Coolers are an important part of food safety in summer picnics, but do you get the best use out of yours? Insulated containers are good at maintaining their internal temperature: hot or cold. They are not, however, good at re-cooling food that has spent time in the sun. To get the best out of your cooler this summer, keep in mind these basic temperature control tricks from What’s Cooking America.
Coolers are great for hot foods as well as cold. If you try to pack hot and cool in the same cooler, however, you’ll end up with lukewarm bacteria heaven, so pack one cooler for hot foods and one for cold.
Pack the contents at the temperature you want to consume them. You’ll go through less ice if those cans of soda have been chilled before you pack them, and that pot of meatballs should be steaming hot when you wrap it in foil and pack it away.
Give the cooler a little backup support. The entire physical nature of the universe is fighting for temperature equilibrium and your cooler can only do so much to fight it. If your foods need to stay cold, pack plenty of ice. If you want them to stay hot, invest in a hot pack.