Cooler Tips and Advice
I thought some tips on coolers would be of help to some people. After all, any long distance roadtrip traveler always takes along a cooler. Much of this post is a cut and paste from other sites but there is some good info worth sharing.
What to look for when buying an ice chest:
• all-around insulation
• tight-fitting lids
• a drain plug
• storage bin insert
• enough space for your needs
Tips on Cleaning Your Cooler
Wash cooler with warm soapy water. Use kitchen ingredients, such as baking soda, to remove stains. To sanitize cooler, spray the inside with a mixture of 1 teaspoon. of liquid bleach to 1 quart of water. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes and wash again with clean water. Leave lid open for cooler to air dry before storing. Some coolers come with removable liner. Remove liner and wash with warm soapy water.
When You Pack Your Cooler:
Whatever make, style, or size ice chests you use, the best way to keep food cold and prolong the ice is to avoid opening them as much as possible. Using two coolers is the best arrangement. Use one for beverages that will be opened more frequently and one for foodstuffs that will be opened less often. Food will stay fresh much longer packed in a separate cooler because it will be opened less frequently.
A 54-quart cooler should provide ample room to store food for two or three people for a few days, especially if meals prepared later in your outing are made from canned or dried ingredients.
Wash all perishable foods, such as fruits & vegetables, before leaving home. Pack all foods in air tight bags or sealed plastic containers to prevent cross contamination.
Packing a cooler to maximize efficiency doesn’t require a degree in rocket science, but a good game plan and common sense will ensure that goods stay fresh and ice lasts as long as possible.
Try these helpful tips:
• Pre-chill drinks and foods – Ice lasts longer when items in a cooler are already cold. For instance, a six-pack or a gallon of liquid at room temperature melts about 1 1/2 pounds of ice just to cool down. Pre-chill coolers by placing a few ice cubes inside an hour or so before loading your cold beverages and food.
• Put ice in last – Cold air travels down. Load cans and bottles first, then cover with ice for maximum cold-keeping.
• Use crushed or block ice – Crushed ice cools food and drinks fast; block ice lasts longer. Block ice keeps food cold for longer periods of time when compared to crushed or cubed ice. A mixture of block and cubed ice is recommended. Place block ice at the bottom of the cooler. Place perishable foods directly on block ice. Cover perishable foods with cubed ice. Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator into the cooler. Keep foods dry and safe from cross contamination by placing in air tight bags or sealed plastic containers. As an alternative to block ice, prefreeze drinking water or juices in clean milk jugs. They’ll help keep foods cold and provide a handy source of cold beverages as they thaw. Water balloons and Ziploc bags can be filled with water and frozen over and over again and last much longer than crushed ice. They also have the advantage of not leaking.
• Ice packs are available in many different sizes and styles and take less room than ice.
• Dry ice may be used only if wrapped in heavy layers of newspaper. Direct contact of dry ice with the interior of the unit will crack the interior. If you do use dry ice, keep your vehicle well-ventilated and keep the drain plug uncapped. For safety's sake, keep your ice chest away from the reach of small children to prevent ice burn or the possibility of them becoming trapped inside.
• Put foods in “chronological” order – Pack foods that will be consumed last on the bottom and work upward, storing first-used and often-used items on top. Store perishable foods like meat and dairy products directly on ice. Keep foods dry by using sealed plastic containers or zip-closure plastic bags.
• Keep coolers out of the sun – Ice lasts as much as twice as long in the shade. To keep warm air out and cold air in, open the lid only when necessary and close it right away. While traveling, pack picnic blankets, sleeping bags or clothing around the cooler to insulate it even more.
• Don’t drain cold water – Water from just-melted ice keeps contents cold almost as well as ice and preserves the remaining ice much better than air space. Drain the water only when necessary for convenient removal of cooler contents or before adding more ice. To keep ice from melting on cooler contents, pack it in resealable plastic bags.
• A cooler is not meant to re-chill food that has remained at a temperature of 40°F or above for one hour or more. Only food that has remained at safe temperatures should be placed back into the cooler. To be safe, throw out any food you are unsure of. Keep perishable foods in cooler until just before serving.
• Pack it Full to Keep it Cold a full cooler will maintain safer temperatures longer than a half empty cooler.
• If you have the space, instead of using one large (and heavy) cooler for everything, have one small or medium-sized cooler for raw meat, fish and poultry and another for ready-to-eat foods and drinks. Avoid “Cooler Cross-Contamination”
Before you put raw meat, fish and poultry in your cooler, put them in tightly sealed plastic containers or plastic bags. Their raw juices are loaded with bacteria that can contaminate ready-to-eat foods.
• make sure you close the lid tight
• avoid opening frequently
i hope this is usefull.