Monday, April 4, 2011

A Produce Frenzy

I had a much more productive day today than yesterday, after finishing up our laundry, our Emergency Procedures review, a trip to the farmer's market, and some great calls to family.  We made it to the Puddle Jumpers' meeting and shared good information on weather (how to get it, how to read it), routing (places not to miss, where to spend the cyclone season, where to make landfall), Single Sideband Radio Nets (which help you get the weather and keep in touch with everyone else who's out there doing the 'Jump'), and the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) which was perhaps the scariest topic for us all.  You'll be hearing more about the ITCZ as we go, I'm sure, and you can read more about it here, but it's essentially the band of wacky and unpredictable weather on either side of the equator due to the fact that the currents and winds on either side of the equator run in opposite directions.  The aim of anyone heading to the South Pacific is to cross the equator at the narrowest part of that band so that the unpredictability of the weather is experienced for as short a time as possible.  The tricky part is that the narrowest section is constantly changing. More on this later.

At 6 p.m. Diane (s/v Ceilydh) and I headed over to the produce warehouse in La Cruz which provides produce to all the local tiendas.  The proprietor heads to Guadelajara on Thursdays and Sundays to get very fresh produce, and makes it available to the public as well.  The tricky thing here is that there are about 10 boats jumping the puddle this week, which means a lot of cruisers sifting through the produce for the best stuff.  Diane and I wanted to get there as early as possible.  It worked out well.  We both managed to get great looking produce for ridiculously low prices.  This batch here, which should last us 3-4 weeks, cost a total of 1400 pesos, which is just over US$100.

The process took us about 2 hours total.  The time was needed to painstakingly pick out each piece of produce so that it would last.  No bruises whatsoever. Firm.  At various stages of ripeness. I had spent a lot time researching what lasts for how long, how to choose each piece and how to store it so that we'd get the longest time out of it.  I have very limited refrigeration space so much of the produce will be stowed outside the fridge, but it must be a dark, cool and well-ventilated area. I'm thinking 'cool' is a relative term.

Oranges and cabbages were soaked first in a mild bleach solution and let to dry completely before stowing.  All produce must be completely dry before stowing out of the refrigerator. Onions and potatoes are never to be stored together.  Citrus should be wrapped in tinfoil and not stored with anything else, and even at that, not even remotely close to anything else.  Apples, pears, tomatoes, mangoes should be wrapped in paper towels or tissues.  Everything has to be stored without movement so that nothing bruises.  Everything has to be checked regularly for bruising or it can ruin an entire batch of produce.  Long life 'GreenBags', available only in the US and Canada, are used wherever possible, both in and out of the refrigerator.

The best part of this two hour exercise was our friends' involvement.  Anne from s/v Taking Flight had loaned us her cart to help shlep it all back, and she spent the entire 2 hours helping us pick out 3 dozen fat carrots, 4 dozen firm purple and white onions, 3 dozen smooth potatoes, 1 dozen large jicama, 2 dozen firm oranges, 3 dozen green limes, and the list goes on. Then, just as we were bringing our produce to be weighed after the selection process, several of our friends showed up to help us carry it all out.  I was so touched and grateful that I nearly cried.  Thank you Anne, Tami (s/v Andiamo), Nick and Andrea (s/v Safety Cat).  It was totally unexpected and so appreciated.  It took 6 of us to carry it all back to the boat.

Produce for s/v Ceilydh and s/v Whatcha Gonna Do - and a lot of great friends

Tami hung around and helped us prepare the produce for stowage, including wrapping all citrus in tin foil, and all tomatoes, apples and mangoes in paper towels.  Everything is stowed away in vegetable bins that we got for free from the produce warehouse.  They are stacked up under our salon table, in the cockpit and in the starboard cabin.  I'll be checking all of it every few days.

Believe me, I've learned more about picking produce and stowing it for long keeping than anyone should have to know in their lifetime.

Tomorrow I'll head to Mega (chain grocery store) to pick up my dairy, 10 dozen eggs, and breads.  After that, we have only very minor details to take care of.  Whew.... almost done.

-Barb in La Cruz


  1. This is so exciting. I love reading about all of the preparation details. What an amazing group of friends you have there!

  2. And here I thought you were getting out of making Pesach!!

  3. You seem to be consumed with all this food shopping, or is it consuming you? Nevertheless, I understand your need to do such meticulous planning. I am convinced that you will not go hungry on this trip...