Making the most out of the fridge

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:06
ThreadID: 119310 Views:3274 Replies:11 FollowUps:5
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Hi all, I am sure several of you will have some top tips to resolve my problem.
For many years we have camped with a 60L engel which had a fridge compartment and separate freezer section. This suited our needs very well at the time. Our camping style has now changed and so we have recently moved to a smaller 40l engel which is all fridge or all freezer=no compartments.
My concern is how to pack it so that we can take away some frozen meat/meals and still keep the cheese, milk, ham in good order? I'm talking about packing for a 3 day weekend. If we go on long trips I'm happy to use it just as a freezer and take an esky along. For a weekender though- I'm keen to just take the engel. Your thoughts are most welcome.doc
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Reply By: Member - Bigred13 - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:33

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:33
Hi Oz Doc , I have not used ours in that way only all freezer or all fridge , but I have often thought about lining the area you want for fridge with a few layers of cardboard to keep the cooling coils away from the food ,may need to set a thermometer in the middle somehow to check the temp .Kogan has some for sale at $5 now ,would be interested to hear others on this subject ,and I will try it next time I use mine .
AnswerID: 556408

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:35

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:35
Funny that you've posted this, Doc. We are camped at Granite Gorge, near Mareeba, and I've just taken some steak and snags out for tea tonight.

Have a 40L Engel, and I've had it set on just over "1" for this trip. Put 4 pieces of rib fillet and 6 snags on the bottom of the fridge on Tues arvo, and removed them today (Sat) about 1pm. The steaks are still frozen and the snags are frozen, but not solid. Due to me travelling alone this trip, and the fridge wasn't packed by Herself, I also froze a couple of carrots. :-(

A couple of 1L UHT milk packs on the bottom didn't get frozen.

From previous comments on this subject on EO, it is best to place the frozen items at the bottom, then cover them with a piece of cardboard or foam, and put the fresh stuff above.


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AnswerID: 556409

Follow Up By: oz doc - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:42

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 14:42
Ta Bob. Wasn't sure if packing the froz stuff at bottom was best or packing vertically against the compressor side and putting a foam divider between froz and fridge stuff. Wondering if a layer of bubble wrap would prevent the frozen carrot issue. I guess if I'd done more homework I would have found that you can get 40 L fridges with two fixed fridge/freezer compartments before I bought this one. doc.
FollowupID: 842580

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 23:40

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 23:40
I tried that once oz doc, with the divider upright and the frozen stuff against the compressor. I used a bit of cardboard as a divider but thought polyfoam would be better and worth a try. I think it had potential.

I never got any further with experimenting because we bought a camper and put an upright Engel fridge in it. We now have a caravan with single door fridge that has an internal freezer box which is not satisfactory for longer term storage. We ended up with two Engels so one usually stays in the car for lunches and the other under the caravan bed where it can be used as a freezer or extra fridge if needed.


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Reply By: George_M - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 16:09

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 16:09
oz doc

When we travel for any length of time (over three or four days) we use our 40L Engel exclusively as a freezer.

We also carry a six-pack cooler for butter, cheese, dips, etc. We keep the stuff in the six-pack cooler cool, but not frozen, by using a freezer block - the ones that fit neatly into the top of the six-pack cooler, and about 2cm thick.

We keep another freezer block in the Engel, and swap them over every day.

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AnswerID: 556411

Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 16:40

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 16:40
We run a 35 litre Waeco and like Bob Y we keep frozen stuff on the bottom. There is a temperature gradient from bottom to top and I would expect your Engle to be the same. The zone for 5 or 6 cm above the bottom will keep food frozen with the centre zone at 3 or 4 degrees and the top zone a bit warmer which suits stuff like butter and greens.

We do not place any insulation over the top of the frozen food as there is no cooling below (in the floor) and the cooling of this zone depends on the chilled air from above descending down to the frozen food.

It all works fine for us for a few weeks on long remote treks. Two fridges or a larger fridge would be nice but we have no space to spare.

Incidentally, the fridge evaporator (cooling plates) surround all four walls so the area nearest the compressor will be no cooler than any other wall.

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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:25

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 17:25
Same, same as Allan.

Frozen stuff on the bottom with no insulation in between. I generally freeze everything rock solid in the house deep freezer for a few days/week before packing.

If I run the 40, all the frozen goes on the bottom. If I take the 60 I pack up one side with frozen and the other with fresh. Just be careful what touches the frozen stuff as it will get 'bruised' 'frozen' or 'mushy' not sure which. Tomatoes particularly bad for it.

I usually get 4-5 days solid frozen, then it starts to thaw. It is still markedly colder than the fresh stuff up to 8 days out. The more frozen I have, the longer it lasts.

