do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
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longri
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:59 pm

Ziplocks. What else are you going to use? The main issue with ziplocks are that the seals aren't airtight and even if they were the plastic itself is permeable to oxygen. But vacuum seal bags are too heavy and not worth the trouble. Besides, most dehydrated food keeps for a long time (many months) in a freezer and easily for weeks at room temperature.

I dehydrate vegetables mainly. But also some oily meals, like curries and chile. They're fully dried but still "wet" from oil. Despite this I haven't noticed any off-flavors after those meals have been at room temperature for a few weeks. Your mileage may vary.

Meat... I've never been able to get satisfactory results. It tastes okay but it's too chewy. I've got a big bag of dehydrated salmon in the freezer, really good salmon, dehydrated and broken up into tiny little bits. It's delicious but no matter how much I simmer it in water it stays kind of chewy. Dehydrating it basically ruined it. I'd rather carry something heavier or else go vegetarian.








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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by TahoeJeff » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:32 pm

Every winter I dehydrate a bunch of carnitas with green chilies. The dry and rehydrate really great. Add some dried beans and tortillas, and you have one heck of a back country burrito.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by alpinemike » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:29 pm

I've been dehydrating for several years now using a L'Equip. Excellent dehydrator. As most have already mentioned on here I stick with basic meals that provide the type of energy and nutrition that I need for being out there for months at a time. Chili and Gumbo are my staples.. both are completely vegetarian which not only makes them easier to dehydrate but also easier to digest in the field. It's actually not always that easy to digest meat in the field given the extreme activity/metabolic levels. I also do pasta sauces and pasta itself. I learned to cook the pasta about halfway and then dehydrate and then when I cook in the field it only takes about half the time.. pretty brilliant idea that I researched several years back! I'll probably branch out to some lentils or something of that sort this year to get another flavor in.

In regards to ziplocks... Been using the sandwich ones for some and the freezer ones for other meals.. Usually depended on the size of the meal. I have had zero problems with plastic smell or anything else. And... I've had food in resupply buckets for over a month and if I remember correctly almost 2 months last year. This year it will also be close to 2 months. I've also stored cheese for over a month without refrigeration last year! The secret is vinegar soaked cheese cloth that the cheese is wrapped in. I don't mind the taste of vinegar and to be honest it's not that strong either. I tried to go with the vacuum sealing route a couple years back but I found it was not only heavier but also bulkier and I couldn't fit as much food into my Bearikade that way. And the vacuum sealing route is also not reusable unlike ziplocks.. Yes I even reuse ziplocks! I wash them every year after my trips until they just become too old.. ie 2-3 years of use. I also have not found any issues with the fact that ziplocks aren't completely air tight. If you properly dehydrate it really shouldn't matter very much considering that the rate of absorption of moisture through the air is so low compared to the amount of time the food is stored. And in our Sierra Nevada the air is pretty dry during the summer anyways so if it's stored in most of the locations that I know of.. IE VVR, Parcher's, Reds' Meadow you shouldn't worry too much about wet/damp air.

I also make burritos with the chili and gumbo.. I add some Cheese Powder (which you can get online easily) and hot sauce and it's one of my favorite meals.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:40 pm

alpinemike wrote:It's actually not always that easy to digest meat in the field given the extreme activity/metabolic levels.
What activity are you talking about that is extreme? It can't be backpacking.

I eat a lot of salami in the Sierra. Pretty much every trip it's roughly 10% of my calories and I've never had any problem with it. I rely on it. But I'm mainly just walking or skiing with a pack, or rock climbing. Nothing remotely extreme.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by fishmonger » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:35 pm

longri wrote:Ziplocks. What else are you going to use?
This stuff

http://www.amazon.com/Gallon-Dry-Packs- ... B003WSUPDY

I plan to use this type bag (vacuum sealed) at least for the long term stuff mailed out, then to be repackaged for the bear can. I've used zip locks with freeze dried for years, never had an issue even 8 plus weeks after repacking. I am just trying to be more careful with the homemade stuff, although from what I have learned so far, if prepared properly and with low fat content, dehydrated meals will last for many months.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:44 pm

There are many types of zip-lock bags. The "freezer" bags are thicker, have better zip seals, and are intended for longer storage. I can see why you would not want to put every packet in a seal-a-meal bag, but maybe put, say two days worth of smaller zip-locks in one seal-a-meal and vacuum it? Just an idea. The plastic taste thing is pretty individual - I may be a "super taster". It also may be that the food itself has gone stale. I once read where high-fat foods spoil easier and pick up odors. I particularly notice that nuts taste bad after about a month in a plastic bag.

Oxygen, heat, moisture and light are supposed to be the culprits in food spoilage. So it also depends on how the food will be stored. I imagine that a place like Muir Ranch would store the mailed food in a cool, dark place. Putting it in a trailside bear box is probably not a good idea (and illegal too). Those bear boxes get really hot at times. I had a friend who did this once and when he got to the bear box, the food was spoiled. Had to come out!

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:49 pm

Those vacuum bags aren't a bad idea since you're going to repackage later. You'll probably never know if it was necessary.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by alpinemike » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:26 pm

To answer your question
What activity are you talking about that is extreme? It can't be backpacking.
:

I would say that compared to being able to eat normally and not be burning 5000+ calories a day backpacking on difficult cross country terrain is fairly extreme. Also throw in many climbing days along with sustained technical climbing. Maybe that's just how I see it... Not necessarily extreme in the form of a sport but in terms of on the body for months at a time it is. Remember I am referring to doing this constantly for not just a couple days or weeks but months.. I'm sure I could eat meat regularly on a short backpacking trip no problem. I do eat some salami and some turkey pepperoni just to get a little protein in. But it's certainly not where the bulk of my calories comes from. Just how my body works I suppose.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by fishmonger » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:54 am

longri wrote:Those vacuum bags aren't a bad idea since you're going to repackage later. You'll probably never know if it was necessary.
you're right, but I had some bad experiences in the past I do not want to repeat. During our last long trip I learned never to repack factory vacuum sealed salami (Landjaeger, actually). All the packages we shipped ahead that were still sealed as purchased were fine weeks later, but those that were cut open and repackaged into freezer zip lock bags were all rotten.

We even used fresh food handling gloves to avoid contamination during repackaging. Still a good idea to do even after that bad experience. We were somewhat pushing the envelope with those sausages, I guess. Never had issues with them in the air tight packs, though.

Great meal suggestions in the other posts. I will have a lot of foods to try out before summer.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:14 am

alpinemike wrote:Remember I am referring to doing this constantly for not just a couple days or weeks but months..
I glossed over the "months at a time" part of your post.

Everybody's different, but I'm not sure why the amount of time you're out there affects the ability to digest a given meal on a given day. Or why meat would be a problem for an endurance athlete. I'll bet Tour de France riders eat meat for dinner.

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