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Old 10-31-2019, 09:53 AM   #1
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Is it Bad?!

Hi there...

For the last 5 days PG&E has shut off power to nearly 1 million homes and businesses in Northern/Central California to "keep us safe". This means my fridge has been:

on for 4 hours,
off for one hour,
on for 5 hours,
off for 14 hours,

each of the 5 days.

I normally keep the freezer at 0°F, and the fridge at 38°F, but in the morning the fridge was more like mid to high 40's, and the freezer middle 30's (fruit definitely got a little soft, but ice was not melted but did have that moist outer layer). So my question is what should I throw out?

Freezer Contents: berries, pineapple, bananas, breads, hash browns, butter (salted and unsalted).

Fridge Contents: eggs, milk, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, luncheon meat, mayo, salad dressings, mustards, jarred marinara & salsa, and some bottled sauces (chipoltle, worcestershire, soy, etc).

I am usually pretty conservative with expiration dates so my thought was to chuck it all, but I'm pretty sure the butter is alright, and there is a lot of frozen fruit. Not sure about the cream cheese (it is still factory sealed), luncheon meat, mayo, eggs, milk, etc.

What say you all?
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Old 10-31-2019, 09:59 AM   #2
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Unless you were opening the fridge/freezer a lot or leaving it open for long times, everything is more than likely fine. We've had power out for a couple of days due to hurricanes over the years and things have always stayed cold.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by medtran49 View Post
Unless you were opening the fridge/freezer a lot or leaving it open for long times, everything is more than likely fine.
Never opened unless the generator was on.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:09 AM   #4
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Don't go by what I say, but the only thing on your lists that I might throw out is the mayo.

Sorry about your problems.

An expatriated Californian.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
Never opened unless the generator was on.
Hi Scott. Sorry you have this to deal with. What we see of the fires on TV is really scary.

One thing I don't understand. Couldn't you just run your generator longer to keep the fridge/freezer colder?
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:47 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by skilletlicker View Post
Don't go by what I say, but the only thing on your lists that I might throw out is the mayo.

Sorry about your problems.

An expatriated Californian.
Unless it's homemade, the mayo will be fine. Manufacturers use pasteurized eggs and mayo contains salt and vinegar, as well as other preservatives. Problems with mayo are generally from using homemade made with raw eggs.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:57 AM   #7
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After my reply, but too late to edit, I realized the original post says the fridge might have been in the 40s to upper 40s for some hours five days in a row. A more serious matter than the way I misread it the first time.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:23 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
One thing I don't understand. Couldn't you just run your generator longer to keep the fridge/freezer colder?
Hi Andy...

The generator is quite loud, so I won't start it before 8am. Leaving it running all night is obviously not an option either. With the exception of the frozen fruit, cream cheese, and pepper sauces, quantities and cost of food is low (by as much design as possible).

Quote:
Originally Posted by skilletlicker View Post
I realized the original post says the fridge might have been in the 40s to upper 40s for some hours five days in a row. A more serious matter than the way I misread it the first time.
Yeah... that is my main concern too... the up and down over 5 days. Shame about the cream cheese and all the frozen fruit but I think I'm gonna toss most everything except for the things I am most confident of (pepper sauces, ketchup, mustard, etc.).
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
Hi Andy...

The generator is quite loud, so I won't start it before 8am. Leaving it running all night is obviously not an option either.
I have medications that have to be refrigerated, so when we lose power, the generator stays on till we have it back. It's considerate of you to turn it off, but for me, that would defeat the purpose of having it.

Quote:
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With the exception of the frozen fruit, cream cheese, and pepper sauces, quantities and cost of food is low (by as much design as possible).
Thawed frozen, refrozen fruit will be fine. It won't go bad that quickly. You can use it to make jam, compote, chutney, smoothies or fruit filling for cookies, cakes and pies.
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Old 10-31-2019, 03:28 PM   #10
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Thanks guys... I ended up pitching everything except the vodka, butter, and non-dairy condiments. The bananas (which I froze only a couple of weeks ago) looked nasty, and the berries and pineapple were little more than balls of ice.

