We often take eggs with us when we go camping. Some people get nervous about eggs and how to store them. But it’s easier than you think to bring them along, they are a versatile meal option, and are an egg-cellent source of protein while you are enjoying the outdoors!
Can you store eggs in a cooler? You can keep raw or cooked eggs in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. As long as the ice lasts, the cooler will keep the eggs cool (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended). It is best to keep the eggs in their shells until you are ready to use them. If the eggs are already cooked they have a shorter shelf life than if they are still in their shell. Fresh eggs (straight from the chicken) do not need to be kept in a cooler as long as you don’t wash them.
Now that we’re clear on that, here are some tips on how to store eggs in your cooler and some yummy ways to use them while camping.
How to Store Eggs in the Cooler
Keep the Cooler Cool
The US Center for Disease Control recommends storing eggs at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. They also recommend not using eggs that have been at room temp longer than 2 hours (or eggs that have been at 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more for an hour).
This means, it’s important that the cooler stays cool. Ice freezes around 32 degrees Fahrenheit and starts to melt when the temperature rises above that. So if your ice or freezer pack is still frozen, then your eggs are going to stay cool.
A few tips for helping the eggs stay cooler longer:
- Keep the eggs near the bottom of the cooler, not the top
- Keep the cooler in a shaded spot – avoid placing the cooler in full sun or keeping it in a hot car, if possible
- Limit how much you open the cooler lid. If you know people are going to be getting drinks out of the cooler every few minutes, you might consider having two coolers – one that people can access freely, and one that gets opened only during meal prep time.
Keep the Shells On
For storing eggs in a cooler, it is recommended to keep the eggs in their shells. Whatever recipe you are planning on making, do it at your campsite. Luckily eggs are not a huge hassle to prepare. You can easily peel a hard boiled egg on the spot or crack eggs when you are ready to make your scrambled eggs.
However, some camping recipes may be easier to make at home and bring prepared to heat up. Cooked eggs can be stored in a cooler as well, under the same conditions, but their shelf will be shorter. Plan to use pre-cooked egg items within the first day or two of your trip.
Don’t Break the Eggs
They key, as always with eggs, is not to break them! Depending on how many eggs you need and how big your cooler is you can store the eggs in their original carton or transfer them to a tupperware or similar container. Both of these will protect them in the cooler from being squished and cracked.
When I camp, it’s usually just my husband and I, so I never take more than 4 eggs. I often store them in a tupperware, and I find this provides a natural place for breaking and scrambling the eggs.
Use Them Sooner Than Later
Be aware of how long your cooler can maintain an acceptable temperature for the eggs. If ice starts to melt after 24 hours in your cooler – use the eggs within the first 24 hours of your trip. If your cooler can keep ice frozen for a few days, then use the eggs within that time frame. The state of the ice will clue you in to the temperature (remember ice starts to melt when it gets above 32 degrees Fahrenheit).
Fresh vs Store Bought Eggs
As I mentioned before, fresh eggs (straight from the chicken) do not need to be refrigerated. So if you happen to snag some fresh eggs for your camping trip, storing the eggs and keeping the eggs isn’t an issue.
Store bought eggs, on the other hand, must be refrigerated and remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The reason for this is that store bought eggs have been washed and sanitized (removing a natural protective layer from the shell). This washing results in the egg shell being porous and more susceptible to contamination if not kept refrigerated.
Fresh eggs (that are unwashed) retain their protective layer and therefore do not need to be refrigerated.
Perhaps this all still seems too risky or outside your realm of camping prowess. Don’t worry, you can still cook with eggs while camping by using powdered eggs. Powdered eggs do not need to be refrigerated and there’s no fear of breaking them! They can be rehydrated by adding water and then used to make scrambled eggs, etc.
Or they can be used in baking without being rehydrated (just adding the powder to your recipe). This can be useful during camping if you plan to make something with eggs in it like pancakes, or a dutch oven cake.
Why Take Eggs Camping?
Camping and being outdoors all day is generally an active experience and can use up a lot of energy. Eggs can be a great addition to your camping diet to supply your body with protein and energy. They can beef up a meal, or provide a satisfying snack.
