Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How do you keep your food cold?

Most teardrop trailers do not have the luxury of a full refrigerator. With limited galley space, most teardroppers rely on ice coolers and sometimes 12-volt portable coolers to keep their beer and steaks cold. There are several different ways to keep your food cold if you own a teardrop trailer and there are advantages and disadvantages to both of them.


So far, my husband and I have only used a regular cooler filled with ice to keep our food cold. We previously had a Coleman, but we've since upgraded to a "bear proof" and lockable cooler since we tend to camp in hungry bear territory. The advantages of this way of storing cold food is that these coolers don't use power and keep ice cold for at least 2-3 days depending on the outside air temperature. The disadvantages are that every 2-3 days we have to go hunting for ice which can sometimes run about $3-$7 a bag. On our next big trip, we are going to try to use dry ice. Another disadvantage to our particular teardrop design is that the galley does not have space for the cooler, so we have to keep it outside of the teardrop, and in bear territory, that means having to pack it away in the car at night or when we leave our site. All that lifting is hard on the back.



One thing that we have done with our cooler to keep melted ice from mixing with our food is to separate the food from the ice with a clear, plastic storage bin. We bring the bin into the house and fill it with our food and then carry it out to the cooler, place it inside and then pack the ice around it. The ice and the food stay separate and we can also use that clean ice for our margaritas.


Another tip I've seen from teardroppers is to line the sides and the top of your cooler with a reflective, insulation. These are sometimes called radiant barriers or bubble foil and are sold in rolls that you can cut to the size of your cooler.



Some teardroppers are lucky to have enough space in their galley to hold a small 12-volt cooler. These types of coolers can run off the teardrop or car battery or can be hooked up to a solar panel on the roof of the trailer. There is no need to buy ice and the cooler keeps food at a consistently 36 degree temperature. The disadvantage is that these types of coolers are pretty small (about 15-17 liters) and some food will need to be frozen or cooled before putting them into the 12-volt cooler. Also, if you are camping for a long time, you may need to have access to campground power to make sure your battery does not get drained.


5 comments:

  1. Looks like john b's gallry! When using a contanier inside your ice chest, does the food in the middle of the contanier get warm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it is! I took that photo at the Twain n' Tears Gathering in Nevada. Surprisingly, all the food in the box stays fairly cool. We try to pack it so that the items that need to stay really cold (milk, meat, cheese) are on the bottom or edges. Those items then tend to keep the middle items cool.

      Delete
  2. Hi Christina. I've been following your blog for about a year now - I really enjoy it! I'm not a teardropper (yet). We've rented one once and will again this September. We're hoping to buy in the spring in time for next year's camping season. Anyway, I have a question about the 12V coolers. We already own one and at first I thought it would work perfectly with our (future) teardrop; however, I've been thinking about the venting system. Travelling with it in the galley and having to close the galley at night, I'm pretty sure I'll have to unplug it, making it useless. Maybe the built-in fridges sold with some teardrops have a workaround. Just wondering if you happen to know anything about this. (Sorry for posting a comment on an old blog entry - hope that's okay!) Thanks, Sonja.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Chris and Sonja. Thank you for the comment. I don't have any experience with 12V refrigerators, but I have seen fellow teardroppers with them in their trailer galley or in the back of their car. In back of the car, venting does not seem to be an issue, but with the small space of a galley—I can see the issue. I have heard of people running a small, low volt fan to keep the galley and fridge motor cool. My galley has two small vents for use with the interior fan, but your future teardrop may need additional vents for the galley in the hatch or on the sides of the trailer. It may also depend on the size of your galley, the type of fridge and the space allocated for the fridge. Have you posted your question on the teardrop forum? (tnttt.com) There are several posts there about the pros and cons of various refrigerators, but someone who has a 12V fridge might be able to guide you along.

      Delete
    2. Thanks very much! Good ideas about the galley vents and fan. And I will definitely search through and post on tnttt.com. Thanks again!

      Delete