Five tips for packing a gourmet cooler for your 4th of July picnic
Image via Rubbermaid
Nothing dampens the mood of a picnic more than wilted salads, dirty ice, and smashed sandwiches. Unfortunately, that is often what we find when we open our carefuly packed coolers.
It doesn't have to be this way. This 4th of July can be different! Tired of bringing the same boring sandwiches and having a messy cooler, I decided to research how professional food packers transport their food and look for different recipes from chefs to change the menu. I came out with great ideas and suggestions. Here are the most important ones so this holiday is one to the history books, not only for the fireworks, but for the amazing food you all had!
1. Choose sweet snacks already packed in individual containers. Yogurt (good to mix with fruits), jello (jelly shots if you are feeling daring), rice pudding, and any other prepacked dessert. Those are great because they don't need to be ice cold like ice cream.
2. Let your ice multitask. Yes, use your ice to keep your food and drinks cool inside the ice chest, but you can also use it to keep your drinks cold once you pour them. Don't take all the ice out of the bag. Keep some in it for your cocktails and sodas. Few things are as frustrating as finding the ice in the cooler filled with sand of dirt from unwashed soda cans.
3. Different fillings for your sandwiches. Slices of grilled chicken, smoked salmon, prosciutto, alfalfa sprouts, spinach, watercress, basil. These are some of the different ingredients we can use in our gourmet picnic. The bread, previously cut should go in a bag outside the cooler. Substitute the typical sliced bread for Portuguese rolls or baguettes to change things up a bit.
4. The right fruit will never fail you: Precut slices and cubes of pineapple, papaya, water melon and mangoes and put them in containers with lids. To reduce the amount of prep-work you can also bring strawberries, grapes, kiwis, clementines, and peaches.
5. Corkless wine: Nothing beats a white fruity wine for a picnic in hot weather. Chose a twist top bottle. It will not only be easier to open, but it will save you the stress of remembering to bring the corkscrew. You can also bring a bubbling wine like champagne or a Spanish cava. Just remember to put the bottles lying down against one of the walls of the cooler.
To pack, use the same technique you would when you make a lasagna: Layering. Use the ice to your advantage. Make sure all your containers are not leaking. Start with a layer of ice, then drinks, more ice, more drinks and the food in the top. Don't forget plates and utensils and bring a large beach blanket, so you can spread the goodies and everybody can pick what they like. You can also put the sunscreen and moisturizer cream in the cooler. They will feel great when you apply them again your skin.
Have fun and happy 4th!