By Rick Story
Omelets – Eggs, tomatoes, red or green peppers, mushrooms, cheese (any type)
Other - Cold cereal - Add dried milk with water and dried fruit
Cheater Eater- Potato Buds, dried peas and ham or chicken with Parmesan & olive oil.
Pasta Sauces - Just add pasta here…
Black Bean Soup - 2 Cups of dried cooked black beans, 2 bouillon
cubes, dried minced onion, cumin, Garlic powder, dried green or red
peppers, 1 tsp of olive oil, chili powder. (Serves 2)
T-Day Special - Stovetop Stuffing mix, chicken, dried vegetables.
Rick’ s Famous Chili – (Serves 2) ½ cup dried tomatoes or small
can of tomato paste, 1-cup dried black beans, 2 oz. dried ground beef,
1-cup rice, 1 sliced green pepper, 2 tsp chili powder,1-tsp each of
salt, onion flakes, Cumin, garlic powder and cayenne pepper,
Olive Chicken – (Serves 2) 1-cup Minute rice, 2 chicken breasts
(frozen and thawed by the time of cooking), 1 sliced green pepper, 4
sliced mushrooms 1 sliced tomato, 1 small can sliced black olives, 1 tsp
each of salt, garlic & pepper, small amount of olive oil.
Prepackaged Meals - There are many pasta, rice and bean, couscous, ramen noodle or other flavored packaged meals available in the supermarket. Adding veggies and meats easily stretches these meals to serve 2.
Mealtime Leftovers - Leftovers at home make great dehydrating meals. Just dry them and toss them into the fridge until your next trip - add hot water and enjoy.
By Rick Story
An average man requires approximately 1,800-2,000 calories per day, with women requiring between 1,200-1,500 (Yes, men, we have it made here!!!). The enormous amount of energy expended on backpacking trips can increase these requirements by as much as 50% or roughly 3,000-men and 2,250-women per day. While there are a number of schools of thought on the subject, the usual recommendation is a 40-30-30 diet (40% of calories from Carbohydrates and 30 each from fats and protein). One gram of fat (any fat) is 9 calories and one gram of protein or carbohydrate is 4 calories. Generally speaking, vegetables, fruits and grain will provide almost all carbohydrates, while meat, fish, legumes and soy products provide protein, with fats coming from some meat, butters and oils. A suggested breakdown of a backpacker’s caloric intake by grams is as follows:
Short Trips (3 days or less)
10 years ago, carrying 40-50 lbs on our backs for a weekend was more common than we’d like to think it was. Nowadays, Ultralight is the key term – Many folks walk around carrying gear that more closely resembles 25 lb. daypacks than traditional backpacks. Cooking gear is changing as a result. Folks that used to lug 2 lbs of stainless steel cookware, and a 1.5 lb. MSR, Coleman or Svea stove are now hauling 1/3 oz (yes, Ounce) Pepsi Can Stoves, 3 oz Esbit and miniscule canister stoves while using extreme lightweight 3-cup titanium pots or 4 oz Wal-Mart Grease pots. The intent is still the same - getting good-tasting hot food into your body.
The good new is that with all the new ultralight gear out there, we can now fill that newly found weight savings with more delicious food - As the Great Nessmuk put it, “We don’t go into the wilderness to rough it, we go into the wilderness to smooth it.”
The beauty of short trips is that they serve as testing grounds for many new ideas. There are opportunities to test out new recipes, vary quantities, experiment with new cooking methods and even try out other stoves. You can bring anything you can fit into your pack and if a meal gets screwed well, you can stop and tank up at the first 3-4 food joints after you get off the trail.
There are a multitude of items that, with proper care, can be
taken along on short trips – especially during spring/early summer and
fall trips when cooler nighttime temps prevail. Care should be taken
with these foods during mid-late summer trips where blistering heat and
muggy nights are the norm. Such items include:
Even in the warm weather…
Have you ever reached into your pack on a hot day only to find
the interior still extremely cool from the evening or early morning
temperature when you packed your bag? This is the refrigerator to
Long Trips (4 days and more)
Aaaahhh, now we can begin to feel the extra weight on our backs. About the only thing that really changes when considering a long trip over a short trip (besides extra underwear and socks) is the amount of food and fuel you carry.
