Camping and Outdoors

Cooking While Camping – Staying Safe And Eating Tasty

I’m excited to announce a contribution from freelance writer and mother of two, Jenny Holt. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind. She has written a post for us today about cooking tips for your next camping trip. I hope you enjoy her article!


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The CDC reports that food poisoning kills around 3000 Americans every year and makes a sixth of us sick. The risk of harm from food poisoning whilst camping is even higher than at home, so it is vital that before you go you know how to handle food properly. It is just as important that you know how to prepare tasty meals when you are there. How then can you stay safe and east tastily when you are under canvas?

General Tips And Tricks

Camping in America is a little trickier than in many other countries around the world. While Europeans may have to contend with the odd fox or hedgehog, we’ve got wolves, cougars and bears bothering us. It is always good practice to keep food sealed away to prevent bacterial or other contamination, but it will also keep the scents in. Using bags with strong seals within tupperware containers will allow you to avoid cross contamination and bear-attraction. If you do this with all ingredients you can have everything measured and prepared in advance. It is safer to bring cooked meat with you (pre-chopped to reduce your need to handle it) rather than raw. If you really must have fresh meat keep it in a cooler and as much in the shade as possible.

Plan Your Cooker According To Your Site And Trip

There are a huge range of cooking options available from open fires right through to complicated multi ring burners. Many national parks and other camping sites have restrictions as to what can be used where, so it is vital to check ahead. It is also very important to consider what you will be doing. A hard driven hike through the wilderness is best suited to a lightweight model (the type of which would depend on the conditions you may be cooking in) but a formal camp next to your car could have a barbecue, full stove and even a pizza oven. Pick the best and most flexible example that suits your venue and plans.

Simple And Safe Solutions

One very easy way to keep things safe, tasty and simple is to prepare your food in advance and freeze it. Frozen food kept in an appropriately insulated bag could be safe for days (depending upon the degree of insulation). This method means that you completely control the flavors, don’t risk any contamination while preparing the food and you reduce the amount of washing up needing to be done. Use wet wipes to supplement soap and water, don’t rely on alcohol hand washes alone as they don’t help clean, only sanitize. Carrying your water with you is the best option but not a very practical one. A reverse osmosis water filter can be absolutely vital and combined with boiling can ensure that any water you encounter is safer to use. Where possible, stick to dried foods such as nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

One Pot Meals

Unless you are going to have a complicated camping set up (for which your choices are endless), your best and easiest solution is to prepare meals that can be made in one pot. One of the easiest options is a soup or stew. Noodles are a popular camping option but this can be expanded on to make a full meal. If you get water boiling (using twice or three times the recommended volume of water), add the provided stock with a couple of extra cubes to punch it up and then throw in the noodles, you’ve got a great start. Pre-chopped onions, carrots, mushrooms and cooked meat (chicken cubes, beef strips) will cook quickly, and the whole lot can be taken to the next level with some spices and herbs. The same few staples can be arranged in a wide range of ways along with dried pulses to produce a huge range of dishes.

Good Old Fashioned Meat

If you can keep meat cool then you may prefer a juicy steak or succulent chicken. Cooking over an open fire or in the open in general, it is all too easy to overcook meat due to fears over food poisoning. An easy solution to ensure you have a tasty dish every time is to use a marinade. Some marinades can help to preserve your meat but all add a deeper and rounder flavor to your dish. Using freezer bags you can keep individual pieces of meat stored in their sauce safely. Marinades can be as simple as a shawarma spice mix or more complicated blends of liquid smoke, sugars, spices and herbs. Pick a flavor you love and go for it. Chicken works well with coriander, chili, fenugreek, turmeric, garam masala and yogurt. Pork works well with honey and lemon. Beef just goes with everything.

Preparation Is All

Regardless of what kind of camp you will be having, there is a style of cookery to suit you. It is absolutely essential, though, that you plan everything in advance. Kebabs can be threaded and wrapped in foil, meats can be marinated, ingredients can be chopped and portioned… and everything can be stored safely and appropriately. Whether you want a feast of dried products or to defrost a superb meal from earlier in the week, just make sure it is kept safe and cold.

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