DIY Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Nick, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. Nick

    Nick >_

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    Lately I've been thinking that I need to figure out a better way to eat natural, gluten-free foods while I'm on backpacking trips. Since real paleo backpacking food is pretty much impossible to come by, I've been going stove-less and sticking with Lara Bars, homemade jerky, nuts, etc. The problem with all that is that it's kind of hard to eat for more than a few days, at least for me. It's also hard to eat a full meals worth of it at once, so when others sit down and eat a meal, I'm just struggling to eat another piece of dry meat. Not ideal. Whether or not the meal is warm is one thing but having sort of a 'gut bomb' after a long day of hiking is awesome.

    So I decided to try dehydrating some leftovers and then cooking it back up to see how it went. Granted, most of you probably don't care if there is gluten, sugar or other unpronounceable stuff in your food so this might not be worth it to you. Or maybe it will since it's so much cheaper than buying freeze dried meals like Mountain House.

    Either way, I thought I'd share my experience and I plan to post other DIY dehydrated backpacking food recipes as I try them. Here's the first.

    I started with some leftovers from Audra's Unstuffed Peppers recipe. It's basically just like stuffed peppers but instead of leaving the peppers whole, we chop them up. It's not as pretty as stuffed peppers but it tastes great and you don't have to figure out how to eat it! And for us it's great because there are no funny ingredients and we can make it with good, grass-fed, non-hormone-fed beef.

    I put 16 ounces of the leftovers onto the fruit rollup tray in my food dehydrator.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-1.jpg

    I set it to 145 degrees and let it run for about 7 hours. I meant to pull it at 6 but forgot. It was nice and dry when I finally turned it off. About half way through, I flipped things over and broke up any big chunks to help them dry thoroughly.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-2.jpg

    Once dry and bagged up, my 16 ounce serving of Unstuffed Peppers was a mere 4 ounces. I weighed it before and after so I would know how much water I needed to add back in later.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-3.jpg

    The next day, I got the dried meal out and cooked it up for dinner. That dried beef looks delicious, eh! o_O
    paleo-backpacking-meal-4.jpg

    I was just going to dump boiling water on it, stir and then let it sit for 15 minutes or so but I decided I'd actually put it into boiling water for a bit. I added 12 ounces of water to bring the total serving back up to it's original 16 oz weight.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-5.jpg

    I boiled it for about 4 minutes and then turned it off and let it sit for another 10 or 12.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-6.jpg

    The finished product, rehydrated and ready to eat.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-8.jpg

    Closer view of the texture. The meat was not tough at all, nice and tender. My only complaint was that it had a very slight burnt taste but not so much that it wasn't still thoroughly enjoyable, especially if I were in the backcountry.
    paleo-backpacking-meal-9.jpg

    For comparison, I reheated a bowl of the real dish that had not been dehydrated. As you can see, the peppers are a lot bigger and juicier and the meat chunks were larger but overall, the two were very close. This pic is of the undehydrated product:
    paleo-backpacking-meal-7.jpg

    So far I know that I need to pick dishes with small parts in them. By that I mean no beef stew or other foods with large chunks. Now to come up with some other good paleo meals that fit the bill.
    sixstringsteve, klank, BJett and 6 others like this.
  2. Yellowstone 1

    Yellowstone 1 Blah!

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    That's great! I always wondered if I could dehydrate stuff like that. Nice experiment.
  3. pixie1339

    pixie1339 Desperately Seeking Sandstone

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    Very cool! It's hard to stick to a diet like this in the backcountry because of the lack of viable options. I once ate plain tuna fish for breakfast
    :eek: If you find other recipes that work I'd love to hear about them.
  4. lostlandscapes

    lostlandscapes rope mule

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    Awesome, Nick. I was actually thinking about this very subject this past week as I was inhaling a bag of Mountain House Beef Stew. That recipe at least seems like it would be pretty straightforward--and paleo too if you went with sweet potatoes (altho not all people consider them paleo). Speaking of sweet potatoes, have you tried dehydrating them yet? Just received a dehydrator recently and am just starting to experiment...
  5. Nick

    Nick >_

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    I think sweet potatoes are totally paleo, tons of nutrients! Just gotta watch the carb intake with stuff like that, IMO. We do beef stew all the time with them, we've also used rutabaga as a sort of potato substitute. Haven't dehydrated any of them though.

