Dehydrated Food for Backpacking – Advantages, Types & More Tips
Backpacking is a great way to spend some time in the lap of nature. One of the most important things while going backpacking is to take nutritious meals with you. You won’t find eateries or restaurants when you’re out on a trail or camping in a forest, but you can always carry ingredients that can be cooked easily with very few supplies.
Another important aspect of backpacking is to avoid carrying too much weight which is why carrying ingredients for regular meals doesn’t make sense. In such cases, dehydrated foods, dried ingredients and snacks come up as the best option for backpackers who want to eat nourishing and filling meals while they’re trekking or going on a trail.
There is a whole world of dried food out there and the possibilities offered by dried food are limited only by your imagination. You can make snacks out of dried fruits and you can dry vegetables for rehydrating later and you can also make jerky, fruit leather, and fruit rollups as an energy filled snack for when you don’t have the time to cook a meal and you want to eat on the go.
In this article, we are going to discuss various aspects associated with dehydrated backpacking foods, the type of food that are best, and how you can prepare wholesome meals while you’re out on a trail.
Advantages of Choosing Dehydrated Foods for Backpacking
Dehydrated food get moisture removed from it and with that it also becomes small in size. You can carry a variety of dehydrated food such as fruits, vegetables, jerky, and nuts in a small space in your backpack. Also, dehydrated food is much lighter and you won’t even feel like you’re carrying any additional weight.
If you dry fruits such as apples, apricots, bananas and cherries you can enjoy these delicious snacks when you’re outdoors. As the food dries, the flavors get concentrated and these taste quite delicious whenever you choose to eat them. You can also experiment with tastes while making dried foods by adding spices and salts to it.
If you can dry vegetables, fruits, and nuts, you can pack in really nutritious and calorie rich snacks in your backpack. Dried fruits like apples, cherries, and bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals that can fill you up when you don’t have access to regular meals.
Making your own dried foods at home is really affordable. You can buy fruits and vegetables in bulk from a market and then dry it all in your dehydrator in large batches. You no longer need to buy dried food from the market and you can easily snack on the dried snacks for months.
- Quick Energetic Snacks
Dried foods can provide an instant burst of energy when you need it the most. Dried snacks are rich in flavor and concentrated sugars that offer you the energy to get through the day with a little more ease.
- Free from Chemicals
Making your own dried foods at home is easy and it is also healthy because you can carry out the process under your own supervision. You can rest assured that there are no harmful chemicals or preservatives in the dried foods. Dehydrated foods available in markets also have excessive sugar and salt that are not good for health in the long run.
- Saves Time
Dehydrated food saves a lot of time when it comes to cooking. You can eat the dehydrated fruits as is, and you can mix up the vegetables other ingredients to make soups, stews and other meals. As everything is already cut and prepared, your cooking times reduces considerably.
Different Types of Dehydrated Foods for Backpacking
The choice of foods that you can take while going backpacking is virtually unlimited. You can choose from fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and much more as delicious and nutritious snacks. Here are some examples of the type of dehydrated foods you can take with you.
Once dehydrated, fruits reduce in size considerably and it’s not even bulky to carry them. You can eat these as a snack when you like. Dried fruits provide instant energy and they’re a quick pick-me-up food when you don’t have the time or energy to cook on the trail. You can use your dehydrator to dry out fruits like:
- Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are a great source of protein and iron. These can be used to fortify your meals. Whether it is breakfast or a lunch-time snack, a few nuts in the mix can liven up any meal. The crunchy taste of dried nuts can lift your mood and give you a new burst of energy when you’re backpacking. You can choose from:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
Eating your vegetables while backpacking is essential when you need energy rich and filling meals. These are easy to carry and they won’t take up too much space in your backpack either. When it’s time to cook a meal, these vegetables are quick and easy to rehydrate. Simply boil water, add vegetables and soon you will have ready vegetables for any dish you want to make. For your meals, you can dry vegetables like:
- String beans
Jerky is a top favorite with backpackers as it is easy to make, easy to carry and you can eat it anytime you like. You can use any kind of pre-cooked meat for making jerky and once you’ve dried that meat in the dehydrator, you can store it for taking it with you on your backpacking trip.
