Summer meals simply taste better served on a paper plate when sitting at a picnic table. From family cookouts to camping adventures, to picnics in the park – this is the season for outdoor cooking. Wood fires have been the traditional way of outdoor cooking for thousands of years, but today we have heat sources like charcoal barbeques, propane grills, camping stoves, and a wide range of other cooking options available.
There are unique techniques and responsibilities for outdoor cooking. Be sure to educate yourself on safe food preparations by visiting reputable sites for comprehensive guidelines. Here are seven tips our team has compiled to help make outdoor cooking a breeze this summer:
- If traveling to a park or campsite, don’t forget to pack sanitizing wipes, appropriate cookware, heat-resistant utensils, cooking thermometer, and aluminum foil along with your favorite condiments and prepared food items.
- Clean and pre-cut all vegetables, fruits, and meats at home before you leave. Sufficiently pack with ice in coolers to keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
- Be sure your grill or campfire is the appropriate distance away from any buildings, trees, foliage, or potential fire hazards.
- If grilling, always starts with a clean grill to avoid bacterial issues. Consider using foil to provide a clean surface and to prevent the build-up of food or grease.
- For campfires, allow any hot coals and wood logs to burn down at least 30 minutes to optimal conditions before beginning the cooking process.
- Always follow a cookbook or reputable website for appropriate cooking temperatures and times. Use a thermometer and timer when grilling. Avoid grilling meats and fish above 300ºF because health experts suggest higher temperatures could release carcinogens.
- For healthier results, allow fat to drip off the meat during the grilling process and trim off any noticeable fat after the cooking process.
Choosing Nutritious Foods
If you’re a health-conscious person, you’ll also want to consider calories and fat when choosing foods. As an alternative to traditional hot-dogs, ribs, or burgers — consider grilling lean proteins like skinless chicken, turkey, sirloin, pork tenderloin, or seasoned tofu. Of course, seafood is always a great grilling choice, such as salmon, swordfish, sea bass, tuna, grouper, mahi-mahi, or snapper. [SEE HOW TO EAT FRESH THIS SUMMER]