Home-cooked food is a holiday highlight and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as rustling up a sumptuous meal with little more than a can opener, a camping stove and a smattering of utensils. But if you’re planning to travel with food this summer, it’s worth taking a look at our top 10 tips for transporting food safely – summer heat and a lack of equipment may otherwise lead to a better knowledge of the campsite ‘facilities’ than you might have hoped…
1. If you’re taking a cooked dish, cook it, cool it as quickly as possible and refrigerate it. Transfer it to a cool box with ice packs just before setting off.
2. Think about freezing meat or ready-cooked dishes and transporting them frozen, that way you know they won’t get too hot en route. You can’t refreeze them at your destination though so you’ll need to plan how you will keep them cold when you get there.
4. If you’re travelling by car in hot weather, open the doors before you set off to let the heat out, put the food in the coolest place in the car and if you have it, put the air con on.
5. Food safety rules are the same as they would be at home so wash your hands before you prepare food outside. Equipment and utensils all need to be thoroughly cleaned too.
6. All perishable food should be kept at the correct temperature. Keep food that belongs in the fridge cold and serve hot food, piping hot throughout. Heat kills most bacteria so this is really important.
8. Cold food shouldn’t be above 8C for more than four hours and hot food shouldn’t be below 63C for more than two hours. Once it has reached this threshold you need to throw it away.
9. Plan ahead, if you’re travelling long distances, it may be safer to visit a supermarket nearer your destination to get the perishable items. Make sure you have enough cool bags, cool boxes and ice packs as well as sealed food containers. If there is a fridge at your destination, transfer the food immediately before unpacking the rest of your stuff. If there isn’t a fridge, plan to eat the perishable items when you arrive.
10. Consider taking foods that don’t need refrigerating to bulk out your meals eg muffins, cakes (without butter icing), bread, trail mix and bars. Canned, jarred and UHT foods can be surprisingly good. Vegetarian meals are a great option, if you want to cook up a storm on a campsite – a veggie casserole made with seasonal veg, spices, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas makes for a filling meal. You can now also buy pre-cooked grains which are quick and simple for making salads out of or dropping into soups and stews.
Now you know the basics, take a look at our camping recipes for great recipes to make or take al fresco.