I also use insulated travel bags for the fridges and have the rear section of the landcruiser blanked out with good insulation on the windows. When stopped, I leave the front windows down about an inch to stop hot air build up in the car. Also park in the shade where possible. I have never taken my fridges out of the vehicle when travelling.


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Reply By: noggins - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 20:37

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 20:37
We have a basket with a well fitted pad of foam insulation that sits just below it with the zip ties. The frozen goes on the bottom and is usually set at about -5or less.
The chilled go in the basket and as the styrene pad insulates the below from the top the top 1/3 of the chilling surround plates just manage to keep everything OK.
I've kept food this way for over 2 weeks.

For defrosting on the road , as well as chilling the throat oil, I have one of those 2 way Console Koolers , put the cans of the oil in and put the wanted defrosting stuff on top.

When we pull up she has well defrosted stuff and I have a can or 2 ( or more) of throat oil to assist in advising on how to cook it.

I'm usually told to "Pissorf"
so all's good .

P.s Made a mistake once and plugged it into "Heat"
Nearly burnt my hand and almost cried when the stubby had to be chucked. ( hot beer is NOT a fav of mine)

AnswerID: 556420

Follow Up By: oz doc - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 16:10

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 16:10
Hi Noggins, I do have one of those console coolers around somewhere. I haven't really embraced it as I thought it wouldn't do much of a cooling job and had the impression that they really suck the power. Might need to have a play around with it. doc.
FollowupID: 842629

Reply By: vk1dx - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 21:19

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 21:19
Maybe not the best answer for you but on long trips weeks or more, we have a 40 Lt as a fridge and mount a smaller 20 Lt as a freezer. That can do us for three weeks or more. for two people. But we also have three batteries under the bonnet. One for cranking and two for accessories such as fridges etc. A Redarc isolator lets us put all three together as one bank. Did three of us for the whole Canning. Nothing like an ice block at Poepells Corner in 40 degrees!!! Ahhh Roughing it.

AnswerID: 556421

Reply By: steved58 - Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 23:26

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015 at 23:26
Hi used to do all of the above now only use fridge as a fridge and vac pack all the food we previously were taking frozen except for ice cream of course this works extremely well vacuum packing equipment easily available and most butchers will vac pack for you if on extended trips I went from a 80 litre fridge / freezer to a 40 litre fridge by doing this best thing I have done
Cheers steve
AnswerID: 556428

Follow Up By: oz doc - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 16:16

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 16:16
Hi Steve, we have a cryovac machine thing however it doesn't seem to like doing foods with liquids- eg curries, marinated meats. Would be good for the steaks though. I might need to look up how long various foods keep when cryovacced. ta , doc
FollowupID: 842631

Reply By: Slow one - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 05:45

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 05:45
We have been using our 40l Trailblaza as a fridge freezer for many years by placing a barrier board above the frozen items on the bottom.

I use tupperware type containers, which are about 60mm high and fit perfectly side by side in the available space. I can go single layer or 2 layers high and just adjust the temp slightly. When the content of the containers have been used the container is cleaned and goes back into the fridge where it came from.

Between the frozen and non frozen products above, I place a barrier board which sits on top of the containers. It is just a piece of varnished mdf with a couple of finger holes.

Lettuce/cucumber/tomato's and the like go into a plastic container and sit just under the lid of the fridge. This can be achieved by using packers under the salad container, an example is other non frozen food (cheese, ham or the like that don't mind it being a bit colder). Again they are in a plastic container.

All the containers are chosen to fit into the available area so they don't waste space.

Bottom stays rock hard, next layer just above freezing and the top layer I guess around 5C as it keeps very well.

You just have to adjust the fridge temp for the ambient temp outside, I have no problem doing this and might adjust my fridges thermostat between 3.5 and 4.5 on the dial. You would have to experiment with yours.

AnswerID: 556430

Reply By: oz doc - Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 16:08

Sunday, Jun 28, 2015 at 16:08
Hi all, thanks for the replies. Some fantastic ideas there. Might do a bit of experimenting with a basket up top and frozen down bottom and see how long things stay frozen and what temp number is best to run the fridge on. Cheers, doc.
AnswerID: 556452

Reply By: Grizzle - Monday, Jun 29, 2015 at 12:28

Monday, Jun 29, 2015 at 12:28
I use a cheap white plastic chopping board trimmed to fit.

Put your frozen stuff in the bottom of the fridge, sit the chopping board on top then put your other food on top. This works really well.

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AnswerID: 556485

Reply By: Shaker - Monday, Jun 29, 2015 at 14:24

Monday, Jun 29, 2015 at 14:24
Engel now have a 40 litre dual compartment fridge/freezer.

AnswerID: 556488

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