

BTW, the energy consumption number I quoted on the Sears over/under was with it
operating at those temperatures.

Some examples of the current contents.  A 10 lb chub of ground beef has been there 3
weeks and is still like-packed.  A bell pepper with a section cut out has been in a
zip-lock bag for over 3 weeks.  An un-opened container of milk is 4 weeks old and
will be fine when opened.  The one I opened this morning for breakfast was purchased
at the same time.  Tomatoes from the neighbor's vines are almost 6 weeks old.  The
last of the dozen eggs are 6 weeks old.  I routinely age whole ribeyes on the top
shelf for from 6 weeks to two months.  Even the head of lettuce is over 2 weeks old
and is still fresh as the day I got it.

It's vital that I achieve this kind of shelf life, as I live way back in the
mountains, about 30 miles of winding roads from the nearest store.  I only go out
once a month.  I like to cook and to use fresh ingredients so I have to be able to
store fresh things for a month at a time.

>    I did find that my little 2cu/ft dorm style fridge uses 1/3 the energy
>of my 20cu/ft! It stays with the house when I move....

Yup.  I have an office fridge, like a dorm room unit but about thigh-high.  It's a
pig too.  I use it in my concession stand where energy efficiency doesn't matter so

I was looking over my database of energy consumption and noticed something
interesting.  I had a 60s vintage Coke vending machine.  The type where you reached
in and withdrew a bottle through a gate.  This thing only used 2.59kwh, averaged over
about a month.  That machine was notable too for its almost silent compressor.

I've just procured another medium size chest freezer that I'm converting to
refrigerator service.  Higher temperature thermostat and racks to keep the food off
the bottom where condensate will collect are the major mods.  Based on past
experience, I expect this unit to consume well below 1KWh per day.  I should be able
to start using it next week.  I'll want to log consumption data for at least a month.
I'll report back.

One other interesting note.  I have a new (purchased last year) 40 pt GE dehumidifier
in my basement.  Between November of last year and April of this year its energy
consumption averaged 2.03KWh per day - about like my fridge.  I'll read the meter
again in November, both to get an annual average and to see how it performs through
the wet months.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Question on Power Consumption limiting (A/C, ovens etc.)
Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2007 06:16:38 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 22 Nov 2007 02:35:01 -0800 (PST), drydem <> wrote:

>> That's considerably warmer than is usually recommended for freezers. To
>> keep food properly frozen, the temperature should be no higher than
>> about -18C (0F). That's the temperature at which saturated brine
>> freezes. If the temperature is higher than that, then salty water will
>> remain partly liquid, permitting some bacterial action to continue.
>>                            dow
>Thanks for the food safety tip. I will lower the temperature setting
>on my freezer now.

I'll echo that recommendation.  The colder the better.  In my years in the restaurant
business, I experimented quite a bit with freezer operation.  I had major incentives.
The walk-in cost >$200/month to operate.  It contained between $5 and $10k worth of
food, depending on my meat inventory.  I usually bought a month's worth of pork at a
time for volume discount purposes and so it was essential that it be preserved in the
freezer over a fairly long time.

What I found was that the colder I kept the food, the longer it lasted, the less it
got freezer burned and the better it looked after thawing.  As a compromise between
cost of operation and food preservation, I settled on -20 deg F as my operating
point.  Food that I prepared in bulk for personal use stayed in there as long as a
year and came out just like it went in.

Frost-free domestic freezers, at least the ones that I've looked at, are worse for
freezer burn than commercial units because the humidity is so much lower.  That's a
byproduct of small evaporators operated at very low temperatures.  I installed an
oversized evaporator in my walk-in and employed a suction line back-pressure
regulating valve to prevent the evaporator from going below about -25 deg F.  This
maintained a reasonably high RH that greatly slowed moisture loss through
sublimation, the root cause of freezer burn.

A freezer of modern manufacture uses so little power (my reefer has a measured power
consumption of about $36/year) that there is little to gain by maintaining a warm
cabinet.  I run my freezer as cold as it will go, about -15 deg F, and keep the
refrigerator right at 30-32 degrees.  Going to 30-32 from 40 over doubles the life of
milk.  Egg and bread life becomes almost infinite.  Even leaf veggies like lettuce
and collards keep for several weeks.  They don't freeze as long as the temperature
doesn't go below 30.


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