July 29, 2013 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Prepping a car camping trip. I never take pork or chicken when camping in an effort to respect food-handling volatility guidelines. I do, however, ignore those same guidelines with respect to eggs and bacon (bacon is preserved and, well, eggs must be served with bacon at breakfast when camping). I have been requested to bring 'fresh prawns' to grill. There is no water onsite and there will be no temperature-assured cold storage, but we will have an ice chest with other cold-dependent consumables in it such as the eggs. The campsite is in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and averages daily/nightly high-lows of 72/52 at this time of year. Cursory research appears to establish that prawns are in the same set of volatile meats that pork, chicken and crab belong to. It may be reasonable to source and bring hard-frozen prawns and cook them from semi-thawed. Departure to campsite expected drive time about five hours; departure to food consumption expected out-of-fridge storage time estimated nine to twelve hours. I am leaning toward saying no to the request. Hive mind, your analysis please.
posted by mwhybark to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is for the first night? 12 hours should be no problem to keep these guys just as cold as they'd be in the fridge, assuming they're nestled in solid ice and the cooler is cold.
posted by ftm at 4:40 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Live prawns don't need ice. And none fresher.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:45 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

I'd totally do this. Use frozen prawns and make sure the cooler is packed full of other cold stuff and ice. Keep the prawns on ice, fill cooler with extra ice (fill empty juice bottles or milk containers) if space permits.
posted by Cuke at 4:45 PM on July 29, 2013

As ftm mentions, you should be fine holding these in the cooler. As seanmpuckett says, live would absolutely be best. If you are really paranoid, though (or want to bring one of the meats you're paranoid about), you can pre-cook and pasteurize the foods by cooking them sous vide.

I am assuming you do not own an immersion circulator. Take a look at beer cooler sous vide.

In the case of prawns, cook the prawns at 140 for 30 minutes to pasteurize them. Do this as close to departure as possible. Drop them in an ice bath immediately. Put some water in the bottom of your cooler and let them live in that ice bath on the way up. Once you get up there, remove them from packaging, blot dry with paper towels, and allow to sit long enough to come close to ambient temperature. Get your grill/campfire _very_ hot, and use it to just put a char on the prawns.

Do some searching on the web and you can readily find pasteurization times for pork and chicken.
posted by bfranklin at 4:47 PM on July 29, 2013

Best answer: My mother does this by lining the shrimp up in the bottom of a baggie, covering them with water, and freezing them into blocks of shrimp ice.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:47 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

The first day? And you have an ice chest? I would do this without blinking, unless you have a weird and crappy ice chest that won't keep things at least refrigerator-cold overnight.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:48 PM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'd do it.

When I get a bag of frozen prawns for barbies, they take your 9-12 hours to thaw in the fridge. I reckon in an esky with ice would be about the same.
posted by pompomtom at 4:48 PM on July 29, 2013

Also, block ice (frozen Tupperware containers full of water etc.) will last far longer than dumping a bag of ice in a cooler. If you must use purchased bagged ice, find the bag that looks the least broken-up.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:49 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take some empty soft drink bottles, clean them, fill not quite full with water, freeze. (If you squeeze them, and put on the lid, they'll expand to normal when frozen.) Use several of these in the cooler for keeping the shrimps fresh. Bonus - fresh water to drink - some camgrounds have heavily chlorinated water. They should be just fine in a cooler with plenty of ice.
posted by theora55 at 5:17 PM on July 29, 2013

Buy a block of dry ice to keep them cold? It's like -80 C or so.
posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2013

This past Saturday evening, my tenacious crew consumed freshly-harvested Penn Cove mussels along the shores of a glacier-fed lake in the North Cascades; so yes, your menu item is certainly feasible (and highly recommended). We froze a case of Arrowhead water (24 10oz bottles) and then housed the mussels in a standard Igloo cooler lined with the bottles. Our design comprised a floor of bottle placed horizontally along the bottom, with the bagged mussels placed on the foundation; sides comprised of vertically stacked bottles, and then a 'roof' comprised of two frozen ice packs. We checked the batch every few hours to ensure they didn't freeze, which was the main concern. Absolutely no problems whatsoever--the beauty of frozen bottles is the lack of ice melt that can infiltrate your edibles, and the ability to use the bottles as ice packs when you faceplant over a stump while fetching a beer in the pitch blackness of night (your secondary benefits may vary).
posted by prinado at 6:40 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would pack fresh or frozen prawns in a cooler with ice and cook/eat them with zero hesitation.
posted by HMSSM at 6:44 PM on July 29, 2013

I wouldn't worry about it at all if you have an ice chest, but if you're really concerned, try and get a five-pound frozen block instead of the usual individually quick frozen. This is the way supermarkets and restaurants get shrimp - if you ask at the fish counter of your supermarket or a fish market they should be able to hook you up, if five pounds isn't way way too much. The blocks take FOREVER to defrost.

(Also when I used to work in a fish market on busy days we would totally keep shrimp in an ice chest out in back of the store on busy days when we didn't have room in the walk-in - that was usually at Christmas, though, so colder.)
posted by mskyle at 7:27 PM on July 29, 2013

If this is the for the first night and you keep the shrimp in a cooler with ice all day, I'd be pretty surprised if the shrimp were even thawed by the time you got around to cooking them, never mind thawed and warmed up to the point where they might be dangerous.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:38 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, frozen bottles all the way. Going with the own-freeze route I think. Central Market in Shoreline has peeled and frozen prawns in their bulk bins and will have non-frozen out to inspect as well and they are the closest to me, so I will start there.

bfranklin, I love the suggestion, but not at this time.
posted by mwhybark at 11:44 PM on July 29, 2013

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