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Keeping food cold

Posted by rakegirl (My Page) on
Mon, May 2, 05 at 14:00

I need ideas for keeping my ice chest cold over an extended trip.
The longest I've camped so far has been 5 days and I used milk jugs filled with water and frozen as big ice blocks. This has worked great, but my family is planning a ten day camping trip for our vacation in September this year. I HATE soggy ice chests, so I'm looking for a way to replace my jugs when they thaw, I'm assuming, mid-trip without resorting to buying and dumping in bag ice. I will be buying a Coleman Xtreme to take for my main chest and will also take my older who-knows-what name-but works great- chest. Oh and I like to cook and freeze as much as possible ahead of time, so that should help. Is there anyway in the world to keep some of this frozen or partly so for the second half of my trip?
Thanks in advance for ideas


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Keeping food cold

Is there a way a neighbor/friend could ship the last week of frozen food to you under dry ice? Failing that carry a generator and freezer.


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RE: Keeping food cold

Rakegirl
On extended trips we just use ice packs that we make ourselves.

Take a zip lock type freezer bag. You can use any size that you wish from a small to extra large. Fill them 2/3 with water. 2/3 allows for expansion and will not burst the bag when frozen. Lay the bags on a cookie type sheet or cake pan and freeze. A small pinch of salt can also be added to each bag of water to make the ice freeze harder.

They will keep for a long time and can be easily packed around food without getting it soggy. Once they thaw out just remove the bags and dump the water out. Save the bags, for they can be used to fill with bought bags of ice.


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RE: Keeping food cold

Now why didn't I think of that? Thank you - that is a truly great idea.


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RE: Keeping food cold

rakegirl - having had the Coleman Xtreme cooler (small, 36 qt) since they about first came out, I can say from experience the performance has been much higher compared to other types & brands I've used in the past. Also, picked up a second Xtreme to supplement the orginal ... would rather have two smaller coolers rather than just one large unit; smaller ones easier to handle and I like to keep some items seperate. Just got back from an extended long weekend outing and using just one of the Xtreme coolers, and I note there is still ice in that cooler and all the food stuffs are COLD - and that's six days! Of course, it's the mild time of the year around here compared to how warm it's going to get later this summer! Don't know what brand or type of cooler you have been using, but all things considered, the Coleman Xtreme cooler is a good performer.

What I do is freeze some of those 20oz water bottles I buy from Wal-Mart (Sams brand?) and just before I hit the road, place them (lying down) on the bottom of the Xtreme coolers, then placing food stuffs on top of the frozen water bottles (some of the food things might also be frozen, too, which is going to add to the cooling capacity of the cooler). Might add as well a 1 1/2 qt sized "Tupper Ware" container full of frozen water. Bottom line is these frozen items are going to keep the cooler cold plus I'll use them after they have thawed. Even the tupperware container will be used for left overs and such. Purchased bag ice can be added later as needed, which of course, is going to turn into water and the excess will have to be drained off; but I think a certain amount of cold water at the bottom of the cooler helps keep the temps down in the range for keeping fresh meats, eggs & ect.

Ice coolers and a certain amount of slosh are simply a way of camping life. Having tight closing plastic type containers for food storage and watching the melted water level will keep things manageable for decent food storage. Another point is to use as much space as possible inside the cooler - extra empty space has to be kept cool, too. And try to keep the opening and closings of the cooler at a minimum. One other important thing for getting long use from the cooler is to make sure the orginal things that are placed into the cooler are already cooled. For example, placing warm drinks into a cooler will simply take some ice to cool the stuff down; but once cooled, easier to keep cool with a lot less ice.

Good luck,

Dale


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RE: Keeping food cold

Although we're well into the 21st century, let's take a tip from the previous one, and answer your delemna in only two words: DRY ICE!
Since it sublimates and doesn't melt, it will not make your cooler soggy. Because it's colder than ice and dense, it will last days longer and keep your food frozen.
During a trip to Yosemite last Summer, we kept two large coolers of marinated meats frozen for 10 days using about 40 pounds of dry ice.


