Tricks for stuffing bear cans? | High Sierra Topix  

Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

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Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby Telkwa » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:37 am

I'm trying something a little different this time.
Couldn't jam all the freeze-dried meals into the bear can. So I cut them open, tossed out the little oxygen absorber packets, and poured the contents into double-zip Ziploc baggies. Wrote cooking directions on the outside of the bags.
I also packed one - just one - of the freeze-dried meal bags into the can. You know, the bags that get the boiling water and rehydrate the meal.

Went from "I can't jam it all in there" to "We can include a few luxury items".

There are some obvious trade-offs. I committed myself to eating these expensive meals in the next coupla weeks or throwing them out because I've destroyed their shelf life.
Also, clean-up on the trail is going to be more tedious. We're either going to have to make sure the one freeze-dried bag is cleaned out very thoroughly each time, or use & clean our little stainless steel cookpot. That means boiling more water, etc.

Seems like we usually come out of the mountains with the Whisperlite's fuel bottle half-full, so boiling a bit of clean-up water 'shouldn't' be an issue.

I sure would like to hear what others have done to jam as much grub as possible into their bear cans!



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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby gary c. » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:53 am

Anytime that I repackage something it goes into a freezer bag. I think that trying to wash and reuse is a lot of trouble and besides, who needs the bacteria? Most of the time I eat out of my pot though. I just rinse with cold water and wipe it out with a cloth. All of my meals start out by boiling water and that should kill anything then.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby Telkwa » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:45 pm

gary c. wrote:Most of the time I eat out of my pot though. I just rinse with cold water and wipe it out with a cloth. All of my meals start out by boiling water and that should kill anything then.


Yeah, good point, boiling water later the same day or next oughta keep things under control. Kinda sounds like famous last words...

When you say a freezer bag, do you mean the ones that are supposed to be tough enuf to boil them? I just used Ziploc sandwich bags, which won't matter if we use the cookpot.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby gary c. » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:32 pm

I always buy Ziplok Freezer bags but you do have to be careful not to over heat the water because they can melt. That is why I almost always pour dinner into the pot but sometimes it is easier to use the bag and not have to clean the pot. Here is a link to a good site that will help you out with all kinds of info.

http://www.trailcooking.com/trail-cooki ... ooking-101
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:21 pm

I wouldn't boil a freezer bag. The nylon bags they sell for use with the vacuum sealers can be boiled safely. A regular Ziploc will melt, even freezer bags if you lean them against the sides of the pot.

I re-use ziplocs by taking a ziploc bowl to eat out of - washing that is less of a chore. Two of my cook kits have ziploc container caddies that also protect stove and windscreen and collect all the little pieces together for storage. Look up the Past Primitive alcohol stove kits for an example.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby gary c. » Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:50 pm

Telkwa wrote:When you say a freezer bag, do you mean the ones that are supposed to be tough enuf to boil them? I just used Ziploc sandwich bags, which won't matter if we use the cookpot.

I missed the part about putting a bag in the pot to boil. I was referring to heating the water in a pot and then pouring it into the freezer bag to rehydrate and eat out of.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby Telkwa » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:49 am

Thanks for the trailcooking link. Looks like lots of good info.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby paul » Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:55 pm

You've made the biggest move by repackaging. One refinement is to make sure stuff is loose in the bags - you don't want to have a bag really full so that is is a hard ball. The loosely filled bags smoosh in better. Also, do not be afraid to use force. I leaned on mine with all my weight to get the last things in, and none of my food seemed to suffer.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby caddis » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:41 am

Telkwa wrote: We're either going to have to make sure the one freeze-dried bag is cleaned out very thoroughly each time, or use & clean our little stainless steel cookpot. That means boiling more water, etc.

Why not place the zip loc bag inside the one freeze dried bag. To clean you simply remove the zip loc and use the freeze dried bag again
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby Telkwa » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:38 am

caddis wrote:Why not place the zip loc bag inside the one freeze dried bag. To clean you simply remove the zip loc and use the freeze dried bag again


caddis, that's a heck of an idea! I need to clear up one thing, though - you're talking about putting the food in the freezer bags that are supposed to be safe for boiling water, right? I just used plain old ziploc sandwich bags. I can hit the supermarket, get the tougher bags, and repackage.

I think what you're talking about is:
1) Put the food in freezer bags that are safe for boiling water, then:
2) Add the hot water, then:
3) Drop the freezer bags inside the Mountain House freeze-dried bag to hold in the heat?

Is that right?
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby Nacci » Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:49 pm

1) Put the food in freezer bags that are safe for boiling water, then:
2) Add the hot water, then:
3) Drop the freezer bags inside the Mountain House freeze-dried bag to hold in the heat?


That's essentially what we do. Lessons we've learned:
- only use name-brand freezer bags. Ziploc® Brand quart size freezer bags work really well.
- put the Ziploc® bag of food inside the Mtn House bag (cheap cozy) first. Be sure both are fully opened.
- pour in the hot water. Stir. Squeeze the air out of the Ziploc® bag & seal. Squish this bag down into the Mtn House bag / cozy and seal the Mtn House bag.
- put the Mtn House bags / cozies all together so they can share heat.
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Re: Tricks for stuffing bear cans?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:44 pm

Early in the trip, finding stuff in the bear can is a problem. On long trips (8-9 days) I cut out circles of wax paper same size as the bear can, put last day's food in bottom, top with the wax paper cut-out, next day, and so forth. Keep spices and condiments or anything you use every day (such as coffee) on top. This avoids having to stuff everything back in the bear can. I really stuff the can at home, and usually cannot get it all back inside if I have to dump the whole can to find stuff. Once you are down to about four days food, then finding stuff is no problem.

You do not have to re-pack everything. Just take a needle and prick a hole in the top of the packaging and squeeze out the air. Some packaging is pretty light weight and good right from the store.

Also take low-volume choices- for example, flat noodles instead of macaroni (it has lots of air space). Small granular food packs better- like Malt-o-Meal vs oatmeal, bag of gorp vs trail bars. Anything square and stiff is going to waste space.

I also just eat out of my pot. I never have found washing the pot after cooking in it a problem. Just pay attention so you do not burn food and fill it with water as soon as done eating, even if you wait a while to do the final washing.
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