Trail Food

Inexpensive, yummy, healthy and ultra lightweight. These are the 4 parameters we’re all trying to maximize. Here’s one of my favorite recipes: home-dried veggies and instant rice. Very easy  but you do need a method for drying food. I have a dehydrator and I consider it part of my backpacking gear. You can also use the sun. Look on line for simple food drying methods if you’re not familiar with it.

I begin with a bag or two of frozen mixed vegetables and toss them into the dehydrator (or sun) for a couple of hours. Before drying, determine how much of the vegetables you would eat in a single sitting with a serving of rice. They will be very small when completely dried. Using frozen vegetables eliminates the mess and time required to cut them yourself. I put my food together in the weeks leading up to a trip. These packets are being prepared for an 8-day hike on the Colorado Trail next week. If I were preparing for a 2-month trip I would of course be working my food much earlier.

I have two bags going in here. The top is a Mexican vegetable mix. The bottom a soup mix. I’ll get 2-3 meals from each. Experiment. I admit that some of my concoctions don’t always please me, but they usually please me more than most of the prepared foods on the shelf.

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Those two bags dried down to 1 1/2 cups, 1/4 cup per meal. Don’t be fooled – it’s more than you think. Mixed with 1/4 instant rice it makes a very filling and healthy meal for me.

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Now comes the hard part. Mix equal parts rice and dried vegetables. Add herbs. My favorite is a mix called Herbes de Provence. Sometimes I toss the rice in tamari sauce then dry the rice. I also use Italian spices and add dried tomatoes, onions and peppers to the mix. It all works. And this is the final product:

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Dry everything completely as they will mold if they’re damp and set aside for weeks or months. I don’t worry so much when I’m planning to eat it within a couple of weeks. I also dried 3 apples, enough for one trip, and left them slightly softer than I normally would.

And now for the best part: cooking. I’m big on using as little fuel as possible. It’s a weight thing. So I carry a pint container with a leak-proof lid. An hour before I plan to eat I put the day’s dried meal packet into the container with 1 cup of cold water. By the time I’m ready to cook all the water has been absorbed and the vegetables are hydrated. All that’s required is a quick heat up.

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All that’s left to do is eat and watch the sunset. Enjoy!

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Footnote: The final product, packaged in paper envelopes rather than plastic. I’m using business envelopes cut in half and butcher paper stapled along the edges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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