Camping and hiking are two of the most popular outdoor activities for Aussies. With so many of us stuck inside for most of our working lives, we like nothing better than getting out into the fresh air, working up and appetite, and reviving the body, mind, and spirit that we can only get from the great outdoors. Luckily, if we get the outdoor urge, we can pack up the car and head out on our adventure at almost any time of the year.
Part of the fun of hiking and camping is cooking in the open air. There are a few precautions we have to take in order to stay safe and prevent a family outing turning into a rush visit to a doctor because of food-poisoning.
What Food To Bring
There are several things you need to take into consideration when planning what food you’ll bring with you on your trip. The first considerations are weight, volume, and perish-ability. Obviously, the less weight in your backpack, the less strain there will be on your back. Because you only have so much room in the backpack, smaller, concentrated or dehydrated products will be the most suitable. Concentrated, dehydrated, dried, or powdered products will also last longer. Think along the lines of calorie dense foods such as rice or pasta, nuts or dried fruits, dried soup or noodles. But don’t take too much, only what you need.
Like in any cooking environment, the importance of keeping everything clean is vital. So, just because you’re out in the jungle doesn’t mean you can be any less vigilant. Be very careful of cross contamination. That’s where there’s a spread of bacteria from meat products onto other foods, most likely with all the jiggling about when you’re travelling. The only way to truly prevent this type of contamination is not to carry raw meats or poultry with you. If you are going to take this type of product, store them in sealed containers, make sure you don’t use the same preparation tools for other food types without thorough cleansing, and always wash your hands before and after.
Cooking on Site
As with your camp food, you’ll want to keep your pots, pans, plates, cups, etc. to a minimum. You can buy lightweight sets that will provide all the basics for any camping meal. Next, how are you going to cook? Bringing a little stove is the most convenient way to cook, but you have the inconvenience of having to lug it around with you when you’re hiking. A campfire is definitely the most romantic form of cooking, harking back to the dawn of man, but not really that convenient if you’re tired and hungry. (Some places also prohibit the use of camp fires.) If you are taking a stove, get some practice assembling and lighting it in the comfort of your own home. If you’re going the caveman route, be safe and observe any laws and/or restrictions. If you are permitted to build a fire, make sure that you build a safe fire and extinguish it before moving on.
The first rule of camping and hiking is to stay safe. Following a few simple rules when it comes to your food handling and prep will make the difference between memories of a great journey or a possible nightmarish hospital stay.