Dehydration: I’m talking food not a first aid scenario this month.
My Excalibur dehydrator has been working overtime this month in preparation for our nine-day canoe trip in Temagami. I thought I’d share some of the reasons why I’m dehydrating food, where I’m sourcing recipes, and what my process is.
This is the simplest question to answer first. I’ll save on space and weight by dehydrating seven out of eight dinners. I’ve also dehydrated one lunch, one breakfast, and ingredients for two other lunches. Glass is never a good idea in the backcountry. Most parks ban cans and glass. (Side note: My go-to solution to get around those two issues on shorter trips is to store contents in separate Nalgene bottles.)
I also dehydrate meals so that the fresh food doesn’t spoil as the trip carries on.
Sources for Recipes
Once you’re comfortable with your dehydrator, many of your cookbook recipes will convert well to a dehydrated meal. I started with Laurie Ann March’s A Fork in the Trail for many of her recipes and dehydrating guidance. I also like Black Feather’s camp cookbook, Camp Cooking in the Wild. Your dehydrator will likely come with a guide and some recipe ideas. Mine came with a guide that recommends dehydrating individual ingredients and then combining them to create a meal. That’s not how I operate which leads me to…
I cooked one recipe at a time – dal, for example. I like to taste the recipe first to ensure that it tastes as I expect it to. (The dal was delicious – extra gingery!) Then I let it cool overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, I spoon the cooled meal onto each tray into thin layers. My version comes with nine trays. I dehydrate it for the recommended time and temperature before checking to see if it’s dry and crumbly. Because we’ve had a lot of rain in southern Ontario this month, my dehydration times have been longer than the recommended time. Then I store the dry, crumbly mixture in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. If you have access to a vacuum sealer, that will extend the life of your meal even further.
If dehydrators are too expensive for your budget, you can achieve the same results with an oven on a low temperature. If this all sounds like too much work, there are also any number of ready-to-eat meal companies that produce tasty dehydrated or freeze-dried meals. This works well if you’re solo tripping or traveling with a smaller group.
I’ve experimented with our Moroccan stew recipe a number of times this year. I’m delighted each time it tastes the same as if I had cooked it that day.
So if you’re looking to save a little weight and space on your next trip and you enjoy cooking, consider dehydrating your favorite meals and snacks.
Or…let us take care of all the details for you. We would love to see you out on trip!