I’m not sure about you, but my calendar has a lot of X’s through words that once said “Father’s Day BBQ”, “Tickets for Hamilton”, “Fourth of July Parade”, “My Bridal Shower” and has left me with a LOT more free time than I expected this summer.
As bummed as I am to be missing or postponing some of these incredible things I had lined up for my summer, I also want to be safe and responsible for my community. To keep positive and active, I have been hitting the trails. We’ve picked different trails for each weekend this summer and are looking forward to exploring some new places while staying active and safe!
But safe hikes and camping also means making sure that you have safe food. What’s a good hike or camping trip without fuel? Here are a few tips to keep food safe during hot temperatures and venturing out.
1. Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold
Bacteria multiply rapidly within the “danger zone,” between 40°F and 140°F. Keep foods out of the danger zone by keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. This means cooking and reheating foods to a safe temperature, AND properly storing foods that require refrigeration. Perishable foods should not be left unrefrigerated for more than two hours, or more than one hour if it’s over 90°F outside. Luckily, with a few simple steps, you can keep food safe even without the luxury of a refrigerator or microwave.
Short Hikes: If you are going out for a short hike, bring along nonperishables or chilled foods. To keep cold foods cold, freeze overnight or cover them with frozen gel packs or frozen juice boxes and bottled water. These frozen beverages will thaw during the hike while keeping your food cold.
Overnight Camping: If you are camping overnight, cook foods to the proper internal temperature. Pack a food thermometer to ensure foods have reached a safe temperature, because you can’t rely on sight or taste alone to determine doneness.
- Cook burgers made of raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Heat hot dogs and any leftover food to 165°F.
- Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
- Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
Only eat the cold items if they remain below 40°F.
2. Don’t Forget to Wash
Bacteria will spread easily in an unclean environment. Bring soap, water, clean towels and hand sanitizer. Always wash your hands, utensils and all surfaces before preparing and eating food.
4. Prevent Cross-contamination
Bacteria from raw meat and poultry can easily spread to other foods from dripping juices, hands or utensils. Avoid cross-contamination by washing your hands before and after handling food, and using different platters and utensils for raw and cooked meats, seafood, eggs and poultry. Double-wrap meat and poultry when transporting in a cooler to prevent raw meat juices from dripping onto other foods.
Even safer? Cook meat before you go and reheat it on the fire grill rather than cooking from raw.
Here is a list of some of my favorite portable snacks to pack for safe munching:
- Trail mix
- Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs
- Fresh, whole fruit that doesn’t require refrigeration such as apples, bananas and oranges
- Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies
- Energy bars – try to aim for high fiber, high protein and low sugar (such as Kind Bars, RX Bars and homemade granola bars).
- Granola or granola bars – same tips apply for energy bars
- Ready-made tuna pouches
- Whole-grain tortillas
- Shelf-stable, dried jerky, such as poultry, salmon or meat jerky
Looking for trails close to St. Louis? Check out this article from St. Louis Magazine!
Fill your empty calendar with exploration!
Savory Pretzel Granola
- 3 cups pretzels twists
- 2 cups nuts almonds, cashews, or your favorite
- 1 cup oats
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas you can use any seed or other nut that you prefer
- 2 tsp mustard powder feel free to substitute mustard
- 1 tsp garlic or onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne optional
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- Preheat the oven to 275 and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, oats, nuts, seeds and spices.
- In a smaller bowl whisk the egg whites, honey and olive oil.
- Add the whisked ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated.
- Spread the mixture on baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely.
- Store in a container for up to two weeks. Pre-pack snack baggies for your outdoor fun!