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How to Keep Food from Spoiling when Camping

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter July Outdoor Living Newsletter
Couple drinking at a campsite sitting on coolers in front of their tent
Coolers keep food fresh when camping

Camping is a lot of fun, but you know what's not? Food spoiling and getting food poisoning. Bacteria can contaminate food when it's not stored and prepared properly. When this happens, food gets spoiled and goes to waste. Even worse, when spoiled food enters the body, getting food poisoning is not far behind.

The next time you go on a camping trip, take note of these tips to keep food from spoiling :

1.  The Art of Freezing

Freezing is an effective way of preserving food. It works so well that you can freeze certain types of food for up to 12 months and they will still be safe to eat. Before you leave for your camping trip, freeze meats and vegetable packages then store with ice (dry ice keeps food frozen for longer periods) in a cooler.

2.  Designate Coolers

Coolers are necessary in food storage. To better handle your food, bring three coolers with you. In the first cooler, put meats and other food to be cooked. The second cooler is for snacks and beverages, and the third is for leftovers (skip this if you can guarantee no leftovers). The reason for segregating is to keep the raw meats from contaminating your ready-to-eat-and-drink goods. It is also necessary to sparingly open coolers to prevent the ice from melting and the frozen food from thawing. As campers reach in for snacks and beverages many times through the day, it's a great idea to separate snacks from the meats.

3.  Pre-Cook Meat

Cooked food takes longer to spoil than raw food. There are a couple of different methods of pre-cooking:

  • Boiling - boil meat in water, salt, pepper, and other spices. Not only does this prolong the storage life of the meat, it also cuts down food preparation time when camping.
  • Dry rubbing - rub meat with salt, herbs, and spices. Salt is the cheapest preservative, and this process enhances the taste of the meat.
  • Marinating - marinate grilled meats ahead of time. The acid in the marinade helps preserve meat longer and lets the juice spread evenly through the meat.

4.  Divide Meat and Store in Airtight Plastic Containers

Storing large blocks of meat is a good idea if you are camping in big groups. But if there are only four of you or less, you might want to divide meat according to intended recipe. It is bad to take out meat repeatedly, as this encourages bacterial growth and may contaminate other food in the cooler.

5.  Plan Your Menu Well

Easy to spoil food, such as dairy, meat, and produce, must be consumed first before processed food and those with preservatives like canned meat and instant noodles. Cook only what is enough for the group to avoid leftovers.

6.  Keep Food Away from Sunlight

Sunlight is good for your skin and bones, but really bad for your food. Keep food, whether raw or cooked, away from sunlight as this speeds up food spoilage.

Most importantly... have fun and stay healthy while camping!

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