    The only problem with dehydrating beef stew would be the big chunks. Since it's not getting freeze dried, you really need to be able to make it smaller so it dries and rehydrates efficiently.

    I did this unstuffed peppers recipe for three meals over the weekend. It worked fantastic even when I just poured two cups of hot water on and let it sit like a Mountain House. I am so sold. I'm going to try dehydrating some omelets this week to see if I can make a nice paleo breakfast.
  6. JD

    JD I Love Coffee

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    Good to see you have been getting creative with this. Our last trip was uncrured salami baby carrots and good old Lara bars. I did enjoy desert whiskey and dark chocolate.
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  7. Miss Buffalo

    Miss Buffalo Never give up!!

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    have you tried something else so far?

    I'm desperately looking for any DIY dehydrated meal ideas.
    And your paleo diet seems to have all the ingredients I'm allowed to eat.
    Unfortunately I also developed a gluten intolerance beside my other food allergies and at the moment I'm a bit overwhelmed. :(
  8. Nick

    Nick >_

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    I dehydrated omelettes and it turned out pretty good. Haven't tried anything else although next trip I plan to try some pasta but with gluten-free noodles. I packed some swiss cheese on this last trip which was a great addition to both the dehydrated omelette and unstuffed peppers.
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  9. Miss Buffalo

    Miss Buffalo Never give up!!

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    sounds good, I need to check this for myself. I also thought about scrambled eggs and then powder then.

    Let me know how the pasta turned out when you try it next time. Especially the sauce. I usually have my own home made pasta sauce, but it's a chunky one. I guess I need to pulse or liquefy it completely before considering it for a DIY freeze dry meal.
  10. wnorton

    wnorton Member

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    We have been contemplating doing the same. This is the push needed.

    Thanks for sharing your findings.

    Wade


    From wnorton using an iPad and Tapatalk HD.
  11. JD

    JD I Love Coffee

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    Okay Nick, I did the worst thing ever I tried a MH breakfast eggs ham peppers hands down worst thing I have ever tried my wife laughed when seeing my face I will try about anything food wise. I need to come up with a beter paleo way to go how did your eggs turn out. We eat an egg scramble alot of eggs ,red and green peppers with mushroom ,cilantro and green onion time to time uncured canadian bacon. I am wondering if I cook this does it dehydrate well. I need some options for the morning.
  12. Nick

    Nick >_

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    Ah yeah.. those Mountain House eggs are nasty, eh? I have only done one batch of my paleo DIY dehydrated omelette recipe but it turned out pretty good. I might have dried it a bit too long so it didn't rehydrate quite as well as I would have liked, but it was still delicious to the point that I was moaning and groaning as I ate it. Everything is better in the backcountry, right?

    Here's what I did:

    Fried some sausage, onions and peppers
    IMG_2829.jpg

    And a little 'seasoning'. It dehydrates and rehydrates very well. :)
    IMG_2835.jpg

    Next up, some farm eggs from happy, free-roaming, 'galavanting' chickens. :)
    IMG_2831.jpg

    Plug for the farm. We pick ours up from The Community Co-op in SLC or out at Utah Natural Meat where we buy our happy, grass-fed beef.
    IMG_2830.jpg

    Whip up a dozen of those eggs
    IMG_2834.jpg

    Add to the mixture...
    IMG_2838.jpg

    IMG_2839.jpg
    And that's the easy part! Yeah, yeah, everyone knows how to cook eggs, but how fun would it be to start this DIY backpacking food post with already cooked eggs? :p

    Next up, load the eggs into the dehydrator. As usual, I do one meal per tray and weigh them before and after so I know about how much water to put in when it's time to cook them out in the backcountry.
    IMG_2841.jpg

    As you can see, those are some big chunks of meat in there. Not good for dehydrating. So I let it go for an hour or two and then I busted out the stick blender with the food chopping attachment.
    IMG_2846.jpg

    As you can see, running it through the chopper breaks it down into much more dehydrator-friendly pieces. I deliberately let it dry for a while first so that the chopping would be a cleaner experience.
    IMG_2847.jpg

    After running it all through the chopper, I loaded the trays back up and put it back in the dehydrator.
    IMG_2848.jpg

