An icebox cooler is common food storage used in most Homes, while on a trip or camping for storage of food and drinks especially when a refrigerator is not available. The question now is “how do you use an icebox cooler”? do you use it in such a way that you are able to get that freshly desired taste?
Knowing how to use an icebox cooler is as important as getting that delicious, fresh, and satisfying meal you desire particularly when on a long trip or camping.
we will be looking at the best practice in using an icebox cooler for food storage. You are not only going to get the knowledge but you will be spending less to have your fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy foods, meat and everything else you need for a satisfying and get that fresh taste in your meals.
HOW TO USE AN ICE BOX COOLER (THE BEST PRACTICE)
The following steps are best practices for using an icebox cooler:
1. WASH BEFORE USE
Thoroughly wash your icebox cooler before packing any food for storage.
2, PREPARE YOUR ICEBOX COOLER BY CHILLING BEFORE PACKING FOOD
An icebox cooler should be kept chilled before packing food or drinks. Keeping in a commercial cooler overnight will be very helpful. Otherwise, you can leave it in an open space especially a cooler area in your house overnight before your trip.
A cold cooler will keep ice longer. You can also spread a layer of crushed ice around your icebox the day or night before you use it. This way you are preparing your icebox in advance to get chilled before the ice block you’ll put in later.
3. KEEP YOUR FOOD ORGANIZED AND SEPARATED
Your icebox cooler should be sectioned in such a way that the various food types are separated to enable you to have quick access to whatever you want to get with ease. For instance, vegetables should have a section, also fruits and likewise your meat and drinks, etc.
To preserve your ice and food, it is important to separate your drinks from your food if you have a very large icebox cooler otherwise you can get a separate cooler to keep drinks. The whole essence is that You’re likely to want drinks more often than food hence you will be opening your icebox cooler more often and that means letting heat into your cooler and the ice will melt very fast.
Having them separated means that you won’t be letting the cold out and heat into the food cooler every time you get a drink. And if the ice melts on the drinks because of opening the cooler more often, you can still take the drinks whereas food will spoil if the ice melts faster than you expect.
4. FREEZE YOUR FOOD AND DRINKS FIRST
Ensure that your food and drinks are frozen before you pack in an icebox cooler especially when you need them to stay some days before use. When they are packed frozen, they can thaw over time and will just be ready for use when you need them.
5. USE ICE BLOCKS
Use block ice because they last longer and will keep for days if your icebox cooler is airtight. Making blocks is easy and can be made in the comfort of your home by freezing water in a plastic container or a cellophane bag or Ziploc bag.
You can add salt to the water before freezing, this lowers the freezing temperature of the water, meaning that your ice will actually be colder than frozen freshwater. Alternatively use seawater if available as it will work even better than adding your own salt to the water.
Always remove blocks from the container or bag when you are ready to use, then use a hammer to crush the ice into sizeable pieces that can be placed in your cooler. They won’t melt fast and will retain coolness while you are saving some money.
6. DON’T DRAIN THE WATER BUT DRAIN WHEN NECESSARY
Do not drain or empty the cold water when your cooler is in use. The water helps to insulate your icebox and will also keep drinks like beer extra cold but will also melt the remaining ice fast. If you’re trying to preserve your blocks for some days, you’ll need to drain the water in your cooler, this way you will keep the ice insulated
7. PACK YOUR FOOD IN CONTAINERS AND LAYERS
Pack your foods in containers before placing them in an icebox cooler. You can also pack them in layers by using some insulating mat or a piece of blanket that will cut to size to fit into your cooler. This will separate the layers of the various items.
When you need to pick anything all you need do is just to lift your mat up to get what you want and place back. This will also retain coldness. The layers should be sited on a rack and put your ice blocks at the bottom of the cooler, and then cover the ice with a thin, solid layer to sit under the racks and the food arranged at the top.
Rather than placing food directly on the ice in the cooler which will melt fast and you’ll end up with food sitting in water and slipping between the ice and getting moist, the layers and rack will serve as protection. If the icebox has a drain, leave it closed except when you need to drain water out.
8. REPACKAGE YOUR FOOD
When you purchase food, always take your food out of its original packaging and put it in Ziploc bags or a plastic container before a trip to prevent it from becoming soggy. This also cuts down on waste once you’re at camp. wrap your greens in wet paper towels before sticking them in bags. It will help them stay crisp longer.
9. FILL YOUR ICEBOX AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
An icebox packed to the brim will preserve its ice longer than a part-filled icebox of air. The more food or drinks you have in your icebox, the less air you will have which would otherwise need to be cooled down and kept cold. If you do not have much food to fill your icebox you can fill it with frozen water bottles placed at the bottom.
They’ll hold the cold and fill up space. A cooler FULL of cold stuff stays cold better, even with lots of openings than a partially filled cooler with space will always take in the warm air every time it’s opened. The other advantage of the frozen water bottles is you can drink them once they thaw.
10. KEEP IT CLOSED ALWAYS AND LIMIT ACCESS
If your cooler is fully sealed when not in use, less cold air will leak out. Every time you open the cooler, you let the heat air in and let cold air out, causing ice to melt fast. Avoid opening your icebox too frequently, open it when you need something, and close it immediately to avoid expelling cool, beneficial air. Alternatively, you can get a smaller icebox for drinks because people tend to get drinks, to discourage access to the main access box cooler.
11. CLEAN AND AIR-DRY YOUR COOLER AFTER USE
Always clean your cooler immediately after use or when you are back from your trip no matter how tired you are. wash with soap and warm water with some bleach added. This will prevent bacteria growth inside.
Once cleaned leave opened and let it sit out to dry. Also, open the drain to let out all the water a little water left inside can be the perfect breeding ground for all kinds of stench.
12. STORE IT INSIDE AWAY FROM SUNLIGHT
Keep your cooler away from sunlight to avoid the plastic cracking and breaking, which can cause damage. The sun is your worst enemy in preserving your ice for obvious reasons. Keep your icebox in the shade as much as possible and ensure there is good airflow around the box.
You can add an extra layer of Insulation by cutting some old sleeping pads or blanket to cooler size and placed at the top of it for protection against sunlight. Avoid putting your icebox in the car because they absorb a lot of heat.
Your icebox cooler will be better utilized when you adhere to these best practices, .