Going camping? If you have extra room in a vehicle or canoe, the luxury of taking along a few extravagant food items, like raw meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, can seriously up your camp cooking game. After all, some dehydrated meals taste a little like munching on a soggy cardboard box. If you're planning a multi-day camping trip by canoe or car, here are some tips for preserving food so you can make delicious meals in the backcountry (and be the envy of all your campsite neighbours!):
How to keep fresh food fresh and the frozen food frozen:
- Invest in a good cooler. Pack your cooler with crushed ice or ice packs and keep out of direct sunlight when possible. If you're going to be cracking beers often, bring a separate cooler for drinks.
- To keep frozen meat from thawing out too quickly, marinade it, store it in a zip-lock plastic bag and then wrap it in newsprint or similar paper.
- Frozen meat should be placed in the center of the food bag. Soft-sided cooler bags don't work as well at keeping things as cool as plastic, but when empty they can easily be stuffed into your backpack.
- Some meats, like bacon and sausage, will last longer than other meats due to the high amount of preservatives.
- Vacuum-sealing meat and vegetables will greatly increase their pack life. Some grocery stores will seal your purchase free of charge.
- Meat can be kept bacteria-free for up to four days by wrapping it up in a piece of J-cloth or cheese-cloth that has been soaked (not saturated) in vinegar. The vinegar smell/taste disappears as soon as the meat is placed over the fire.
- Cheese can also stay fresh much longer by wrapping it up. Try beeswax wraps.
- Don't break eggs and store them in a liquid container. This method is believed by some as a way to not have to worry about their eggs breaking. However, once the egg leaves the shell, it instantly becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, and is one possible way to get massive food poisoning on your trip. Also, always buy fresh eggs from the farmer's market rather from than the grocery store. They haven't been sitting around as long, making them last at least three times longer. And the best place to store them is in a plastic egg carton for camping.
- When making salads, choose red cabbage rather than the regular head of lettuce. It keeps for weeks without refrigeration and makes a tasty side dish when mixed with shredded carrots, red onion slices, red and green peppers, raisins and cashews.
- Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and celery will last much longer if you first float them in a sink of cold water and two tablespoons of chlorine bleach. Allow them to soak for a few minutes, air dry them, and then pack them away. The bleach will kill any surface bacteria that promote spoilage.
- Always bring back-up snacks that don't need to be chilled or frozen ... just in case.
- Chill your wine in a nearby creek, river or lake to add a touch of class to an evening around the campfire.
Dan Edwards, Unsplash
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