When food is improperly stored, it could lead to food poisoning or spoiling. While traveling, it is harder to maintain the correct temperatures for cooked food. For your food to last longer and be safe for consumption, you should store it at 140 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
You could also refrigerate or freeze at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Food stored at temperatures between 140 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit is said to be in the danger zone.
Foods such as vegetables in this zone could easily spoil, with others such as meats and rice being considered unsafe for human consumption as bacterias thrive in such conditions. This article looks at some practical ways to keep your food hot while traveling.
How To Keep Food Hot While Traveling
Heat Your Food Extra Hot
If you need to carry food while traveling, it is crucial to heat it extra hot. Usual heating temperatures mean the food will cool off fast. Let the food boil thoroughly and pack it immediately into the containers you intend to carry the food. Where possible, heat the food as the last activity before leaving the house.
Use Towels and Aluminum Foils
One of the cheapest and simplest ways to keep your food warm is to wrap the food container with a warmed kitchen towel or cloth. It provides insulation that traps heat, keeping the food hot. Aluminum foil helps reflect heat to the food container, preventing it from escaping.
This way, the food remains hot even when you are traveling. Pack your hot food in an airtight container, preferably a glass one, and wrap it around with a towel of foil before putting it into a picnic basket or any other container you wish to store it in.
Use A Thermos
You can pack your hot food in a food thermos to keep it warm. Ordinarily, a thermos has two layers, outer and inner, with a vacuum in between the layers, which acts as a heat retainer. This vacuum ensures that heat doesn’t escape from the container and thus keeps your food hot. Ensure that the food is hot before putting it in the thermos as it does not add any heat but only retains what is there.
Use Electric Lunch Box
An electric lunch box differs from an ordinary insulated one as it consists of a plug that you can connect to a power source and heat your food. It keeps losing heat with time, but you can plunge in and heat your food in your car, office, or public facility. They are easy to use and dishwasher safe. If you are traveling to a place with no access to a power source, it could cool your food.
The question is, how do you keep food hot in a cooler? We think we should use a cooler to keep stuff cold only, but you might be surprised to learn that you can use it to prevent heat from escaping your food and keeping it hot.
To use a cooler effectively in keeping food hot, wrap your pre-heated food in an airtight container with a towel or warm cloth. Place it in the cooler and place a hot water bottle or heat pack. Close the lid of the cooler tightly to avoid any loss of heat during your travel. It should keep your food hot for a couple of hours.
Hot Water Bottle
A hot water bottle is useful in more than one way. When traveling, heat your food, pack it in an airtight container and place it in a picnic bag. Place a hot water bottle beside the food container. This way, the heat from the bottle will keep the food container hot, preserving your meal’s heat.
Use Thermal Bags
These bags act by maintaining the heat of your food without adding any temperature. When you put hot food in a thermal bag, it could keep hot for longer. It may not be so efficient for long storage hours. It keeps food hot for two to three hours.
Add A Heat Pack
Add a single-use or reusable heat pack into your food basket to keep it hot. Wrap the heat packs with a towel or cloth on an airtight container containing your hot food. Putting them directly into the food basket may not be effective in keeping your food hot.
Place Food In Car Trunk
If your car has a trunk, you could put your hot food there on a hot day to keep it safe for consumption. The flip side of this method is that it may cause food to spoil easily. It is also not effective in cold seasons or in a car whose trunk doesn’t heat up.
If you have newspapers or other clean pacers that are not useful in the house, you can use them to wrap around your food containers. It is an effective way of maintaining your food hot for a short period.
Use Warm Clothing
You can use a warmed soft fabric material to wrap your food container. You can preheat the cloth in a warmer to keep your food hot.
Why keep Food Hot
Food stored at room temperature is not safe for consumption. For instance, foods such as chicken, meat, and rice can harbor salmonella, a bacteria that causes food poisoning. Signs of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, hives, swelling of the tongue and lips, and in severe cases, convulsions.
Avoid eating food that has been stored at room temperature for more than two hours in cool seasons or one hour in hot weather. You should heat food to a minimum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
In conclusion, one should always strive to eat hot food at home or while traveling. It could be hard to keep hot food while on the go, but the above methods could help you maintain your dish’s temperature for a reasonable period of time.