How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

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If you aren’t camping you are missing big time. Camping is always fun, refreshing and memorable because each expedition comes with its unique experiences and memories.

Camping for many is an escape from all the craziness of work and city life, and the several enjoyable activities refresh and refuel the mind.

However, there are several factors to be considered before embarking on this outdoor adventure. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to get the best out of the camping expedition.slices of grapefruits

Camping adventures may stretch from a day to a week which means that preserving the food from spoilage becomes a concern and there are safe temperatures to store food, and you have to get these temperatures right if you are to eat fresh food.

How to keep food cold while camping may be a big ask for newbies or for people who are not experienced campers.

Keeping the food cold and preserved is not that difficult as long as you have the right equipment and camping gear.

The Steps To Keep Food Cold While Camping Are Below:

  1. Get The Best Rated Cooler

Getting the best-rated cooler is the first and important step to keep food cold while camping because it will preserve the cold and coolness for longer periods, unlike coolers that can't retain the coldness for a longer time.

Most high-end coolers have better insulation, and thicker walls to prevent quick melting and the loss of ice in the cooler.

It is also important to keep a thermometer inside the cooler just to monitor the temperature and always ensure that the temperature remains within the recommended 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Keep The Cooler In A Cool Place

Keeping your cooler directly under the sun is a no brainer because you have just turned the cooler into an oven.

Find a shade or make a shade for the cooler to reduce the melting rate of the ice which in turn affects the food.

Place a drape, or a sheet or a blanket over the cooler to further reduce heat lost to radiation.

  1. Freeze up to 90% Of Your Camp Water

Freezing up to 90% of the camp water is a great idea because the frozen water serves as ice packs for the cooler which helps to keep the food cold and it serves as an alternative to separate ice packs.

The water should be frozen in bottles so that when the water melts, it can be used to cook, drink and used for other water purposes.

Only 90% maximum of the water should be frozen because you can’t tell when there will be a water emergency

  1. Pre-chill Your Cooler A Night Before The Camp

The essence of pre-chilling your cooler a night before going camping is to reduce the temperature of the cooler to below room temperature or around zero degrees.

When the cooler is cold, the frozen food will stay cold like it was in the freezer or fridge which gives you a long time to defrost.Heineken beer bottles

 You can prechill the cooler either by putting it inside the freezer or throw in ice in it. The idea is to prepare the cooler to receive the food at the right temperature.

  1. Freeze Your Food

First things first, Cook all the food that needs to be cooked and freeze them all.

Frozen food will remain cold for a longer time as far as they are in the high-end cooler. You can make a fire to reheat the frozen food and have a clean meal to eat void of contamination.

Ensure the frozen food is at the bottom of the cooler for better preservation so that the food remains cold while camping.

  1. If Your Budget Let’s You, Get Two Coolers

If you have space and the budget then you will need two coolers if you want to keep your food cold while camping.

Two coolers give you the advantage of separating food from beverages, water and drinks.

The beverage cooler will be opened often,  and it will be the first to get warmer, unlike the food cooler that will be opened only when necessary and it will help to keep the food cold while camping.

This method is less stressful and makes for easy identification of the items you need.

  1. Smartly Pack The Cooler In Organized Layers Tightly Fitted

There's a general thumb rule for packing your cooler which is the less empty space, the longer the cooler stays cold.

The consideration here is to pack the items of the cooler in layers and tightly fitted together to give no space in the cooler.

When the cooler is smartly packed following the thumb rule for packing coolers, it reduces the melting rate of the ice which helps to keep the food cold while camping for more days.

Here’s how to pack in layers:

  • The first layer should be for the ice block.
  • The frozen food is placed in the second layer (raw meat and other fresh stuff included)
  • The third layer is packed with ice block
  • The fourth layer is for food items that will are to be eaten early
  • If there are empty spaces, fill them with more ice.
  1. Choose Long-lasting Ice Blocks

Nothing beats using the right type of ice if you want to keep food cold while camping. It is advisable to use big blocks of ice instead of those tiny blocks.

The big blocks of ice last longer and will keep the food cold for longer periods. Ensure you enclose the ice blocks in packs or zip locks to avoid water overflowing everywhere and messing things up.

Dry ice is better than all the other types of ice but it requires certain carefulness if you decide to go for it. You can get dry ice in grocery stores, and it is made of Carbon dioxide.

Dry ice will burn your skin, crack up the inside of the cooler, and freezes anything that comes in direct contact with it. Always insulate your hands from touching dry ice by wearing insulated gloves.

That's why you first wrap the dry ice in a newspaper and avoid placing food items that you don't want to be frozen next to it.

clear glass tumbler on black tray

then, when using dry ice, as the ice melts, it releases gas and the pressure in the cooler increases which means you will have to open the lid of the cooler to let the gas out once in a while to avoid the cooler from bursting open from the built-in pressure in the cooler.

Note: Ten pounds of dry ice do last up to 24 hours.

  1. Use zip Lock Bags Or Enclose Your Food In Packs

Always ensure that your food is always enclosed in a zip lock bag because you do not want water dripping into food items and other items that do need water touching it.

Put all individual packages in safe enclosures (zip lock bags or cans) to offer further protection from ice melting on food items that are meant to be dried.

  1. Do Not Drain The Cooler Unnecessarily

The melted ice turns into cold water which itself can still keep the food cold while camping for some time and as long as the food items which need not soaked in water are packed in safe enclosures.

Avoid draining the water from the cooler if the water is still cold.

  1. Add Salt To The Water For Faster Making Of Ice

Adding salt to the water makes for faster freezing when making ice blocks. Just ensure that the ice blocks made from this process are marked separately for easy identification and proper usage when it melts.

  1. Have A Thermometer Inside The Cooler

Get a fridge thermometer and keep it inside the cooler to monitor the temperature of the cooler. At a glance, you will know the safe temperatures of the food.

The thermometer gives you the accurate temperature thereby eliminating temperature guessing and ensuring the food is kept cold.

  1. Have A Back-Up Plan

Like the word, backup plan implies; get an escape plan you can rely on just in times of emergencies. These backup plans include can food, snacks, no-perishables, and food supplements that do not need to be preserved cold before eating.

  1. Evaporative Cooling For Produce

Not every food needs to be preserved cold. Evaporative cooling works for fruits and vegetables. It can preserve them fresh for days.

Evaporative cooling works this way;

  • Put the produce in a porous sack (mesh or burlap, etc.) and wet the entire sack.
  • Suspend the sack on a shady place where there's a breeze.
  • Wet the sack again when it dries. The process may be repeated up to 3 times a day.

Another method is to dig a hole in the ground to store the produce. This method works fine too but I am concerned about this procedure because the product may be attacked by insects and bugs.

Evaporative cooling has been proven to be effective in keeping the produce fresh while camping.

It's a must to know how to keep food cold while camping because it will determine whether you will have fabulous camping or not because food is an important part of outdoor camping.

Knowing how to keep food cold while camping will not only save you from having food but the embarrassment from deadly scenarios of food poisoning when the food isn’t well preserved.

Experiencing camping outdoor should be about spending time with the family, friends, and loved ones and basking in the serenity nature, and not being unnecessarily bothered about food getting bad.

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Outdoorcaregear.com editorial team.

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