Dish Cleaning - Magic Secrets Wanted

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: Dish Cleaning - Magic Secrets Wanted

Post by rightstar76 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:58 am

This is a fun and awesome thread!

I don't like to clean pots or dishes. There's some great plastic bags you can get from Packit Gourmet (boiling and rehydrating) that eliminate cleaning.

However, opposing viewpoints are healthy, and the following two articles have convincing arguments on why it's better to cook without plastic bags and just clean your dishes. The Andrew Skurka page has excellent comments on both sides of the debate. ... ot-liners/ ... thank-you/

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Re: Dish Cleaning - Magic Secrets Wanted

Post by freestone » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:21 pm

My secret is to cook undersized portions of something really delicious. That way, I scrape the bowl or pot clean as a whistle trying to get every last delicious morsel. If something is stuck to the bottom, I add a little water and let it soak for a minute or two, stir it loose with the spoon, then down the hatch with that too. The final step is hitting the bowl and spoon with another dash of hot water, toss it, then dry it all off with one of those reusable blue towels or the bandana then move on to dessert. No soap, dirt, or pine needles needed.
Short cuts make long delays. JRR Tolkien

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Re: Dish Cleaning - Magic Secrets Wanted

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:04 pm

Why an undersized portion? I eat every last morsel regardless of how much I cook. But then I have never had a problem with "cleaning my plate". Since I have washed dishes for a family my whole life, washing 1 measly cookpot backpacking is nothing. It is all relative. The biggest "secret" is simply not to burn the food! Just pay attention. Since I have been known to accidently drop my pot full of my meal all over the ground, I can just imagine what a mess I would make trying to handle a bag for eating.

My cook pot also doubles for my wash basin. After getting most of the residue out of the pot, I use it as a bowl to wash my face and hands. I use one cut in half very small square of a dry "foaming" makeup remover sheet that cuts the grease, then wipe the pot with it. Cup is filled about an inch with water, then I brush my teeth, spit in the cup, wash with my fingers, and then a last rinse for pot, cup and spoon with a bit of warm fresh water. In the evening I usually have a lot of extra solar heated water so do not need to use fuel to heat water.

So where do you put your clean pot and stove at night? I do not want rain on my stove, so put it under the tent fly. If they fit, the clean pot and cup also go in the bear can, otherwise under the fly with a rock on top of the lid. The clean spoon goes inside the tent in my ditty bag. Any cleaning cloths or rags also go in the bear can. I do not put clean pots and stove with the bear can- I do not like the idea of a bear wrecking my cookware and stove.

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Re: Dish Cleaning - Magic Secrets Wanted

Post by Eiprahs » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:40 pm

We carry a kettle for boiling water. For 2 or 3 people our “cook” pot is a 7 cup square Tupperware “Chili Storage Container” with snap on lid. 4 or more people we go with a 14 cup square Tupperware container. Each person has his own 16 oz. plastic mug.

Most of our trips are in dry environments, so we are dehydrated. Our ‘normal’ dinner is soup, followed by a freeze dried main course, followed (sometimes) by dessert, and concluded with a hot cocoa, tea, or Alpine Cider.

Soup is made first—add soup mix plus any additions like freeze dried vegies, parmesan cheese, etc. to Tupperware, add boiling water, place in cozy and allow to steep required time.

Main course is made in same Tupperware container without cleaning, again steeping in the cozy.

Prior to dessert course, Tupperware container is rinsed with boiling water—just a couple ounces—followed by a wipe with 1/8th of a blue paper shop towel. I’m usually the cook, and I use the Tupperware rinse water to rinse my personal 16 oz plastic mug—I drink the liquid. Blue shop towels are much stronger and more absorbent than regular paper towels or toilet paper, and are strong enough they can rinsed and dried for reuse.

Repeat Tupperware cleaning procedure following dessert course.

Each person picks his evening beverage, the hot water for the beverage serving to clean his mug.

If hot water remains, I swish a couple ounces of it around my cup and then use that water for tooth brushing.

If we plan to fish, we carry a 10” Teflon coated fry pan which is very easy to wipe clean with shop towel.

Fry pan, kettle and Tupperware nest, with small kitchen items placed inside kettle and the entire cook kit is placed in its plastic bag and hung. Personal mugs are hung also. Where bears are a problem we cook and store food away from our sleeping location.

We carry one bear canister all trips required or not. Besides securing some food against all critters, the canister serves as a chair.

One of the advantages of this system is that waste food packaging stays dry. On a longer trip you can end up with a pound or three of food packaging, and if you “cook” in it, your wet garbage will be both heavier and smellier. We store waste in Zip-lock bags to prevent it ‘hydrating’ in wet weather and to reduce odors.

If we are base camping we hang our used tea bags to dry—they make nifty pot scrubbers. One change in freeze dried meals over the past 20 years is that cleaning is much easier than it used to be. Some of the earlier entrees contained oils or cheese that would stick tenaciously to all cooking equipment contacted, making those old tea bags especially useful.

Good luck with your dishes. And may your dinners be tasty, too!

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