Once again we've gathered our Yachting Monthly panel of experts to provide their top tips for boaters and sailors. This month, all about boating food.
When it comes to boating food what you are likely to eat, or plan on eating, will depend entirely on the sort of sailing or boating you are planning on doing. If you are spending a weekend onboard or out for the day, you can prepare something to assemble onboard or take fresh ingredients ready to whip up a delicious meal while you are onboard. The sort of boating food you will want to take if you are setting off on a 20-30 day ocean crossing, however, will be very different.
No matter how long you are going to be onboard, though, planning is essential. Unless you have a vast superyacht (and if you do, you probably leave the food prep to your hired help) then space for both storage and preparation will likely be limited. Planning and making the best use of what you have onboard are all essential skills, as is a solid understanding of what fresh food can best be stored at sea and for how long.
We’ve assembled Yachting Monthly’s panel of expert sailors to provide you with all their best tips and tricks when it comes to making delicious and easy boating food.
Cooking under pressure – Steve Harries
When my wife went shopping at a stop over in the Canary Islands and came back to the boat with a huge pot, I became agitated as my thoughts quickly turned towards storage.
However, this was no ordinary pot; this was a modern version of the pressure cooker my mum used in the 1970s, and any agitation was released with its steam on the first use.
A pressure cooker saves cooking gas by 25 to 50% and cooks food in a third of the time; it turns out the most tender meats, even when the meat is purchased from some backstreet butcher in the Caribbean or South Pacific.
The clamp-on lid won’t spill, even in the toughest of passages, and cooking hot, hearty meals for a large crew is a tropical breeze. \As for the storage issue, it’s worth the space it takes up since we use it almost every day.
Hob roast – Mary Endean
We have never owned a boat with an oven, and we don’t need one because we can bake or roast almost anything in a couple of closed pans.
One is a double skillet camping pan and the other a dry fry pan with an internal chimney, which funnels heat direct from the gas ring to the contents.
We use them for making breads, rolls, cakes, hot pots, chips (with hardly any oil or fat), roasting chicken and various puddings.
When baking, it is worth adding an insulating layer between contents and metal, to prevent burning.
The ‘Omnia Oven’, sold by many chandlers, works like the dry fry pan and includes a heat spreader to achieve a similar result.
To illustrate the method, here’s a recipe for producing two days’ supply of rolls, using both pans.
In the evening, add one teaspoon of sugar and one desert spoon of milk powder to 250ml of luke-warm water.
Stir to dissolve, and then add one teaspoon of dried yeast and stir in.
While the fermentation gets going, like the pans with crumbled aluminium foil and baking parchment.
Sieve 850ml of bread flour and one teaspoon of salt into a bowl and mix.
Add the yeast solution and one tablespoon of cooking oil to a well in the middle of the mix, then knead for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 16 portions and place eight in each pan. Cover and leave overnight.
Next morning, with luck, the rolls will have risen.
Cook for one minute on high, then turn to low, set a timer for 35 minutes and return to your bunk for another snooze.
When the timer rings the dry fry pan rolls will be cooked; give the other pan an extra five minutes.
Hey presto! Hot bread rolls for breakfast.
Perfect toast afloat – Theo Stocker
For those partial to a piece of toast and marmalade with their morning coffee, there’s nothing as galling as a limp slice of bread.
Having tried and failed to make decent toast on various hob-top wire contraptions, my wife suggested using the frying pan.
Once nice and hot, place the piece of bread in the pan, no oil required. Give it a few seconds then flip. The result is butter-meltingly hot, crispy toast.
You may have been doing this for years, but it was a eureka moment for me!
A good breakfast is key – Tony Curphey
I don’t claim to be a nutritional expert but for several years I’ve been making my own muesli from ingredients which can be bought in bulk, usually in thick plastic bags which are easy to store.
This was particularly useful on my last voyage, a non-stop circumnavigation when I was at sea for 308 days.
I almost ran out of water but never out of food.
The muesli may be a little bland for some, but I have a sweet tooth and this was catered for with dried fruit and goji berries. Add to taste.
Use it as a normal cereal with milk or eat it dry as a snack, especially when you may not feel like cooking.
Following are the ingredients. I make a mix of 3.5kg which lasts about a month.
Porridge oats (15%), nuts including walnuts, brazils, hazelnuts, almonds and cashews (23%), pumpkin seeds (8%), sunflower seeds (8%), dried fruit including raisins, sultanas and currants (14%), dates (5%), goji berries (5%), linseed which has been ground as flax (15%) and ground chia and sesame seeds (7%).
Safe consumption of hot liquids – Theo Stocker
Something as trivial as drinking tea shouldn’t need to be taught, but the dangers of hot liquid on a boat at sea are well known.
In any kind of seaway, hot tea, even when served in a mug with a lid, has the annoying habit of surging with each roll of the boat.
If a roll coincides with the moment you are about to take a sip, the result is at best a wet jumper, or at worst, a badly scalded mouth.
To help minimise this risk, drink facing fore and aft, or if pitching heavily, facing in the direction of least movement.
The tea may still slosh from side to side, but you’re less likely to pour hot liquid down yourself.
A strong drop to dispatch your fish – Steve Harries
We caught our first tuna in the Atlantic. By the time it was dispatched our cockpit looked like a massacre had taken place.
The fish thumped like a drum on the cockpit floor sending splatters of blood over every surface and all over the crew.
Onlooking crew rushing in to help, were slipping in the slick blood and adding to the mess.
The only thing that superseded the madness was the clean up.
These days we dispatch our fish by pouring a little strong alcohol into its mouth or into its gills.
The result is that the fish stops moving instantly
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