Heading to the markets on the weekend is always a treat for the whole family, there’s a great selection of stalls and stands offering all sorts of delicious foods and beverages, from sweetly, sticky donuts to cool, refreshing lemonade. But what keeps these goodies in perfect condition when serving? What stops them from melting all over the place or being served warm when they’re supposed to be cold? Whether you are a restaurant owner hoping to gain a larger customer base; a regular local market vendor; or, a cooking enthusiast who enjoys the outdoors and serving your favourite recipes, in this post we share a quick guide to refrigeration for outdoor festivals and events.
Refrigeration solution for weekend markets and other outdoor events
Refrigeration can substantially reduce the rate at which food will deteriorate, especially useful for outdoor events are mobile cool rooms and refrigerated trucks. Here are some refrigeration tips:
- Place your mobile cold room or refrigerated truck near to where you will be cooking and serving.
- Make sure to check the temperature periodically.
- Keep the door of the refrigerated area open for the shortest possible time.
- Dispose of any soiled food. Putting in the cold part of a refrigerator will not stop it from deteriorating further.
- Cover all cooked foods and when practical store them on a shelf above the uncooked foods. This minimises the risk of food poisoning (where uncooked food drips onto cooked food).
- Foods with strong odours, such as seafood and cheese, should be wrapped and you should avoid storing them for long periods near food such as milk and cream which can easily be affected by these.
- The ‘best before’ / ‘use by’ dates are the best guide to storage life of a particular perishable item. However, it’s only useful if the item was stored correctly before you bought it.
Raw meat, poultry and seafoods
- These items should be stored in the coldest part of the cold room. Wrapped fresh meat can be kept safely for up to three days and unwrapped fresh meat up to five days at cold temperatures (0 to 3 degrees Celsius).
- Fresh whole fish should be gutted and washed if it is to be stored for more than 24 hours.
Cooked meat, poultry and seafoods
- Meat, poultry and seafoods must be refrigerated as soon as possible after cooking (if not intended to be eaten straight away).
- To avoid condensation, do not cover hot meat pieces before refrigerating. Place them uncovered in the refrigerator until they are cool, then cover the container or wrap the meat tightly with cling wrap.
Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Most fresh produce is temperature sensitive and should be stored in the coolest part of the house when refrigerated space is not available. Some produce, particularly those from the tropics, such as pineapple and bananas, are chill sensitive and should not be stored in the refrigerator.
- To reduce shrivelling or wilting due to water loss, keep leafy and root vegetables, such as silverbeet, broccoli, carrots and parsnips, in perforated plastic bags, preferably in the cold room.
- Keep potatoes in a cool, dark, well ventilated place to avoid greening and sprouting; remove from plastic bags and place in a strong paper bag, box or in a wire or plastic bin. Sweet potatoes are cold sensitive and should not be kept in the fridge.
- Keep nectarines, peaches and plums in the cold room, unless you want to ripen them. Pears are best kept in the cold. They keep well green and hard. Store at room temperature to ripen them.