So, you’re hosting an outdoor party at the height of summer and you need to keep your party food cold – but how do you do it?
If you need to keep outdoor food cold, you can start by using insulated plastic coolers, or ice baths for your beverages. You’ll need to keep food covered and in the shade to keep it fresher for longer, and only remove it from the refrigerator when it’s about to be served.
Read on to learn more about the ways in which you can keep your party food fresh and cool for longer when it’s hot outside.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
When summertime rolls around, all most people want to do is get outside, light up the barbecue, and host a party. The gleaming sunshine casts its rays over a pool or a buffet, and everyone is eating, drinking, and feeling great.
However, an outside party isn’t just centered around the barbecue, as there are plenty of other things people will be consuming. You’ll likely have a plethora of alcohol and soft drinks, salads, fruits, and sandwiches – if you want to diversify your offering, that is.
Now, the real issue here is when you start to wonder how you’ll keep all that cold party food cool in the hot summer sun. Fortunately, there are several practices you can adopt, and more than a few things you can use to keep your food and drink as cold as possible.
It doesn’t matter if you’re laying out bowls of potato salad, a mixed-leaf salad, or platters of sandwiches, they can all be cooled in relatively the same way. Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you’re only removing them from the kitchen or fridge when they’re about to be served.
Don’t leave them sitting outside under wraps for hours before the party – they’ll literally sit there and wilt, or, depending on what the food is, it could go bad. If you’ve got deviled eggs or a mayonnaise-based potato salad, the hot sun could ruin them in no time at all.
When they are outside, try and keep them in the shade, and use pre-chilled bowls and plates if you can. If you have the option, you can put bowls and plates in an ice trough, to keep them as cold as possible – at least, until the ice melts.
Furthermore, you need to break down your serving sizes, to make your food go as far as possible. Don’t throw out an enormous bowl of coleslaw, but put out smaller bowls more frequently – it won’t spoil all at once, then.
Keeping The Drinks Cool
It’s all well and good keeping your party food cool, but what about the drinks? If people turn up to your hot summertime party and are offered warm beverages, they’re not going to be best pleased, and they won’t come to the next one.
To that end, it’s important to keep your drinks as cool as possible, right alongside your party food. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a well-insulated cooler – and remind people to keep the lid closed once they’ve pulled out a drink.
Alternatively, you can use the same method you’ve adopted to cool your food and place your drinks in an ice bath. It’s advisable to use a good balance of ice and water, as just ice alone won’t be enough to keep the drinks cold on contact.
If you have a pool area, you can make things a little more exciting by purchasing inflatable buffets that float in the pool. When you stuff them full of ice, guests can lounge in the pool and wait for an inflatable bar to come wandering on by.
There’s a similar tactic to this that doesn’t need a pool, and it’s called a cooler mat – a surface specifically designed to stay cool under hot conditions. It won’t be as effective for drinks as it is for food, but it goes a little way towards keeping things cooler.
Ultimately, you should follow the same steps for drinks as you have for food, starting with the important tip of not removing everything from the refrigerator at once. If you pull all your drinks outside in one sweep, they’ll all degrade as rapidly as each other.
When they are outside, keep them sheltered and in the shade, and use coolers and ice baths wherever possible. After all, you don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on alcohol, just for it all to be ruined by the searing hot sun.