Carrying Fresh Food On A Bike Tour
How do you manage to keep your food fresh? If you buy some meat or eggs, for example, how do you keep them cool? Maybe you buy fresh things just before you cook? -Denise
The short answer is that most things will keep much longer outside of a fridge than you probably think. Unless it’s a blazing hot summer day, there’s little (aside from fresh meat and milk) that won’t keep for 6-8 hours in your panniers. You certainly don’t need to resort to expensive, freeze-dried meals for bike touring.
Most vegetables will last at least 2 days in your panniers and many hardy fruits, vegetables, dried and cured foods will easily withstand several days of travel – especially if you pack them deep inside the bags, far from direct sunlight.
Foods that travel well include:
Some things may surprise you by how well they keep outside of a fridge in normal temperatures. This Mango & Avocado salsa, for example, is made from ingredients that would easily travel well for 2-3 days.
Eggs are another example. They’re sold refrigerated in North America, leading many of us to believe that they must be kept cool. In Europe and many other places worldwide, however, eggs are routinely kept on normal shelves at room temperature (here’s why). We’ve also found that salted butter keeps just fine for 5-7 days, even in hotter climates. We do keep it in a screw-top jar to prevent spills (in case it melts a bit during the day).
Other tips for storing food on a bike tour include:
- Buy produce that is almost (but not quite) ripe. By the time it bounces around on your bike for a day or two, it’ll be perfect.
- Don’t wash or prepare the food until you’re ready to eat it. This speeds up spoilage.
- Use paper bags or mesh fabric bags to store fresh food, rather than plastic. Produce needs to be able to breathe.
- Store delicate food like tomatoes and bananas inside a pot or other hard container, to prevent bruising.
- If you really want fresh meat and you’re worried about it going bad before the end of the day, buy something frozen as well, such as a small bag of frozen peas. Then you can use the peas as an ‘ice pack’ to keep the meat cool.
- Carry a small insulated bag to keep fresh things cooler for longer.
Want more food inspiration? See some of our favourite bike touring recipes.