When planning a longer trip, menu planning is easier if you first make a schedule of each meal/snack you will need and then fill in each meal/each day with what you realistically picture yourself eating. For instance – While dried beans & rice or chicken Ramen may make economical & light meals, you will be thinking of attacking other hikers to steal their food after 5-6 days of either. This helps you to also remember things like cream and sugar for your coffee (or even to remember your coffee for what it’s worth) or soup for the evenings. As good measure, pack at least one day’s extra food for each 5 days you will be out. (Ideally, you will have a food drop or bump box for trips over 5-7 days, to help lighten the load). In addition, a great bad weather pack for those tent bound days will contain extra tea/coffee bags, cream/sugar, cup-a-soups or bouillon, hard candy and some granola bars.
With the exception of vegetables and hard cheeses, longer trips usually require the use of dehydrated foods, not only for the ability of these foods to stay preserved, but also to cut down on the sheer liquid weight hidden within normally hydrated foods. An example is dried tomatoes – A 10 -12 oz Ziploc bag is all that remains after 7-8 lbs of tomatoes (enough tomatoes for a handful of trips) have been dehydrated.
By Rick Story
To dehydrate food is to remove the moisture from it. As mentioned above, this often results in a substantial space and weight reduction in the food item, while leaving most of the nutrients intact.
Many foods can be purchased already dried. Foods such as pasta, beans, tomatoes potatoes and rice, are always available. In addition, many different kinds of fruit can also be purchased in a dehydrated state: apples, apricots, bananas and peaches can often be found either in the produce, baking or bulk food aisle as well as other more exotic fruits such as papaya, pineapple and coconut. Meats and vegetables however, usually must be purchased fresh and then dehydrated.
Drying vegetables is quite simple: for most larger fruits & vegetables – apples, bananas, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, slice to the thickness of about ¼ inch, place in the dehydrator and set the temperature in accordance with your specific dehydrator’s instructions – Keep checking until dry. Dry is when the item feels leathery and there is no stickiness or moisture present. Try to avoid over drying, in which the item becomes brittle or hard – This may take some practice, but once you have dried a few items, you will generally know when to stop the dehydration process. Fruits are almost as simple. However, some fruit such as cherries or blueberries require “checking,” in which you dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds to break down the outer waxes on the skin to allow faster dehydrating. Also some fruits (such as apples) are better off dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Once your food has cooled, place in Ziploc bags and squeeze out all air. Seal and place in the Refrigerator (or freezer if not being used in the next few months. While it is better to sue these items with in 6-12 months, I have used foods that have been dehydrated for over 5 years with just a good results.
Drying ground beef: Brown low fat ground beef in pan, remove drippings, then pour beef into strainer. Press remaining drippings from beef with paper towels, then place beef on paper towels or newspaper to catch additional grease. Once beef has cooled, place in dehydrator and dry between 125-145 degrees until beef is crumbly and hard. Store as with vegetables in refrigerator or freezer – Due to the ability of fats to turn rancid, meats should be used up within 6 months of dehydration.
Drying poultry: Use white meat. Broil or grill until completely cooked. Slice into thin strips or cubes, press additional moisture out with strainer and paper towels. Place in dehydrator and dry at 125-145 degrees until hard. Note: To rehydrate meats, place in hot water (preferably your rice or pasta water) for 20 minutes or more.
Drying spaghetti sauce: If you don’t feel like making your own, you can simply pour jars of sauce on special dehydrator trays and dry until no longer tacky. Roll the “leather” up and refrigerate. It takes some testing to determine how much leather to use, but I find that I use between 3-4 oz of water for 1 oz of leather and 1 oz of macaroni together.
Don’t have a food dehydrator? Don’t worry. You may be able to use your oven. It you can set it between 100 and 145 degrees, you can cover cookie trays with wax paper and dry. Keep the door open a crack and use a second tray to regularly “flip” the items over to ensure complete airflow.
You can easily conserve fuel when cooking meals with the use of a pot cozy. A cozy is a form-fitting jacket with a top and bottom, made of either reflectix or ensolite foam. By bringing your food to a boil and turning off your stove and placing the pot in the cozy, you can let your food “cook” in its own heat for up to 20 minutes. You may wish to bring it back to a boil after 20 minutes, but from experience, it is usually ready to eat as soon as I remove the cozy.
Finally, enjoy yourself – This is what you came to do, remember??
