do you dehydrate your own trail meals? | High Sierra Topix  

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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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby balance » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:55 am

Not to get off topic, but the subject was raised.

Protein is important for recovery. Powder supplements provide a very convenient, durable, weight-efficient source of protein. Just mix in water, and there you go. However, it's a good idea to try some at home and make sure they agree with you.

Many sources are available, even Vegan protein. I ingest more protein in the evening, when there's time for digestion. Also, the muscles are in repair and recovery mode while we sleep.



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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:24 am

balance wrote:Protein is important for recovery.

That's true, but there's a catch. Most backpackers and climbers aren't eating enough food. This is partly because food is heavy, partly because of exercise or altitude induced appetite suppression and also partly because backpacking food isn't really that appealing.

With a deficit of calories muscle loss is more or less guaranteed. I've read that increasing the percentage of protein can reduce the loss, but it won't eliminate it in the face of a calorie deficit. And the risk with pushing protein sources is that you might make your food less palatable or digestible, which could lead to an even greater calorie reduction.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:39 am

An easy way to supplement calories is olive oil. Most dried and freeze-dried foods are low in fats. Fat packs twice the calories per pound than protein or carbs. I put at least a tablespoon or more olive oil in every cooked meal. And olive oil is a "good fat". If you do not like the taste of olive oil you can use a spread, like Smart Balance. The spreads are more difficult to pack and tend to melt and leak.

Digestibility can be a problem with altitude or intense exercise after eating. I "high carb" in the mornings and snack steadily all day, and save the fats and proteins for dinner. Seems to work for me. I think a lot of digestibility problems are simply due to inadequately rehydrated freeze dried meals. I do not use FD meals at all. If you are getting sufficient calories, only about 18% of your total calories need to be protein. My favorite way to get protein is eating fresh fish!
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:25 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:An easy way to supplement calories is olive oil.

Sure, if you can eat it. For someone who isn't hungry taking a few swigs of oil or slathering it on their already unappetizing meal might not be a very appealing idea.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Some of us actually like olive oil. I put it on my toast instead of butter. It makes pasta dishes more appetizing. But if you do not like it, then obviously do not use it. There are other good oils out there - nut oils for example. Nuts are mostly oil. Add nuts to your meals. Cheese is high in calories, and will not hurt to do in excess for a few days. Same with summer sausage. Another high calorie food is peanut butter or almond butter. I know people who take a whole jar (the ones in plastic bottles) and just spoon directly into their mouths. I do find that the animal fats tend to give me indigestion more often than the plant based fats. That just could be me. High fat, however, can cause problems at high altitude. I am not saying overdo fats, just add some fat to packaged meals, which tend to be almost all carbs.

All my meals are appetizing to me. I find most freeze dried meals unappealing, so I do not use them. Dehydrating your own meals seems the way to go if most other backpack food does not appeal to you and you do not want to cook in the field. I do fine with just plain cooking of regular dry food I find in the supermarket.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:43 pm

Daisy, I don't dislike olive oil. I consume it almost daily. In the wilderness it's in my home dehydrated meals, in my home made pesto and I frequently carry some for making popcorn. My backcountry food is already high in fat, at least twice as fatty as what I eat at home. So adding oil to my food would be too much. Maybe if I were sledge hauling in Antarctica.

For the poor guy eating an MSR dinner each night it might make sense. The combination of freeze-dried food and oil would gag me though. There are tastier ways to add fat. How about chocolate covered macadamia nuts?

I spend a fair amount of time preparing back country meals and I like them. But not as much as fresh food, not even close. Even my best effort pales in comparison to something as simple as a good hamburger and a beer. I believe that is reflected in my calorie consumption. And I think I'm not alone in this regard.

I usually lose a modest amount of weight on wilderness trips even when I have more food than I want to eat. Contrast that to multi-week bicycle tours I've done where I expend more energy each day but have unlimited access to fresh food. I maintain my weight on those trips. I believe the difference is the food.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby fishmonger » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:15 pm

Quick update on some recent testing:

- grilled pork, lean, all fat removed, then sliced and diced. Dehydrates really well, all the seasoning falls right off in the dehydrator, and the resulting output is a pile of very pointy/sharp morsels that will poke through any of my vac sealer bags. I may need to find a way to soften up the edges before packaging - tumble in some bucket with some hard objects maybe.

- bought white chunk cooked chicken in a can as recommended on http://www.backpackingchef.com/ - sliced and diced, and when done, I found some dark brown, really oily looking chicken pieces and droplets of grease on the Teflon tray liners. So much for 98% fat free. Not sure if I even want to eat that stuff, should it even properly rehydrate at all. I may have to buy an expensive can of freeze dried chicken after all.

- last I dried 2 pounds of mushrooms and 4 red peppers that were on sale. These veggies shrink down to next to nothing. Mushrooms do not rehydrate fully, even after 1 hour of cooking in a beef stroganoff I made with it, but it keeps my mushrooms fresh without having to buy more or get super expensive dried mushrooms at the store. I am going to kick up some store bought ramen and similar meals with dried extra ingredients we'll pack separately. Obviously, you can just buy this stuff and save yourself the dehydrator. I bought some bulk dried veggies and spices from myspicer.com recently. Really like what you can get there. Their zesty Italian seasoning is seriously zesty :)
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby fishmonger » Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:22 am

dehydrated pork doesn't work, at least not the type I dried a week ago. It now has been in a zip lock bag with water for 2 days, but not rehydrated enough to have a soft texture. Perhaps it is the type of preparation (this was grilled, not slow cooked to falling apart point).

Canned white chicken was a little better, but still very chewy after 15 minutes in water/pot. Tolerable, but I think when it comes to meats, I will have to resort to freeze dried, or just sausage and bacon bits.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby sheperd80 » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:12 am

Ive had good results with pulled pork. Crock pot cooked till its falling apart, pulled and mixed with bbq sauce. It rehydrated pretty well, a little chewy but not bad. It made good burritos and pita bread sandwiches. Definitely one id bring again.

Just started doing a few meals this way last year and so far homemade chili, chicken pesto, chicken angel hair basil and evoo have been my favorites.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby longri » Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:25 am

That's the same problem I've had with dehydrated meat. It dehydrates great but it never rehydrates back to what I would find appealing texture-wise. It tastes okay, it's just super chewy no matter how long it's boiled.

That's weird about the mushrooms though. They always rehydrate easily in my experience. You sliced them before dehydrating, right?
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby freestone » Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:42 am

Same a Shepherd 80 having good luck with slow cooked cuts of meat that can shred into small pieces. Also, lean ground beef that has been browned to a fine grain consistency then seasoned with your favorite seasoning or just salt and pepper. last year I dried my own salmon using an online Salmon jerky recipe that was much better than the commercial variety. When I added it to other dishes, it had the flavor of bacon, I think because the marinate called for liquid smoke flavor.
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Postby fishmonger » Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:28 pm

longri wrote:
That's weird about the mushrooms though. They always rehydrate easily in my experience. You sliced them before dehydrating, right?


bought mine sliced - probably a little too thick, those slices, but they still work ok. Red peppers rehydrated well and tasted excellent in my last soup test. Will do a lot more of those for the trip.

Pulled pork may be worth a try. Definitely a lot softer, but I have to use the leaner meats. A few hours in a pan in the oven with water In it at low temp should do the job.
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