Maintain Safe Food Temperature While Camping
Camping is one of the best ways to spend time with the family and relax. It can help you have a relaxing escape from your hectic schedule and daily grinds. It offers you numerous opportunities to have outdoor fun with your loved ones. The best thing about camping is that you can lie in the lap of nature under the stars, listen to the noise of birds, water, wind and create memories.
Camping offers numerous benefits like relationship building, stress reduction, developing a connection with nature, enjoying the taste of food, etc. Being stuck in the hectic schedules, many people are unable to enjoy their meals. Moreover, the food prepared in the outdoors tastes better than the kitchen. Nothing can beat the taste of the food cooked over a campsite grill or a campfire. Fresh and healthy camping food doubles the fun of camping.
However, in the long camping trip, it becomes difficult to keep the food worth consuming. Cooking and having fresh food is easy but keeping the food safe for consumption is challenging. The use of expired or spoiled food can result in food poisoning. Therefore, it becomes essential to maintain a certain cold temperature for keeping the food safe.
Tips to Keep the Food Safe During Camping
Keeping the food cold and safe for a longer duration is a bit difficult. However, you can follow some tips and keep the food safe for camping.
Food Buying and Storing Tips
- While buying the poultry, seafood, or fresh meat for making camping meals for large groups, it is essential to check the ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates. In case these dates are passed, it is advisable not to purchase those food items. If you are having any such items at your home, do not use them.
- Store the canned food always in a dry, clean, and cold place.
- While storing the seafood, meat, or poultry in the cooler, do not forget them to wrap it in multiple layers. Wrapping the packages in the layers of foils or plastic helps in preventing leaks.
- In case the cans of the food are bulging, rusted, leaking, or dented, discard them right away.
- If the perishable food items are outside in the temperature above 90°F, it is advisable to refrigerate them within 2 hours of purchase. ,e you have the doubt of the presence of bears, it is advisable to store food in bear canisters, airtight containers in bear lockers, or trunk of your vehicle.
Safe Storage Tips for Perishable Items
To ensure safe camping food storage, it is essential to know to maintain the right temperature that is 40°F or below that. In the case of frozen foods, the required temperature is 0°F or below. Maintaining this temperature during camping is hard. However, with the help of a cooler, you can keep the frozen food cold at the beginning of your trip. You can use a thermometer to rest assured about the temperature of your cooler. Here is a list of food items and their safe storage time. If these perishable food items are kept in a cooler at 40°F or below, they are safe for the consumption for the mentioned duration.
- Hard-boiled eggs- 1 week
- An unopened package of cold cuts – 2 weeks
- Smoked sausages – 1 week
- Raw roasts, chops, and steaks – 3 to 5 days
- Fresh, raw, and in-shell eggs- 3 weeks
- Mayonnaise – 2 months
- An opened package of cold cuts – 3 to 5 days
- Bacon – 1 week
- Pasteurized egg substitute in liquid form (opened) – 3 days
- Uncooked Chicken (pieces or whole) – 1 to 2 days
- Raw sausages (made from beef, pork, or poultry) – 1 to 2 days
- Pasteurized egg substitute in liquid form (unopened) – 10 days
- An unopened package of hot dogs – 2 week
- Raw seafood and fish – 1 to 2 days
- Ground meat (turkey, lamb, veal, raw beef, or pork) – 1 to 2 days
- An opened package of hot dogs – 1 week
- Homemade tuna salad, chicken salad, or egg salad – 3 to 5 days
Food Preparation Tips
Either you are preparing one-pot camping meals or each item separately, it is important to pay attention to some key factors like
- While handling the food ensure that your hands are clean. Ensure that you wash your hands with an antibacterial soap both before as well as after touching the food.
- Ensure that the raw seafood, poultry, and meat are in the cooler until you need them for cooking.
- It is advisable to wash the hands, knife, cutting board and work surfaces with the hot soapy water after cutting the raw meat.
- Always keep the marinated food in the cooler having a temperature of 40°F or below.
- Thaw the frozen poultry, seafood, and meat thoroughly before you cook them. Thawing frozen food ensures even cooking of the food.
- Keep the raw poultry, seafood, and meat away from the other food items.
- While thawing the food, ensure that the poultry, meat, or seafood are wrapped properly. Even wrapping the food would help in avoiding the dripping of the juices on the other foods.
- If you have frozen snacks for camping, keep them separate from the raw meat, chicken, and thaw them separately.
- To thaw the food quickly, ensure you place it in a leak-proof and a sealed plastic bag and dip it into the cold water. Every 30 minutes, change the water until the frozen food is thawed completely. As the food thaws, cook it immediately.
- Avoid using the same utensils or dishes for the raw as well as cooked poultry, seafood, and meat.
In case you are not sure whether the meat is fully cooked, you can use a meat thermometer. The best way to check the right temperature of cooked meat is by inserting the thermometer in the thickest part of it. For each item the ideal temperature is different. Here is the idea of the right cooking temperature of different camping meals
- Pork (roasts or chops) – 160°F
- Ground Poultry – 165°F
- Poultry breast meat – 170°F
- Ground meat (pork, lamb, beef, and veal) – at least 160°F
- Veal, beef, lamb (roasts, chops, or steaks) – 145°F
If you are going to prepare healthy camping recipes, it is important to pack each item wisely. You need to pay a good amount of attention to the packing task so that your food remains safe and healthy. Here are some tips that you can follow while packing your cooler.
- If you have two cooler than it is great. You can pack the drinks in one cooler and food in another cooler.
- To ensure that your cooler stays at 40°F or below, it is advised to use an appliance thermometer. For the frozen foods you need to maintain the temperature of 0°F.
- Add the ice to the cooler at least 30 minutes before adding food to it. Adding ice in advance would chill the cooler and you would have a maintained temperature.
- Before you add the food or beverages to the cooler ensure they are chill.
- Keeping the frozen food in the chilled cooler would help you to keep them cold for longer. Therefore, it is advisable to freeze the fruits, non-carbonated beverages, poultry, seafood, and meat in advance.
- Instead of using ice chunks or cubes, you can opt for the ice blocks. In comparison to ice cubes and chunks, the ice blocks would last for a longer duration. You can make the ice block yourself by freezing the water-filled resealable freezer bags of ½ gallon or 1 gallon. Do not forget to double-bag the ice blocks, it would help you to prevent leakage during ice melts.
- To avoid the unnecessary opening as well as rearrangement of food in the cooler, you can group the items by meal. Arranging the food according to the use like first on top, second in the middle, etc. can also help.
- Keep the cooler filled with the ice and try to open them as less as possible.
- Place the cooler in the coolest part of your vehicle or in a shady spot.
- Place the ice at the bottom of a cooler. Keep the frozen food over the layer of ice and make another layer of ice. On the second layer of ice place, the anther items and again place some ice on it.
Apart from these tips, you can also make the use of dry ice to keep the food cold. The frozen carbon dioxide would help you to keep the food items cold for a few days. However, before you keep the dry ice in your cooler, it is advised to wrap it thoroughly. The most important thing about dry ice is that you need to place it at the top of the food.