That’s another reason eggs are so great: they are versatile. There is a variety of ways to prepare and eat them, and they can be eaten alone, or compliment any number of dishes. And they are delicious at any time of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack-time!
Camping Meals Using Eggs
Here are some suggestions on how to use eggs in your camp cooking:
These are so handy while camping. They can be paired with toast, eaten in place of scrambled eggs, made into a sandwich, added to a salad, or eaten by themselves as a snack.
I do recommend boiling them at home and bringing them ready to go – it’ll save you that much time and effort while camping.
Egg Salad Sandwiches: You can find an egg salad sandwich recipe anywhere, but The Spicy Apron has a simple recipe for camping here. She makes the egg salad at home, but you could also easily make it at your campsite.
Cobb Salad: Eating a cobb salad while camping might make you feel sophisticated and seem too fancy, but a salad is relatively easy to throw together (if you’ve prepped most of the ingredients at home). Jessica Gavin has a fairly simple recipe that would work for camping.
Make it easy by boiling the eggs, chopping the lettuce and tomatoes, and mixing the dressing at home. Even better, use store bought dressing. And decide if you want to cook the bacon and chicken at home or at the campsite. Cooking the chicken in a foil packet in the fire would make this a throw-together dinner.
Ahh, scrambled eggs. These are such a staple of American breakfast cuisine. They are delicious with pancakes, biscuits, ham, bacon, with vegetables, in a tortilla – the options are endless.
And, fortunately, they aren’t too difficult to make. If you cook them over a camp stove it’ll be just like cooking them at home. If you are cooking them over a fire it may take a little practice. One tip is to cook the eggs last when your pan is nice and hot, and to remove the pan from the heat. This can help you avoid burning the eggs.
Breakfast Burritos: These can be made ahead or made at the campsite. Taste and Tell has a great recipe for making them ahead.
Breakfast Tacos: If you’re not from Texas you might not know what a breakfast taco is. And, yes, they ARE different from breakfast burritos. They’re delicious, really. Braised and Burnt looks like he makes them just the way I like them, with crispy bacon! Check out his camping recipe. For a yummy veggie option, here’s Amanda Outside’s recipe.
Though not as easy as scrambled eggs, you don’t have to be a seasoned chef to make fried eggs. As long as you have your frying pan and a little oil or butter, you can fry an egg.
Egg-In-a-Hole: This recipe from The Pioneer Woman looks like a cinch! And you can cook your eggs and toast your bread all at the same time, which is so useful when camping.
Eggs Other Ways
There are a lot of ways to cook with eggs. Here are a few more recipes that use eggs in other ways and are still reasonable and delicious camping options.
Omelettes: People are sold on the idea of making an omelette in a bag while camping. Fav Family Recipes has an easy to follow recipe for camping omelettes in a bag – including great filling suggestions. You can, of course, make omelettes the traditional way while camping, but most people find the bag method much easier.
Ramen with an Egg: Ramen is one of the easiest things to make ever! Fancy it up by adding an egg and veggies, as shown in this Instructable.
French Toast: Fresh Off the Grid has some great recipes for this breakfast favorite. Check out their camping french toast recipe and their french toast sticks recipe. There’s also a make-ahead, campfire method that you can see here from This Lil Piglet.
Frittata: Frittata’s are fancy and filling, but surprisingly simple.The Year in Food has a great recipe for a campfire frittata.
What kind of cooler should I use for camping? The most common type of cooler are the plastic insulated hard coolers. These range in quality and size, but do a pretty good job at keeping things cool. You can also get a cheap Styrofoam cooler, this will get the job done, but probably won’t maintain it’s temperature as long, and also isn’t as durable. There’s also the insulated cooler bag. These can be smaller in size and more expensive, but still boast of keeping things cool for 24 hours.
Where can I buy fresh eggs that don’t need to be refrigerated? First, I’d ask around to see if you know anyone who owns chickens – maybe they’d let you buy fresh eggs from them! If you don’t know anyone personally who sells eggs, you can ask around, visit a farmer’s market, keep your eyes open when driving down country roads for ‘Eggs For Sale’ signs, maybe check your local 4H club, and, of course, do a google search for fresh local eggs in your area.