What do you do when it's really muggy?
Updated: Aug 16, 2021
Once upon a time, Crown Pilot Crackers were a staple in most homes along the coast in Maine. Not only were the unsalted crackers good in soups, chowders, and stuffed seafood recipes, but they were considered to be a great remedy for sea-sickness on rough seas. The recipe for Crown Pilot cracker is Nabisco’s oldest recipe and was similar to a hardtack cracker, which made them a great snack on fishing vessels due to their longevity and low cost. Pilot Crackers, like hardtack were made with a rolled dough that was baked for a very long time in order to remove all of the moisture, making them a hearty snack for hungry fishermen on a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Maine. The difference between the two is that Pilot crackers contain baking soda, which makes them just a bit more palatable. Fishermen packed Pilot Crackers and tinned seafood in their lunch boxes knowing they were both un-spoilable, filling, and could be eaten on the fly.
Chips, crackers, bread, and cookies have a shortened shelf-life on fishing vessels because of the amount of moisture in the air out on the ocean. This increased humidity is something that coastal-dwelling people have to contend with in their daily lives.
Seawater is constantly evaporating and even being in close proximity to the water (e.g.,living on the coast) causes humidity to be higher. This is exacerbated even further when temperatures rise in the warmer months because the ability for air to hold water in the form of water vapor increases with temperature.
So, when it’s hot, muggy, and drizzly, you’ve probably noticed that keeping enclosed areas humidity-free to prevent your Humpty Dumpty BBQ potato chips from going stale is like an Olympic sport.
Here are some tricks that have been learned by coastal residents and fishermen over the years:
Put rice in your salt.
Get a dehumidifier.
Invest in lots of chip clips and clothes pins to keep your food sealed.
Don’t leave wet towels in a pile. Hang them up in the sun or throw them in the dryer.
Clean up and wipe down deck furniture often to prevent mold.
Invest in containers for storing clothing throughout the seasons. Mold builds up in tight spaces.
Learn about products like DampRid (damprid.com)
Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed, especially when the AC is running.
Wipe down surfaces (including around and behind hanging frames) and clean up frequently (Fishermen will hose down their boats at the end of the working day or fishing trip…)
Plants can help absorb moisture!
Open containers of baking soda, just as you would put in your fridge to absorb smells, can perform wonders in the pantry and kitchen cabinets to help absorb moisture.
If you have other tips and tricks, please share them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on Pilot Crackers, check out this section of the Chebeague Island website dedicated to the once-ubiquitous Maine staple.
If you’re into nerding out about humidity, you can take a look at this article. Which state has the highest humidity? Might surprise you! And Maine is pretty high on the list!
Of note, it’s not your imagination that this past July was much rainier than usual. It was the rainiest July in a century recorded in Portland with more than 9.5 inches. This is over 2.5 times more than the average of 3.6 inches!