You can buy dehydrated meals specially made for campers and hikers, but they tend to be expensive. If you want to save money and have complete control over what you are eating, you can make your own dehydrated meals for backpacking right in your own kitchen before setting off on your hike.
Here are some tips for doing this.
There are plenty of reasons why you’d want to make your own dehydrated food for backpacking. It’s cheaper than buying dehydrated food. It helps keep food safe to eat without having to store it in cold temps, and it makes it lighter to carry. Dehydrating meals also ensures you’ll have a wide variety of foods to eat even when you’re miles away from your own kitchen.
Keep in mind, having food variety isn’t just about preventing you from getting bored when you’re eating. When you’re hiking long distances, you need to keep your body well-nourished, and the best way to do this is to eat as healthy as possible and have a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods in your selection. Dehydrating food makes this possible. It also makes it easy to stick to certain types of diets, whether you’re doing so out of necessity or preference.
So how does dehydration work? When you dehydrate food, it means you remove hydration – water – from the food. This makes it lighter, dryer, and easier to carry. In some cases, you can eat food that’s dehydrated without doing anything else. We do this all the time with things like jerky and dried fruit. However, it is also possible to rehydrate food when you’re hiking. All you need is clean water and a place to mix your food stuffs and your water together (and possibly heat it).
How Do You Dehydrate Food for Backpacking?
First, cut the food you want to dehydrate into smaller pieces. Usually, bite-sized pieces work. This makes it faster to dehydrate. If you are making a single-ingredient dish, make sure you dehydrate it by itself in the dehydrator. If you are dehydrating in the oven (which takes longer), it’s usually OK to mix, but the foods can still pick up flavors of things around it, so be careful
Keep an eye on the temperature while you’re dehydrating. You want it to be consistent, and this ensures your food will be safe to eat.
Once everything is dehydrated pack it in an appropriate container and store properly. Properly dehydrated foods can last a whopping three years when stored properly.
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What are Some of the Most Popular Dehydrated Food Options?
If you think all you’ll be able to eat is beef jerky and dried apricots while you backpack, think again! There are tons of foods that can be dehydrated.
One pot meals are a great option for dehydrating in preparation for a backpacking trip. Think stews, soups, casseroles… that sort of thing.
Chop the ingredients you intend to put into the meal just as you would if you were preparing it as usual. Then instead of putting it into the pot to cook, put it into the dehydrator to remove the water content. Store it in a proper container, and all you’ll need to do on the trail is add water and heat it up until it’s ready to eat.
Snacks can also be dehydrated. Vegetables, fruits, and other munchies are great options that help you cut down weight and be able to eat plenty when you’re hiking.
The final popular option for dehydrated foods for backpacking might surprise you. Are you into the latest smoothie craze? Smoothies are something you can make when you’re backpacking. This is great because you can pack them full of nutritional supplements that help your body feel its best when under the duress of backpacking.
In addition to dehydrated fruits, like honey, seeds, oatmeal, veggies, and more,dehydrate all of your chosen ingredients, grind them into a powder, and take them to go. It’s like making your own super smoothie juice at home!
Steps for Dehydrating a Few Specific Types of Foods
Learning to dehydrate the list of foods below allows you to create a variety of different meal choices.
Blend half a cup of breadcrumbs into a pound of ground beef, cook, and then dehydrate.
Precook your rice as you would otherwise and then dehydrate. You can obviously just take uncooked rice along on a hike, but dehydrated rice tends to be a bit more compact and takes less time to cook.
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This is a hearty starch that most people love when they are backpacking. Peel and grate potatoes into hash browns and then steam them. Dehydrate them and place them in proper containers. You can also include butter and/or milk to make mashed potatoes. Just spread the mash thinly onto the dehydrator tray and crush into a powder when finished.
Beans are an incredibly popular food for campers, hikers, and backpackers, and they are easy to dehydrate. Dehydrating tends to work better with canned beans, but you can also make a bean mush that once dehydrated can be used as a sauce over vegetables, rice, or meat. Some people like to blend the beans with other sauces to create interesting flavors.
All sorts of vegetables can be dehydrated and used for snacks or in recipes when you’re cooking trailside. Just lightly steam them and place them in the dehydrator. If you want to make tomato sauce, cook it as you would from scratch otherwise and then spread layers of it on the dehydrator. You’ll have sheets of sauce you can rehydrate and enjoy later.
Like beef, chicken and turkey are great for dehydrating. Canned chicken tends to rehydrate better than backed, fried, or grilled chicken. You also get the added benefit of not needing to cook any elaborate poultry dishes. Simply pop open a can of chicken, add seasonings, and dehydrate.
Once you’re an experienced dehydrator, you can get creative and try a variety of recipes to see what suits your taste the best.
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