Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Using a home dehydrator for tramping food...

Home dehydrating your tramping meals...

I haven't posted for awhile as I have not been for any tramping trips over the last couple of weeks. The weather combined with study, the kids school camps and work have curtailed my tramping considerably. 

Jon out walking for fitness in mid May

I am still walking to maintain my fitness, on a Saturday, as weather permits.  I usually walk along the beach from Waimariri to Spencer Park (2-3 hours) as well as trips along the Port Hills. 

Longer term, I am planning an overnight trip to Nina Hut towards the end of the month as well as a few day trips over the next couple of weeks to Mt Grey, Lewis Pass and sections of the Christchurch 360 Trail. I have also arranged to walk the Abel Tasman Coastal Track the last week of August, something I am really looking forward to (NB: I had to cancel this trip due to unforeseen circumstances but it is just as well as there was some bad weather that week anyway...).

Anyway enough of that, here are a couple of tramping meal recipes I have made before and enjoyed....

Dehydrator heaven

My tramping food style is to eat from the bag or prepare simple home-made tramping meals. While there are a lot of commercially made ingredients available there are some significant omissions notably vegetables other than peas, carrots and corn and meat other than beef mince.

  I got a food dehydrator for Christmas last year and have started furiously dehydrating meat and vegetables to use in my tramping meals.
Sunbeam home food dehydrator

  Mine is a  Sunbeam DT5600 model which cost  $200 NZD, it sounds like a lot but some models retail for over $500.

So Jon, what can I dehydrate?

The world is your oyster really, you can literally dehydrate just about everything.

Things that dehydrate well are; any kind of fruit, onions, celery, mushrooms (all available commercially), capsicum, courgettes, pumpkin, beans, corn and cabbage. I was surprised how well cabbage and sauerkraut dehydrate. I have a nice recipe for sauerkraut and sausages.....mmmmmmm!

Dehydrated Sauerkraut - delicious!

This is 500gms of Sauerkraut after dehydration

Meat does not dehydrate easily, it takes a long time and has a limited shelf life outside of the freezer. Better to use freeze dried or commercially produced versions if you can. Eggplant, it is tough and leathery with an off putting colour when dried. Parsnip...not good! Tofu....just don't do it...styrofoam is the closest thing I can think of...yeeruucckkk!

Do try this at home...

I am an inveterate collector of trail cooking books and recipes. I currently have 11 books on backpacking food as well as numerous recipe files from a variety of web pages, books etc.

The Backpacking Chef awesome source of meal ideas!

Both of the following recipes are from the BackpackingChef website, adapted for my personal preferences.

Backpacking Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional French dish of stewed vegetables including eggplant, onions, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes—seasoned with garlic and herbs. Zucchini and capsicum dehydrate and rehydrate well,  my version dispenses with the eggplant.

Easy cook ratatouille anyone?

I like this with some tuna as the fish and vegetables have very complimentary flavours.

Serves 1
·         1 cup dried zucchini
·         2 Tbsp. dried onions
·         3 Tbsp. assorted dried capsicum
·         3 Tbsp. sun dried tomato’s
·         1 garlic clove, smashed, finely diced
·         1 Tbsp. tomato concentrate or 1 pkt tomato Cup o’ Soup
·         Pinch fennel seeds
·         Pinch mixed herbs or dried thyme
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         1 tsp. olive oil
At Home:
Pack all dried vegetables, herbs and soup in a sandwich sized zip-lock bag.
In a separate snack size bag add the sun dried tomato, tomato concentrate if using and peeled/diced garlic clove.

On the Trail:
Combine dried vegetable mix with 1½ cups water in your pot and rehydrate for five to ten minutes. For larger servings, just add equal parts of dry Ratatouille ingredients and water. Add extra water as required. 
Light stove, add olive oil, tomato paste (if using) and garlic to vegetables and heat until nice and warm. It is not necessary to maintain a boil. 
Transfer pot to an insulating cosy for another ten minutes where your meal will continue to rehydrate. 
To enjoy this meal with rice or macaroni, combine ½ cup Ratatouille dry mix, ½ cup instant or dried rice or macaroni, and one cup water. If using macaroni, add a quarter cup more water. Bring to a boil for one minute. Turn off stove and wait ten minutes with lid on pot. 

Unstuffed Peppers

This recipe is awesome, I've made it a couple of times now and it is totally delicious, a great combination of rice, beef and vegetables. Try it- you will like it!

Delicious un-stuffed peppers!


·         ½ Cup dried or instant rice
·         ¼ Cup ground beef, dried
·         ¼ Cup bell peppers, dried
·         1 Tbsp. dried onions
·         2 Tbsp. sundried tomato, diced
·         1 pkt. Tomato Cup o’ Soup
·         2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
·         1¼ cups water

At Home:

Pack Parmesan cheese, sundried tomato and tomato soup separately in small plastic bags. Enclose in a larger plastic bag with rice, ground beef, onions and peppers. 

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients except Parmesan cheese in pot with water and soak for five minutes.

Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking with the lid on for one minute.

Remove pot from stove place in cosy and wait ten minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese before serving.

Curried mince with cabbage and rice

Curried mince with cabbage and rice
This recipe is my interpretation of a Countdown supermarket recipe in their feed four for $15 recipe range. This uses commercially available and home dried ingredients to make a really delicious tramping meal. Cabbage is one of the main ingredients and dehydrates surprisingly well. 

Use Ramen noodles instead of rice and add some soya sauce and you have made Mince Chow Mein aka Chop Suey!

Servings: 1

·         ½ Cup Instant or Dried Rice or 1 pkt. Ramen, crushed, without flavour packet
·         ¼ Cup F/D mince or dried mince
·         ¼ Cup dried cabbage or sauerkraut
·         1pkt. chicken noodle Cup o’ Soup
·         2 Tbsp. dried peas
·         1 Tbsp. dried onion
·         1 tsp. Curry Powder
·         1 Tbsp. soya sauce (for Chow Mein)
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         1¼ Cups water

At Home:

Place all dry items in sandwich size zip-lock bag. For freezer bag variant place dried vegetables in snack sized bag, add to main bag with other dry ingredients. 

On the Trail:

Cook variant: Boil 1¼ Cups water. Combine all ingredients with water in pot and cook for 3 minutes. Insulate pot and wait ten minutes. 

Freezer bag variant: Rehydrate dried vegetables for 5 minutes in separate bag. Add hot water to main bag, drain vegetables and add to rice mixture. Place in cosy, wait 10 minutes and enjoy.

So there you have just three of my ever expanding repertoire of tramping meals, if any take your fancy I would encourage you to give them a go. I thoroughly recommend you go and buy a dehydrator, it is an extremely useful piece of kit for the outdoor enthusiast.