Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dehydrating For Our Next Backpacking Adventure

Last year was our first backcountry camping trip, what a great adventure it was.  We spent a week wandering Yosemite's gorgeous backcountry and this year we'll be heading out to Grand Teton National Park. 

Prepwork has begun!

Last year when I was researching foods for our trip I decided to dehydrate our main meals.  We took oatmeal for breakfast with dehydrated strawberries, had two snacks throughout the day (candy of some kind or granola bars) and then a dinner that I'd dehydrated.  It worked out very well.   I did a little research on dehydrators and this is the one I decided on.  Very happy with that decision. 
It came with 5 trays, two mesh inserts like you see below and two solid inserts for fruit roll-ups and the like.  My first use this year is with left-over  taco turkey, veggie rice (I'll share a generic recipe at the end of the post).  It rehydrates really well so it's a great choice for dehydrating.  You can see the larger slots of the trays and the smaller mesh insert that I used.  I have put this onto the larger slotted trays but it will fall through.  (If I had it to do again I'd order enough of these mesh inserts for every tray, they are really convenient).
Here it is spread out and ready to go.  I cut up the larger pieces of veggies and turkey so that it'd dehydrate more evenly and tried to leave some open space within the tray for air circulation.  If you layer it too thick it'll take forever to dehydrate (you're already looking at 10-12 hours).
 This particular dehydrator is really easy to use.  Simply turn the dial to match the type of food your dealing with and plug it in.  I started this at 8am and turned it off around 8pm. 
Here it is after dehydrating. 

I didn't weigh it before and after, I'm sure you can imagine how heavy it was before and now it's extremely light!  Perfect for backcountry camping when you're looking to rid yourself of all heavy products.  I put it into the dehydrator by serving size, estimated based on how I'd serve it at home.  After it's dehydrated I put it into baggies, 2 servings per bag.  This works for us because that's how much our cookware holds.  Enough for the two of us.  This year the kids are going so we'll end up with another set of cookware, also service for two.  Easy way to keep track of meals when I'm packing them up. 
The first night at Yosemite I did the re-hydrating.  I'd read that you only need to boil water and pour it in, let it sit for a couple minutes and  its ready to go.  My husband is a little more finicky with his food and couldn't hardly eat it.  The texture is different if you only rehydrate it for such a short time.  Our solution:  we cooked it in the fire (well, most of the nights, he cooked it in the fire).  We made sure to stop at designated camp sites where fires were allowed, built a nice fire, spread out some coals and added water to the dehydrated food, put it directly onto the coals and let it boil for a while.  No hurry.  I was always starving by dinnertime and ready to eat while hubby was patiently stirring and letting it boil down for what seemed like an eternity.  He heard, "is it ready yet" quite a bit but the food was amazing when rehydrated longer like that.
Sphaghetti rehydrates wonderfully, chili works great too.  Here's my rice concoction:
I start with olive oil heating in a pan, throw in onion and pepper, saute still soft.  Throw in precooked rice, veggies and shredded meat of your choice.  Let the flavors blend. 
Hamburger, turkey, chicken, beef; all works well.  For the turkey meal above I re-heated my turkey in a saucepan with taco seasoning.  Sometimes I use chili seasoning as well. 
Have you ever done any rehydrating?  Have a favorite recipe to share? 

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