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RE: Keeping food cold

I freeze 2 litre bottles of water and stand them up in the cooler and they do a great job of keeping things cold for quite a few days. Also, freezing qt. size zip lock bags and laying them across the top and bottom really helps and they can fit where space is tight.
Lynda


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RE: Keeping food cold

Here are a couple of things we do to stretch our ice. Two coolers, one for drinks (Frequently opened) and one for long term. Cover cooler with an old sleeping bag, blanket or even a light weight tarp helps. Keep coolers in shade. We also use a metal rack w/ legs to keep our stuff out of the water. These racks are sold as camp fire grills and are chrome plated with folding legs, available at large discount stores. Prefreeze as much stuff as you can. Use block ice then fill in with cubes until cooler is completely full.


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RE: Keeping food cold

I totally agree! DRY ICE! My Husband and I do alot of camping and traveling it's the only way to go. pack your frozen items in a cooler with the dry ice, depending on the size of your coolers you can also keep frozen water bottles and store bought bags of ice frozen just stick it in the same cooler, take it out as you need it.
Keep another cooler for items that you do not want frozen
and use the frozen water bottles for that one.
I keep 2 days of meals at a time in the chest with the reg. ice and do not open the cooler with the dry ice but every few days. keep it in a cool shady spot covered with a thick blanket. Once you've tried dry ice you'll never go back! warning do not touch dry ice it normally comes in paper , leave the paper on and make sure you bring a pair of gloves in case you have to handle it. It will burn your fingers.Oh one more thing do not put eggs in the same chest with it they will freeze.


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RE: Keeping food cold

And you can pour your favorite color of Kool Aide on the Dry Ice and have one heck of a camp site with a Disco floor effect.lol


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RE: Keeping food cold

Now THAT is creative thinking! : )


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RE: Keeping food cold

rakegirl - just got back from a trip into the western mountains of North Carolina and getting ready to empty out the Xtreme ice cooler. Now, I left out last Friday morning, had placed (5) 20oz plastic frozen water bottles on the bottom of the cooler, added already chilled food stuffs, three of those items were already frozen as well.

In a seperate ice chest I placed some drinks and added a bag of ice to chill them down. When we got to the campsite late Friday afternoon, added another bag of ice to this drink cooler (plus drained off some water). Saturday afternoon added 1/2 bag ice to the drink cooler with the other half going into the Xtreme cooler. Nothing was added Sunday and Monday did the 1/2 bag of ice to each. By Wednesday most of the food stuffs were used that were brought from home and so combined the contents of both coolers into the Xtreme and added another bag of ice. Here it is (now back at home), and time to clean out the Xtreme - there's still plenty of ice floating around in some very cold water, AND those 5 (20oz) water bottles are still half frozen ... they still have ice at their very core. Essentially we're talking about a week. I'm well pleased with the performance of the Xtreme cooler.

Dale


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RE: Keeping food cold

Excellent! Now I'm sure the X'trem will be the cooler to get and thanks for the great run down on keeping the cold going.


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RE: Keeping food cold

Great tips, thanks to all who recommended the Xtreme and dry ice. Where you you get the dry ice?


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RE: Keeping food cold

OK - I have to put my two cents in here - for whatever it is worth. I have been camping with Dry Ice for a couple of years now - we do an 8 to 10 day annual trip and it takes some work to keep your stuff cold. There are no stores close enough to run down and get ice.

This is what I do - I have two Xtreme coolers (they are great) - I take a cheap styrofoam cooler and cut it down and place my dry ice in it and then put it in the center of the cooler. Then I pack the frozen zip-loc bags on the floor of the cooler and up the sides. The Dry Ice has to be insulated really good - wrap it in news paper then place it in the styrofoam. You can also put newspaper around the inside of the cooler for extra insulation. After every thing is packed in the cooler (the tighter the better) then cover it all with newspaper and place more fozen bags across the top. I have had the perfect refridgerator for 5 days doing this. When the dry ice is gone I get a block of ice to take it's place and it will generally get me through the trip.

Words of wisdom??? - don't wrap dry ice in a platic bag - the gas makes it explode, pop the water drain on your cooler - the gas need to escape and will pop the lid on your cooler and last but not least - don't place dry ice directly on the floor of your cooler - it will crack it - I left living proof at the last campground we visited!


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