What is old is new again, claypot refrigeration

While traveling from Cap Haitian to Borgne, we were talking about how the roads were more pothole than pavement. One of my colleagues brought up how the lack of infrastructure affected local economy and food security. Farmers could grow their crops, but often their produce would rot before getting to market.

Upon returning Stateside, I read about how communities in Africa were using claypot refrigeration to prolong the life of food in resource limited environments.

Enter the Zeer Pot!

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The Zeer pot is a pretty simple but efficient tool that can be used anywhere it is warm. It takes advantage of the cooling properties of condensation. Essentially it is two pots with clay sand between them. The evaporation that builds up on the outer pot cools the inner pot. The inner pot is where you store your perishables to keep them from spoiling.

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How to make a Zeer pot:

Where it works best:
Hot and relatively dry places (humidity decreases condensation)
Ideally should have good air movement to promote cooling/condensation

Supplies:
1 Large clay pot- porous
2 Smaller clay pot- can be non porous to prevent water from leaking in.
Sand or Loose Dirt
Wet Cloth

1. Fill a layer of sand over the bottom of the large pot until you can easily rest the inner container towards the top of the pot.
2. Then fill sand in between the two pots.
3. Pour water into the sand filling
4. Place perishables in inner pot and cover with wet cloth

Note: You can fill the space with non-drinkable water but make sure to wash perishables before consuming.

Other benefits besides increasing shelf life of food (which is huge both for eating or selling as a cash crop).
1. The building of these pots can stimulate the economy- i.e. woman’s collective making and selling pots to local farmers.
2. Improved diet/nutrition
3. Can be used to store meds that need to be refrigerated
4. Decrease use of generators/electricity for modern refrigerators.