By Ken Harbison
The two features you should really have in a dehydrator are:
You can get a decent one with 4 or 5 trays for $40-50 at department stores. The larger models can dry more, but are much more expensive and harder to store. It costs only about $0.30 to dry a full load in ours, so it isn't worth paying a lot more just to handle a larger load.
You can buy more trays (about 2/$16-25), to handle larger loads. One reason to get more trays would be to get a removable screen in order to dry taller objects - like whole peppers, etc.
You need a solid drip tray, as for doing fruit leather, but it should come with one. More would be useful (2 for $6-9) if you want to do lots of fruit leather.
Something very useful is a fine screen to go over the larger openings when doing small pieces. You can buy them from the manufacturer for about 2/$8-12. We made ours from polyethylene canvas for embroidery ($0.25 on sale) from a craft store.
By Joanne Mitchell
Even the most dedicated carnivores can find TVP useful while camping. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is a meat substitute made from soybeans. An excellent protein source, dry TVP is lightweight, does not need refrigeration, and rehydrates quickly into a substance very much like ground meat in texture. It is inexpensive, too.
TVP is made by mixing soy flour with water, cooking it, and extruding it to make various shapes and sizes. It has no cholesterol and very little fat or sodium. It comes in granules, chunks, and cutlets. The larger sizes take longer to rehydrate, and hence are not as useful for camp cooking.
Granules (or flakes) of TVP can be rehydrated by adding hot or boiling water and letting stand for about 5 minutes. Or they can be simply added to a soup or stew as it cooks and they will rehydrate during the cooking. They take roughly an equal volume of water. That is, 1 cup of granules of TVP requires 7/8 cup of boiling water to rehydrate, and provides about 1 ¾ cup of final product.
TVP comes in flavored (“beef,” “chicken,” etc.) and unflavored forms; the unflavored form is easy to use. It has little flavor of its own but will soak up flavor from spicy sauces. Or you can add a little soy sauce (from a package from a Chinese restaurant) or catsup to the rehydrating liquid to add flavor.
TVP is available in the bulk food section of Lori’s Natural Foods in the Rochester Regional Market at 900 Jefferson Rd, and in bags at Tadco, also in the Rochester Regional Market at 900 Jefferson Rd. I have occasionally seen it in Wegmans Nature’s Marketplace departments.
Experiment with it at home before setting out on the trail. You will be surprised at the ease and convenience of this high protein food.
By Erv Tschanz
With a little pre-preparation and packing, you can have great meals in the field. You do the prep work at home, where you have the gear and time. Measure the weight and volume of food before and after dehydrating to get a better idea of how much to pack when dried.
¼ cup of dehydrated vegetables
Use water per package instructions plus about 1 cup per cup of your dehydrated food. Place meat and vegetables in water and bring to boil for 1 minute. Take off heat and add seasonings, powder or sauce mix. Use a “pot parka” to insulate pot?this will allow dinner to rehydrate and “cook” within the next 15-30 minutes. Place back on the stove for additional heat just before serving.
Note: The use of a “pot parka” will allow you to save fuel and frees up the stove to make hot drinks, soup, or melt snow for water. A typical “pot parka” can be made from a piece of insulation that is held around the pot with shoelace or duct tape. Don’t forget circular pieces for the top and bottom as well. Easiest to use—an old ensolite sleeping pad or “reflectix” material available at Chase Pitkin.Tips:
To cook pasta in minimum water, add 6 oz pasta to 2 cups of water and boil 1 minute and leave in pot parka for 15-30 minutes. To this you can add some olive oil or tomato paste and 1 spaghetti seasonings packet.
Rice and pasta that have been previously cooked and dehydrated will rehydrate quickly in the field when hot water or sauces are added.
Too much water? Thickeners can consist of cornstarch, shredded cheese, flour, dried veggies, instant potatoes, dried milk, or non-dairy creamer.
Add non-dairy creamer to dry milk to improve flavor.Meal Ideas
For comparison—1 freeze-dried meal that serves two 11-oz portion (2 full bowls) is enough for 1 backpacker.
Swan’s Market 288-5320
Hartmann’s Old World Sausage Shops, Inc. 266-4960
Tadco Distributors 292-0790
AlpineAire Bulk Freeze Dried Foods 800-322-6325
Backpacker’s Pantry Freeze Dried 800-641-0500
Piragis Northwoods Company 800-223-6565