In the first of a series of articles dedicated to backpackers and hikers, I provide some insight into the world of dehydrated food! Now this may sound gross but when I was backpacking through New Zealand and Australia I found it a lot easier to carry things like dehydrated vegetable packets with me, as it meant I could save money on buying and having to throw away fresh vegetables every time I moved on. Find out more of the benefit of this kind of food below.
When you backpack several miles to your campsite, weight is probably a priority. New backpackers will generally sacrifice weight for comfortability. However, it doesn’t take long to realise that being a little bit less comfortable in camp is well worth not having to carry the extra weight. A common item that most backpackers carry is a personal cooking stove. Camping stoves are useful for sanitising water as well as cooking dehydrated meals.
Benefits of Dehydrated Meals
Dehydrated meals appeal to backpackers because they are light-weight and are filling once water is added to them. Most foods are approximately 60 to 90 percent moisture. This means that you can theoretically reduce the weight of your food up to 90 percent. Another advantage of dehydrated foods is that the food is much less perishable since the moisture, which can cause mold or bacteria, is eliminated or significantly reduced. By drying food, even some meats can be spoilage-free. Be aware that it isn’t safe to dry raw means such as pork or fish.
Common Dehydrated Dishes
Pasta’s are the most common dehydrated meals. You can get creative with these meals by dehydrating food yourself or you can purchase dehydrated meals from companies that specialize in hiking food. Common dehydrated food items include beef stew, chicken alfredo, stroganoff, chili, chicken fajitas, chicken salad, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, granola, corn, peas, rice, mac and cheese, ramen noodles, crackers, and dried fruit.
The Secret to Dehydrating Food
If you don’t want to pay a lot of money on food that has already been dehydrated, you can learn how to dehydrate food yourself. The secret to dehydrating food is keeping the food at a temperature which is hot enough to eliminate moisture but not hot enough to cook the food. The time and temperature varies according to the type and size of the food. As a rule of thumb, vegetables and fruits dry best between 125 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Meats are best dried at approximately 150 degrees.
There are a couple of ways to dehydrate your food. You can either dehydrate your food ingredients separately and then cook combine the ingredients in to a meal or you can dehydrate the meal at the end. Contrary to popular belief, dehydrating food is relatively inexpensive. Most people have the necessary items that they need in their own kitchens. Many backpackers dehydrate their food in an oven. If you plan on dehydrating a lot of food in the future, then a food dehydrator is recommended. Food dehydrators are more efficient and cost effective. A food dehydrator is relatively inexpensive, priced as low as £35.
Rehydrating Your Food Using a Camping Stove
Of course, rehydration times vary greatly according to the type of food that is being rehydrated. Meats take the longest amount of time. With a little bit of research and some practice, you will be able to quickly learn how to dehydrate and rehydrate your favorite meals.
When rehydrating meats, use a 1:1 ratio of water to dehydrated meat. If you use too much water, nutrients is lost. Since meat takes a long time to cook, it is smart to place meat in hot water for a few hours before you plan on eating it. If you let the meat sit in water, rehydration will be much quicker with your camping stove. Since, rehydration takes time, you should try to find a efficient camping stove that will maximize the amount of water it can boil with the fuel canister. Backpacking stove companies such as Jetboil or MSR make great stoves that are built around fuel efficiency and quick boiling times.Written by Lexi. She blogs on her overland and backpacking adventures at lexitravels.com