7 tips on how to keep your food cold during picnics and camping trips

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7 tips on how to keep your food cold during picnics and camping trips

The two most important things to always keep in mind when camping are the location and food. Of course, choosing the location is a matter of individual preference; packing food and keeping it fresh is a must for every camper. 

Now, unless you want to settle with foraging wild berries and mushrooms, here are some tips when packing your food for the outdoors.

Use regular and dry ice packs

Ice is a staple whenever you are out camping as it is the only thing that will keep the temperatures of food in check while out in the wilderness. You can use regular ice or dry ice.

Dry ice is basically carbon dioxide in solid form. It is strongly advised to use caution when handling it by using tongs or while wearing insulated gloves, as dry ice can burn your skin. When storing your food, it is better to place the ice packs on top as cool temperatures move downward, as with the case of dry ice. You should also avoid placing ice next to carbonated drinks, as it will cause them to explode.

Invest in a quality cooler

High-end coolers may cost you a couple extra hundred bucks, but the thicker walls and better insulation they provide will make it worth it. A high-quality cooler should also be airtight to make sure that they’ll keep your food very cold, with some being able to keep ice solid for three or four days. Also, check if the cooler you get has a drain. This will allow you to let water out.

Although not very popular, you can also purchase an electric cooler or a portable car fridge if you frequently camp at powered campsites or you want to use a car battery.

Add salt

Contrary to popular belief, salt does not essentially make water not. Salt works to depress the freezing point of water so the water can become colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) before it turns to ice. Water containing salt can reach temperatures of almost -6 degrees Fahrenheit (-21 degrees Celsius).

Salt is in fact used in ice cream factories. Unfrozen cream is placed into a canister and rotated within a salty ice bath. Since salt water has a lower freezing point, the temperature of the ice bath can get even colder, thus freezing the ice cream more quickly.

Do not leave empty spaces in the cooler

When storing food in a cooler, the air between the tiny spaces can prove to be your greatest enemy. Try to fill any and all empty spaces by putting loose ice cubes, and harder-to-reach areas with kitchen towels and newspapers. Also make sure that the cooler is properly and tightly shut to help cut down the air circulation to the minimum.

Freeze everything that can be frozen

Before your trip, freeze everything that can be frozen, especially if it has some water content in it. Instead of storing regular beverages, freeze them beforehand so that, later in the trip, you will still have water and your sodas will still be cold. Aside from that, these will act as extra ice for your cooler. Same goes for meats and vegetables!

Avoid the sun

To make sure that your cooler works efficiently, keep it cold from the inside and the outside. Try not to put your cooler in a hot storage area before you have started filling it. Keep the cooler in a cool, shaded room before your trip. 

Also, avoid placing the cooler in the sun, even after you have arrived at your camping site. Always keep it in a shady area, like under a tree or under a canopy. You can also cover your cooler with a tarp or some blankets or keep it in the trunk of your vehicle if it is near your camping ground. It would also be very effective if you could keep the cooler at a slightly raised, say, with a wooden platform underneath it. Raising the cooler this way keeps it from coming in direct contact with the hot ground.

If you’re at the beach or any hot, sandy area, you can dig a hole in the sand and put your cooler in it. This will help you get an extra day or two out of your cooler. Sand is actually an incredible insulator against heat, and it gets colder the deeper you go!

Do not open often

When you are out in the open, do not open your cooler more than needed. In fact, the very reason why air is your cooler’s enemy comes into play here as well.

If you frequently open the cooler, not only will the hot air from the surroundings go in, but also the cool air from inside will come out, thus making the temperature inside a whole lot warmer. This disrupts the internal temperatures and hence the ice retention capabilities. 

Got a question, or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!

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