January 17th, 2011

campfire, cooking

Bacteria-Prone Foods and Camping

http://www.ochef.com/56.htm - I found this article and thought some folks would find this rather interesting. Actually, yes you can freeze eggs, but unlike peas, frozen, raw eggs do not have nearly the same end result. As stated on my breakfast ideas page regarding skillets, I have premixed an entire skillet breakfast before leaving home and had good results with it (not too rubbery). According to the USDA,

...Use leftover yolks and whites within 4 days.... So yes, it is also safe to consume my skillet mix as stated, provided it has been stored at no higher than 40F prior to cooking, and everything in the skillet mix is thoroughly cooked to 180F in order to kill bacteria. Cast iron skillets are your friends here, thanks to their heat retention and avoidance of hot spots. No one wants runny eggs in a skillet breakfast anyway!

If you prefer, you may separate the raw, scrambled eggs from your other ingredients in order to fry that up first, and then pour in the egg mixture a couple minutes before the first bag of ingredients are done frying. I would suggest adding the seasonings to the egg mixture though, just because it will carry over better onto everything else. There's that, and even a bit of salt will help ward off some bacteria. Just remember to squeeze the bags well prior to storing, just as a doctor would do to squeeze out air from a syringe, because air is your enemy.

Now if all that bagged raw egg stuff sounds downright scary to you, go ahead and bring them along in the shell. As you know, shells are pretty delicate, and they are susceptible to bacteria, so I would highly suggest buying them just prior to arrival. This also includes dairy products and raw and deli meats. Thin-skinned fruits and veggies should also be purchased at this time. We all know the "one bad apple" saying, and it's really true. It's the main reason why I never have good luck with buying them in bags.

Please remember: Your cooler needs to maintain that 40F or under temperature, so while you're at the local market, add another bag of ice to your cooler - if it's not completely buried in your cargo hold, that is! Every time you add more ice, dump the ice melt if it climbs past 35F, and when of course it begins to make everything soggy. (Ice melt is another big reason why I really love my freezer bags!)

Anyone who has ever hosted a kegger knows once that water starts getting warm, it has to get dumped. Otherwise, all that ends up happening is the added ice melts too quickly, and warm domestic is straight up nasty! Please do not dump your ice melt near anyone's gardens or in a water supply. You could very well introduce microbes from thawed food. It's the same reason why ice from a cooler that's storing food is never to be consumed. Camping and diarrhea do not mix well.

Remember this: Consistently under 40F and over 180F are safe for three days. They say four, but I like to raise my odds.