    Here's where I went a little wrong. I had read that eggs take a long time to dehydrate but I believe this is not the case when you chop them up small like I did. These went for about 9 hours but I think the standard 6-7 that I do my other meals would have been perfect. Unfortunately I was away from home from the 4-9 hour mark and couldn't watch them finish up. But luckily, they still were delicious to eat. They didn't look quite as yummy when rehydrated and they certainly took a little extra soak time, but they were excellent and I highly recommend it, especially for those seeking paleo backpacking food. Side note: if cheese is part of your diet, adding some in to this mixture after you heat it back up is heavenly. :hungry: Sorry, I didn't take any pics of the rehydrated stuff.
    IMG_2850.jpg
  13. JD

    JD I Love Coffee

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    I will have you make my meals for me. That looks great it's what I am looking for I guess I need to get a dehydrater now to go with the vaccum sealer. Glad to see you buyin g Local we did a CSA share this year amazing fresh fruit and veggies evey week save a ton of money also all while trying new foods. The eggs were so bad this trip not what my body is used too at all. How do you tell how much liquid to add back strictly by weight? Do you buy a half whole or quarter cow there we have looked at buying from them.
  14. Nick

    Nick >_

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    For determining the water to add back in, i put each tray on my scale. If it weighs 20oz, I deduct 2oz for the tray so 18oz of food. Now when it's dry, that will usually be something like 6oz. So 18-6= 12oz which is 1.5 cups of water. It actually works out almost perfectly.

    We buy quarter cows every couple of months but we're going to pick up a half in November. I heard that the cows in the fall are the tastiest and most nutritious because they've been eating fresh green grass all summer instead of eating dried out stuff in the winter. But then again, Utah Natural Meat just got a sweet new hydroponic sprout garden that will supply all of the animals with fresh sprouts year round. Pretty cool stuff... check this out:

  15. JD

    JD I Love Coffee

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    Perfect thanks for the water weight ratio. We will have to check out the beef what cuts have you gotten with the quarter?? Be sure to look at CSA for next year if you get a chance we get two boxes of crops evey week for 15 weeks.
  16. Nick

    Nick >_

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    The quarter comes with a pretty wide selection. We've done both Corriente and Angus beef and very much prefer the angus. The flavor on both is phenomenal but the corriente is sometimes a little too gamey. Our corriente quarter was light, only like 77 lbs. The angus quarters were more like 150-175 lbs. Those are hanging weights but we did the math on one of them and we were still getting a killer price overall. Way better than grocery store prices for meat that tastes worse and is full of crap.

    We usually get something like this in our quarter beef order:

    A ton of ground beef (maybe 40-50%?)

    tons of steaks:
    T-Bones
    Sirloin
    Ribeyes

    a fair amount of:
    cube steaks
    short ribs
    stew meat

    6+ roasts of various types
    soup bones

    And a pack of tenderloin... it's sooooo good.
  17. JD

    JD I Love Coffee

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    That helps out alot since we have just us two we have to think how much beef we would have to eat I think we will pull the trigger I can make paleo cabbage rolls and peppers with the ground beef. I do love a steak and my wife would love the tenderloin. It's funny to see what shit we put into our bodies if you read a label.
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  18. Nick

    Nick >_

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    Lessons learned in home dehydrating...

    It's almost 11pm and I'd really like to go to bed. I put some gluten-free spaghettin into my dehydrator at noon today and i'm waiting for it to get done so I can go to sleep. To keep this from happening to you, make sure you break up and/or flip the food on the trays so that it gets dry all the way through. Mine probably would've been done 2 hours ago if I'd done that. That is all.
  19. Miss Buffalo

    Miss Buffalo Never give up!!

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    Good to know Nick. So I can try it by myself this weekend, when I'm back home. Can't wait to test some of your food ideas by myself
  20. Nick

    Nick >_

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    Pics from the latest experiment, gluten-free spaghetti. :) Yes, the noodles are rice-based so it's not technically paleo, but for backpacking, I'm okay with it. I'll be rehydrating these this weekend and will report back.

    IMG_2986.jpg IMG_2987.jpg

    I should have flipped/broken these up earlier. They took a long time to dehydrate!
    IMG_2988.jpg
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