In the summer when temperatures can often reach 30° centigrade or hotter depending upon where you live. The heat index can make it feel like the temperature is even higher. If you’re trying to beat the heat, these ideas may help.
Plan Your Event Wisely
It may seem obvious, but choose cool foods such as salads during the summer months. If you are having a picnic or BBQ, you will want to keep the food cool to avoid bacteria growth which can make you and your family sick. A good rule to remember is that any food is at risk if it is kept outdoors at 30° centigrade for an hour or more.
Portable Food Coolers
At home, you can keep foods cool by leaving them in the refrigerator. If you are having a summer picnic or family reunion where refrigeration is not available, you can use some of these other options:
- Portable electric coolers are a great option if you are away from home. These are coolers which can plug into the electric outlet in newer vehicles. The cooler enables food to remain in the “safe zone” of under 5° centigrade while it is in use.
- Chest-style coolers are also helpful for keeping foods cool as long as they are filled properly and kept closed until the food is needed. The main advantage these have over their powered cousins is that they rely on cooling packs or ice and do not require access to electricity.
When packing, you should place the food you need last at the bottom of the cooler. This will enable you to find what you need when you need it and then close the cooler. You can also pour some ice on the bottom of the cooler, place the food on top of the ice, and then pour more ice around the food. This creates a pillow of cold air to keep the food safe.
The Right Food at the Right Time
- Make sure the food is pre-chilled or frozen before placing it in the cooler. Having the food already cold will lengthen the amount of time the food will remain safe for everyone to eat.
- Transport packed coolers inside the car where it is air-conditioned rather than in the boot. The hot summer air around the cooler can affect how quickly the ice will melt. If the cooler is placed in a hot boot, the ice will melt much faster and the food may be affected.
- When laying out your food, use two serving bowls, one larger than the other. Put ice in the largest bowl and then nestle the smaller bowl into the ice. This will keep cold foods cold much longer.
Drinks Are Important Too
- Put your drinks in a separate cooler rather than putting them in the same cooler as the food. People can consume several drinks in a short period of time, especially during a hot summer. If each person gets two drinks in an hour the cooler could be opened dozens of times which might affect the quality of the food in the cooler.
Finally, plan to have the meal at a specific time rather than having a buffet-style meal where the food is left out for hours. If you think the food has been out too long and may not be safe, go ahead and throw it out. Don’t take any chances; it is much better to be safe than sorry.
Beating the heat this summer and keeping foods safe is easier to do than you might think. Use the above ideas and you will be sure to enjoy your summer picnic or BBQ as well as avoid getting sick from food that was not kept cool enough.
Cover photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash