Dehydrating Food - It's Easy!
If rooting around for grubs and acorns is not your idea of good eating outdoors, try dehydrating food at home. With a food dehydrator and a few of my backpacking recipes, you can create tasty meals like beef and broccoli with rice, turkey and mixed vegetables with mashed potatoes, and banana nut bread pudding for dessert.
In this section, I will show you how to dehydrate food. You will learn how easy it is to dehydrate meats, vegetables, fruits, bread, and starches like potatoes, rice, and beans. Click the links below to explore my dehydrator tips.
Chef Glenn’s techniques for dehydrating food:
Choosing a Food Dehydrator
Dehydrating Meat (Ground Beef & Turkey, Ham, Shrimp, Tuna)
How to Make Fruit Leather
Dehydrating Rice and Risotto
How to Dehydrate Potatoes and Beans into Bark
How to Make Tomato Sauce Leather
How to Make Bread Crumbs
Why I Dehydrate My Own Backpacking Food:
Dehydrating food saves money. If you’re in a hurry to get on the trail, you may gladly pay the higher prices of pre-packaged meals, but if you can plan ahead, you’ll save money following my recipes or your own at home. Each one of my backpacking recipes cooks up for less than $2. In contrast, a pre-packaged meal from Enertia Trail Foods will run you $4.25, and Mountain House freeze-dried meals will set you back $6 to $7.25.
Prepare the right size meals. No one wants to get hungry on the trail, and no one wants to pack out leftovers, but only you know how much food you need. Cooking a meal with ¼ cup dehydrated meat, ¼ cup dehydrated vegetables, and ½ cup instant brown rice or other starch fills me up nicely, but you could easily bump the quantities up or down to suit your appetite. On a backpacking trip to Savage Gulf, Tennessee, two of my hiking friends couldn’t finish their Mountain House meals. I ate the rest of Tina’s Rice & Chicken instead of baking a chocolate chip muffin for dessert, but Gary had to pack out his leftover Lasagna. On that night in Savage Gulf, I dined on Senor Glenn’s Pot ‘O Tacos… beef, black beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and rice with a taco-cheese sauce. Muy delicioso!
More veggies, please! Pre-packaged backpacking meals are typically light on veggies and heavy on starches. Backpackers need starches for energy, but I want my veggies, too. Slice or dice vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and carrots and put them directly into the food dehydrator. Some vegetables such as broccoli benefit from a couple minutes of steaming before dehydrating. With a small amount of home preparation, include healthy portions of colorful, vitamin-rich vegetables in all of your backpacking meals.
Keep out unwanted ingredients. Manufacturers of dried meats and fruits douse their products with preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors. Even Quaker Instant Oatmeal slips you fake strawberries and blueberries with the magic of Red 40 and Blue 2. Flavored rice and noodle products from the grocery store often contain MSG, (mono sodium glutamate for a killer headache) massive amounts of salt, partially hydrogenated oils, and other ingredients that would be easier to pronounce if you had paid attention during chemistry class. Free yourself from chemically engineered food by dehydrating food from Mother Nature and you’ll feel well nourished and healthy on the trail.
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