Sad as it is, it wasn't that much... and I'll hit up the local Safeway tomorrow in the hopes that they actually have food to sell. They, like one of the local gas station/market/SubWay are fully backed up by generators (unlike ComCast apparently), which I truly appreciate.

BTW, that SubWay "good as Texas BBQ" brisket is a joke, much like the rest of their menu.

So the driveway has been cleared, the generator brought in, the garbage out, the battery backed up devices charged, clothes in the washer, my servers and smart home back online, and a clean freshly showered me (now that we have hot water), I will soon sit down and enjoy some ice that is left, along with some WhistlePig 10 year old straight rye, Carpano Antica, and Tillen Farms "Merry" maraschino cherries while I tune into today's golf.

Cheers,

-SiP
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Old 11-01-2019, 02:42 AM   #11
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Hi Scott! I'm sorry it was such dire circumstances that brought you to DC, but now that your crisis is, hopefully, over, stick around and lets get to know you better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
...With the exception of the frozen fruit, cream cheese, and pepper sauces, quantities and cost of food is low (by as much design as possible).



Yeah... that is my main concern too... the up and down over 5 days. Shame about the cream cheese and all the frozen fruit but I think I'm gonna toss most everything except for the things I am most confident of (pepper sauces, ketchup, mustard, etc.).
It sounds like you have a sparsely stocked freezer. I'm cleaning mine out right now, and have just a little less than half a freezer worth of consumables. I fill the empty spaces with water-filled plastic juice bottles (you know, the "new half gallon" 59, or 52, ounce bottles). That way if the power goes out, the freezer stays very cold for days. We were without power for about 63 hours straight October of 2011. I moved the very perishables from the refrigerator to a cooler with one bottle and kept things safe until they were gone - only two days. The freezer stayed cold enough that the only things that ended up defrosting to the danger point was ice cream, bread, and hot dogs. We cooked the hot dogs right away, used most of the bread before it got dry/moldy. Everything else, though, was still pretty frozen.

Considering the circumstances, I think you made a perfect choice for dinner.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:13 PM   #12
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So far we've been lucky there have been no power outage where we live in Central California, but in other times when there has been a power outage, that generator runs. When the temperatures in those "cold" appliances starts to rise, the generator starts noise and all.
I agree with GotGarlic, not running the generator to keep things cold defeats purpose of having the generator. When it's not running here, it gets hauled over to the neighbor's house to run her refrigerator and freezer for a few hours too.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:34 PM   #13
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Your frozen foods should have been okay. Refrigerated foods are hit and miss. Foods with vinegar or other preserving ingredients should be okay. Stuff like mayo are more likely to go bad.

Like CG said, fill empty spaces in your freezer with frozen bottles of water. A full freezer will stay colder for much longer than one that is half full -- thermal mass.

My parents live in hurricane country, so they deall with this from time-to-time. They have a generator.

CD
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Old 11-02-2019, 02:35 PM   #14
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Your frozen foods should have been okay. Refrigerated foods are hit and miss. Foods with vinegar or other preserving ingredients should be okay. Stuff like mayo are more likely to go bad.
Mayo does not go bad as quickly as people think. As I said above, it's a problem with homemade mayo made with raw eggs, but not grocery-store mayo made with pasteurized eggs. My uncle sailed around the world for seven years without refrigeration and mayo never went bad on his boat.
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Old 11-02-2019, 07:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Mayo does not go bad as quickly as people think. As I said above, it's a problem with homemade mayo made with raw eggs, but not grocery-store mayo made with pasteurized eggs. My uncle sailed around the world for seven years without refrigeration and mayo never went bad on his boat.
When I was a kid, in SoCal, with no air conditioning, my mum never put the Best Foods mayo in the fridge and it never went off.

People often blame the mayo when a potato salad goes off, but it's more likely to be the potatoes or any added eggs. I remember reading that the vinegar in the store bought mayo had probably actually kept the potato salad from going off sooner.
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