One of the best parts of Munich in the summer is that the temperatures lend themselves to perfect picnic days and long evenings for a BBQ. It is always a feeling of freedom, grabbing your picnic blanket and heading off to have a picnic or BBQ with family and friends in the sun. A day spent by the lake or in the park is much more pleasant with your favorite homemade dishes to share. Of course with summer comes the heat and unfortunately heat/sun and various foods do not mix. Below are some guidelines to ensure that you and your family stay safe from food-borne bacteria. Now some people might say that they’ve eaten food that has been sitting out all day at a picnic and never gotten sick. And this could be true, eating food that has been sitting out doesn’t guarantee you’ll get sick but it does increase your chances of it. Some bacteria may take up to a week before affecting a person.
The first thing is to take a look at temperature. The outside air temperature makes a difference when you are dealing with food. When the temperature reaches 32°C perishable food shouldn’t be left out for more than one hour. Under that food can safely be out for about two hours before bacteria starts to grow at a more rapid pace. It’s best if all foods are not directly left in the sun, sometimes this is unavoidable but care should be taken with “cold foods” and some cut up fruits and cheeses. In general most foods should be served below 4°C (cold foods) or above 60°C (hot foods) to avoid the “Danger Zone.” The danger zone is when foods are kept out between these two temperatures. Below you’ll find more information on both safe temperatures of storing and cooking different types of foods.
If you know you’ll be going to a picnic, ensure that you have a cooler or ice chest to store your foods properly. Keeping foods cold requires ice packs. Freezing bottles of water is an effective and inexpensive method to help keep things cool for longer. I like to add mint and lemon wedges before freezing. The bonus is that after they have done their job keeping things cool you can enjoy some refreshing spa water and stay hydrated in the sun. Keep the cooler closed until you need the food to keep everything as cool as possible. You may want to consider bringing a separate cooler for drinks and place the cooler in the shade upon arrival.
Prepare Foods Correctly
Hot foods: Investing in a meat thermometer is a wise decision, as cooking meat to its proper temperature is important to ensure there is no growth of bacteria. When transporting raw meat, make certain that it is wrapped appropriately so no juices come into contact with other foods and that it stays cold in the cooler >4°C (Side note: If you are marinating your meat prior to the picnic do so in the fridge and never on the counter. Also, if you are planning on using some of the marinade after the meat is finished cooking, set some aside before marinating the rest. Never use the marinade which the raw meat was sitting in.) When grilling it’s best to keep the finished food hot (above
60°C) by moving it to the side of the grill out of the direct heat source until ready to eat. Here is a link for safe minimum internal cooking temperatures and another table below.
High Heat Cooking Internal
Dense Veggies: Corn/Sweet Potato
Until cooked to taste
Medium Heat Cooking
Delicate Fruit/Veggies: Aubergine, Zucchini, Pineapple
Until cooked to taste
Foods should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature to ensure food-borne bacteria are not an issue. Never use the same plate/platter that previously held raw meat. The same goes for utensils, these should be washed before using on finished food to prevent cross contamination.
Cold Foods: When making a pasta, bean, green, chicken (insert your favorite picnic salad here) salad ensure that it kept cool before serving. If a salad contains meat (chicken/tuna) it should ideally be kept on a bed of ice while serving, which will increase the time it can safely be left out. All raw meat, eggs, and soft cheeses should be kept in a cooler until ready to be served.
Other foods: – Most fruits and vegetables do not spoil. Avocado, Cucumbers, Radishes can all be cut on site for consumption and are healthy additions to any picnic.
– A vegetable tray or even marinated vegetables like artichoke hearts or pickles are also a great way to incorporate more of the rainbow (antioxidants) into your picnic. -Apple slices can be tossed with lemon juice to prevent oxidation can be served with whole apricots on a board with a sliced hard salami and aged cheeses with little moisture such as a parmesan or pecorino. -Making fruit skewers out of grapes, strawberries and blueberries is a great tasting dessert. -A nut mix can easily be made with banana chips and coconut and your favorite raw nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.) -Jars of olives or other marinated vegetables (sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts,etc) are all safe items to add to any picnic. -A note on Watermelon: Keeping watermelon chilled is important and should be stored in the refrigerator after cutting into chunks or slices. It should be put out close to consumption at a picnic and be consumed within 2 hours.
Remember to keep your food at the right temperature before serving and out of the ‘danger zone’, consume foods within 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s above 32°C.) Pack away any food that you don’t finish. It’s always a good idea to bring along a few extra trash bags in case the receptacles are full at your picnic destination and makes an easy (and non-messy) way to pack home.
Monika Bock is a holistic nutritionist based in Munich, she is the owner of Nourish-Alō Holistic Nutrition and whose motto is Nourish/Thrive/Sustain. Monika works with a diverse clientele with various health concerns and goals making changes that are both positive and sustainable over time. Her go to picnic essential in the summer is a fruit salad with watermelon, mint and feta, which is super refreshing on a hot day. Acknowledging that EveryBODY is different and people have individual needs, she addresses these needs through a whole food nutrition program and lifestyle change approach.
Are you ready to get back to being the best you? July workshops are happening now, and can be found under http://www.nourish-alo.com. Reduced rates available for members of the Übermoms group. Individual coaching packages as well as small group cooking lessons are bookable as well. Now is the right time!