Guide to Food Storage at Sea – C

cabbage 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCabbage:  Cabbage is the mariner’s lettuce.   abhorred cabbage before I started sailing.  Well, I liked the pickled varieties, sauerkraut or kimchee, that is.  Still, coleslaw made my hair stand on end.  When I heard that cabbage was the cruiser’s lettuce I was not excited.  I think I would prefer a diet of hardtack to one of coleslaw.

But the more I experimented with cabbage, the more I liked it.  Far more than simply the coleslaw I knew as a child, I have come to see it as an under-appreciated and extremely versatile vegetable.  it is in some of my favorite Japanese dishes, featured widely in Korean cuisine, and many other dishes one wouldn’t necessarily think of it.

You can use it for salads, garnish, on sandwiches, or whatever you would use lettuce for.  I find it a poor substitute for lettuce in salads but it is good to have greens even in on a long passage.  And don’t limit yourself to using cabbage for lettuce… there are many creative things to be done with it.  For example, it can be fermented and made kimchee or sauerkraut.  Wrapped in newspaper and store in a cool place it can last for several months and refrigerated it can last up to 6-months.

Canned Butter: See Butter

Canned Fish: Though many people go into sailing with visions of catching fish every day it is good to carry some canned fish as well.  Mackerel, is wonderful over white rice.   Smoked oysters on crackers make a delicious afternoon snack.


canned tuna 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCanned Tuna: Wonderful cruising food and a great source of protein.  Store in any pantry and it will last for several years.





Canned Vegetables:  When the fresh vegetables are gone, sailors turn to frozen, and finally to canned vegetables.  They may not be as tasty or vitamin-rich as the fresh version, but canned vegetables can get you through a long passage.  Canned vegetables should last around 2-5 years until opened.  Never use a can that is bulging or looks like it has been tampered with.

carrots 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCarrots: Cut the tops off of carrots and keep them refrigerated in a ziplock bag.  Carrots become sweeter with cold storage but keep them away from apples because ethylene gas produced by apples (and many fruits) makes carrots taste bitter.  Carrots can be stored up to 6 months but I have never had luck over 2.



celery2 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCelery:  Celery isn’t the best cruising food if you don’t have refrigeration but can last up to several months refrigerated. Store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Left out can become limp and age rapidly.




cherimoya 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCherimoya /custard apple: A fruit to South and Central America with a green exterior and sweet creamy interior with black seeds.  Mark Twain lauded the cherimoya as “the most delicious fruit known to man,” and it is well worth picking up a few at the local market.  Store in fruit hammock out of the sun.  Cherimoyas have a shelf-life of around 2-weeks (though may last up to a month if refrigerated) and can be found at many local markets in South or Central America and occasionally in the Caribbean.

Cheese: The harder the cheese the longer the shelf life.  For cheddar and softer cheeses be sure to buy large blocks of cheese.  Smaller chunks and shredded mold faster.

*Buy vacuum-packed cheese if available.  The shelf-life of un-opened cheddar or Swiss have a shelf-life of up to 6 months and harder cheeses can last up to 9 months.  If cheese gets some mold on it simply pare it off and use the remaining cheese.

*If you can’t find vacuum-packed cheese then wrap blocks in vinegar-soaked cheesecloth


Chicken:  Because of the dangers of salmonella and diseases uncooked chicken can carry I prefer to use pre-cooked canned chicken chunks.  The cans can be kept on the shelf, open them up and they are ready to use.  Wonderful for stir-fries and any dish you would normally use chicken chunks in.  They can be found in grocery stores in the States, Australia, and many countries around the world.

* Buying a whole cooked chicken at the store before a long passage provides easy go-to meals for the first few days at sea.

 Chinese (Napa) Cabbage: Store in perforated plastic bag or in a cool area of the boat wrapped in newspaper.  Chinese cabbage can stored up to 3-months in optimal conditions though I have only had it last 1-month unrefrigerated.

Chocolate: Chocolate is a staple on any boat.  A wonderful morale booster and great for late-night watch snacks, a burst of energy, or just to keep something in your stomach.  I am a strong advocate of having a chocolate “stash” on board.  Baking chocolate isn’t a bad idea to have around either

Chocolate Passion Fruit Cake

Coconut Milk:  Cans of coconut milk are wonderful to have around for stir-fries, desserts, drinks, or just to add richness to powdered skim milk.

* Note: coconut milk is not simply the juice from coconuts so it isn’t bad to have a few cans on board even if you are headed to the tropics or somewhere with lots of coconuts

Cookies: Fresh cookies are always the best but it isn’t bad to carry a few packages of boxed cookies.  Even the most proficient baker can’t always be baking, especially in hot climates.

Sailor’s Snickerdoodles

corn ears 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCorn: Ears of corn are delicious, but I am also a fan of canned frozen and dried corn.  It is a vegetable (or grain) that translates well into any form.  Buy dehydrated corn if available because it cuts down on space, weight, and cost.  You can purchase dehydrated corn in some grocery stores and numerous websites online.


Corn meal is an interesting ingredient.  In America, almost every grocery store in North and South America carries it.  In parts of South America and the Caribbean you actually have to search for wheat flour (harina de trigo) because corn meal is the norm.  But in Australia it is extremely difficult to find.  I searched in grocery stores all along the Eastern Coast, from Brisbane to Darwin, and found one box of cornbread mix.

But be very careful.  Most grocery stores I stopped in did carry corn flour.  (which I mistakenly bought)  Corn flour is actually what is known in the United States as corn starch. So if you are sailing  to Australia and like corn bread try to bring a few bags of cornmeal along.

Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a fantastic thickener and after crewing on a Japanese boat I have really started to appreciate it.  You don’t have to cook sauces down for ages to thicken them.  But there is a trick to prevent corn starch from clumping (and sitting useless on the bottom of the pan.

  • 1 T to 1 c liquid
  • Called corn flour in Australia When cooking with it
  • first mix it carefully into a ladle-full of liquid to be sure that it doesn’t clump.

cous cous p 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   C

Cous Cous: Some of the best cruising pasta, it is one of the most versatile and underrated of all pasta.  Traditionally a North African dish, it can be served sweet as well as savory.  Takes almost no time to cook and extremely water efficient.  Store in plastic bug-proof container.




 Crackers:  It is good to have a few boxes of crackers around to snack on.  Confused seas can make a crew so ill that munching on crackers is the only way that they can keep anything down.  A more fun reason to keep a box in the pantry is that you can dress them up for appetizers at impromptu potlucks or dinner parties that always seem to happen when cruising.

On Course Cherry Blue Cheese Crackers

Cranberries: The longest-lasting of all the “berries,” fresh cranberries can last for months.  Though homemade cranberry jelly is delicious, I prefer my cruising cranberries dried or in juice form.  Some cruisers may have a lot of recipes for fresh cranberries, but I can’t justify storing a fruit with such limited uses.  I prefer to keep a box of dried cranberries around.  You can keep dried cranberries on the shelf in a plastic box for up to a year past their expiration date.

 Cream Cheese: Nice to have around for spreads, adding to dishes for a creamy flavor, or mixing with spices.

cucumber p 150x150 Guide to Food Storage at Sea   CCucumbers: Buy cellophane wrapped if possible.  Cucumbers have a shelf-life of around 2-weeks.  Do not refrigerate more than a few days.  Never freeze them or their texture and taste are changed.

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