By Alexandra Leduc, nutritionnist at Alex cuisine and writer
Conserving food properly is essential to avoid food poisoning and waste when you’re camping. Choosing and cooking your food carefully is also important to keep everyone healthy and happy.
There are some simple basic rules that you can follow to keep food fresh and clean and avoid food poisoning.
If you have access to a refrigerator, of course, that’s the best way to keep your food fresh. But if a cooler is all you have, here are some useful tips.
- Store perishable food (meat, fish, cheese, milk, etc.) in a cooler that keeps food at a temperature of 4°C or less.
- Don’t leave the cooler in the sun, and open it as seldom as possible. That will help keep things inside cooler for longer.
- Freeze meat and prepared meals before you leave. They will stay fresh longer, and will help to keep the other food in the cooler fresh, too.
- Pack the cooler with the items you’ll use the most frequently on top. That way you won’t have to keep the lid open while you dig around inside.
- The cooler must be able to seal properly – don’t fill it to overflowing.
- Use large blocks of ice rather than bags of ice chips. Blocks last longer.
- Put the ice on top of the items you want to keep cold, and not in the bottom of the cooler – remember, cold flows downward.
If you’re cooking outdoors, there are a few rules to be applied so as not to contaminate raw or cooked food.
- Make sure you always have potable water available. Otherwise, boil your water for 5 to 10 minutes to make sure it is drinkable. You can also use water purification tablets. Ask at the campground reception whether the water is safe to drink.
- Wash your hands with soap after touching raw meat. Knives, utensils, cutting boards and all other utensils that have come into contact with raw meat must be washed with soap and hot water as soon as possible.
- Keep raw meat in sealed bags, far away from fresh vegetables and fruit, to avoid contamination.
- Keep cooked meat in sealed containers, at a temperature of 4°C or less. Don’t let raw meat come into contact with cooked meat.
- Eat fresh and cooked meat within 2 to 3 days, before bacteria appear.
- Never leave perishable food out at room temperature for longer than two hours. It should be refrigerated or placed in the cooler as soon as possible.
In the end, the point is that in order not to get sick on your vacation, you have to be careful with perishable foods. It’s just common sense!