One of the challenges of an extended stay in the bush during the warm (no snow or ice) seasons is planning meals that don’t require refrigeration. Of course, there is always the option of storing food in a cooler with store-bought ice, but this is a hassle as well as being expensive. There is also the option of building a variety of camp refrigerators such as swamp coolers, spring boxes and evaporative coolers. These work well but are not a replacement for an electric refrigerator because they don’t keep things cool enough to stop meats or milk from spoiling. They’re great for things like butter or vegetables and I’ve built and used them many times.
But as a culture, and maybe as a species, we usually choose the hard way of changing our situation rather than changing our mind and habits. By this I mean instead of trying to find a way to live in camp as if we had a big refrigerator, it’s just easier to eliminate, or greatly reduce, the foods that require refrigeration. But we resist doing so because of the inertia of our thinking.
Many modern outdoor cookbooks are complicit in that they call for ingredients that aren’t easily kept for weeks at a time with no refrigeration. But a look at the historical literature on trappers and other wilderness travelers shows that a few simple foods made up their diet, even if they were headed out for a year or more.
Our diet in camp is based on simple foods. We eat a lot of grains, beans and lentils, and a fair amount of canned and dried food. None of these require refrigeration. Neither do canned (home made or store bought) foods such as meats and fish. To this add homegrown sprouts, nuts, seeds, homemade sourdough bread (made many different ways), fruits, vegetables, and wild foods you’ve harvested and you’ve got a well-rounded diet, whether in the bush or not.
If you want to learn to make fresh-baked sourdough goods that call for no perishable ingredients (ie. they don’t require refrigeration and will keep for years), check out our Simple Little Sourdough And Outdoor Baking Book.