Camping with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Summertime means it’s time for camping, hiking, and backpacking trips. Some of the best camping memories involve munching on a crisp apple around the campfire as the rest of the food cooks.

Unless you’re camping in an RV, cooler space is limited. If you’re backpacking, you have no cooler. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables will keep for three to five days without any refrigeration, so you can save the ice and cooler space for those foods that demand refrigeration.

Fruits and Vegetables for Camping that Don't Require Refrigeration

Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables that will keep without refrigeration:

•Apples
•Oranges
•Lemons
•Grapefruit
•Beans
•Broccoli
•Carrots
•Celery
•Onions
•Potatoes
•Mushrooms
•Peas
•Peppers
•Tomatoes
•Turnips
•Zucchini
•Peas in the Pod

Tips for Packing Food for Camping

  • Start out with the best, freshest produce. If it’s bruised, don’t pack it.
  • Never store fruits and vegetables in plastic bags. Trapped gases produced by the ripening produce will accelerate spoilage. Store produce in paper bags.
  • Tomatoes are very tender but they can be nestled in tissue inside of a cup, bowl, or another container to protect them.
  • If you are backpacking, an onion, green pepper, or celery can add a lot to the camp dinner. Pack this produce in craft paper and then in the center of your backpack where it will be protected from bruising.

Keeping Your Food Cool and Fresh While Camping

  • If you want to keep your food cool, consider using evaporation to lower temperatures. Load your produce, such as apples and oranges, into a wet burlap bag and hang it in the shade where breezes will reach it. Dampen the bag several times per day. The evaporating water will cool the fruit.
  • Crumpled newspaper makes a good insulator. We used to freeze boneless steaks to be used on the first day of a backpacking trip. We would wrap the frozen steaks in plastic and then in crumpled newsprint. After a long day on the trail, a fresh steak was mighty inviting.
  • Be sure and store these semi-perishable foods in the coolest spot at the campsite, maybe in the shade of a tall tree.

(Updated from May 24, 2014)

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