- Rice and Pasta
Rice and pasta can form a major part of the dishes that you might want to cook when you’re backpacking. Simply get brown rice or whole grain pasta and cook it at home as you’d cook for a regular meal. You can then dehydrate it for your backpacking trip. When you’re cooking your meal, simply add rice or pasta to boiling water and it will rehydrate in minutes.
Sauces can be great for adding flavor to your meals and providing that extra spice that can make any meal taste like heaven. You can dry sauces in you dehydrator by covering up the tray with an aluminum sheet and spreading the sauce over it. When rehydrating, use one part sauce with three parts water to make a delicious additive to your meal.
How to Prepare Dehydrated Foods for Backpacking
When you’re dehydrating foods at home, there are certain steps you can take to make sure you get great results every time. Some of the basic guidelines are to keep everything clean and sanitized. Wash vegetables and fruits properly and dehydrate at suggested temperatures to get the best results. Here are a few ways in which you can dehydrate foods for your backpacking trip.
- Fruit Preparation
Fruits are easy to prepare for dehydration. Simply cut the fruit in pieces of equal width. Too thick and the fruit will not get dried easily and if it’s too thin, it will crumble once the moisture if out of the slices. Spread the slices on the tray of your dehydrator and dehydrate at 135°F for 7-10 hours to get dried fruits that you can take on your backpacking trip.
- Vegetable Preparation
When dehydrating vegetables, blanch them to remove any destructive enzymes that can change the consistency of the vegetables when stored. Once you’ve blanched the vegetables, slice in equal sized pieces and place on the dehydrator tray with ample space between the pieces. Dehydrate at 120-130°F till the veggies are pliable in texture.
- Jerky Preparation
Jerky preparation methods vary according to the taste and preferences of the person doing the cooking. But some of the basic guidelines to follow while preparing jerky are to pre-cook the meat till it’s cooked or brown in color. You can then place these pieces on a tray and dehydrate at 145°F for approximately 6-7 hours till the meat is leathery and hard.
How to Store and Carry Dehydrated Food When Backpacking
If you’re making large batches of food for your trip then you need to store these in an optimum manner so that the food is alright to eat when you’re backpacking. Here are two ways in which you can store the food.
- Ziplock bags
If your trip is happening soon, in a week or two, after you’re done dehydrating the foods, you can store the food in ziplock bags. Make sure you store each food in individual bags so that there is no mixing of flavors. If you’re planning to take your trip at a later date, it is a better idea to vacuum seal the food into plastic bags and keep the bags away from light and moisture. You can also freeze these bags. Don’t forget to write the name of the food and the date it was packed for future reference.
Properly stored food is good to eat even months after preparation and you can easily rehydrate any kind of food for cooking while you’re backpacking.
- Airtight Mason Jars
Airtight mason jars can be used for storing large quantities of food that you can later transfer to ziplock bags. Make sure you store these jars away from light and moisture. Once you’ve transferred the desired quantity of food from the jar to a bag, you can re-seal the jar once again for future use. Remember to label your jars so there is no confusion as to what you’re packing for your trip.
How to Rehydrate and Cook Dried Food When Backpacking
Cooking the dried vegetables and meat is an easy task when you know the amount you want to make. Most of it, you can learn by experimenting a few times, but there a few basic guidelines that you can follow to rehydrate and cook dehydrated vegetables and meats.
- Cooking Stew
Making soup and stew with dehydrated vegetables is very easy as all you need to do is bring water to boil and add 1 cup of vegetables for 3 cups of water. Keep it simmering and add spices or garnish to taste. Once the vegetables are plump, you have a delicious stew ready. You can add dried potato flakes while the stew is cooking to thicken and flavor it.
- Cooking a Rice Meal
If you have dehydrated rice, you can add it to boiling water, cover it and let it cook for 15 minutes. One cup dehydrated rice in three cups of water is ideal for cooking a meal for two. You can further add dried vegetables and jerky which will get rehydrated and cooked to perfection to give you a fully loaded and filling meal. You can also try adding dried herbs to your rice meal for a unique taste
- Cooking Pasta
Cooked and dehydrated pasta can be a great meal when you’re backpacking. You can also add slices of dehydrated sauces to make pasta taste as per your liking. Simply bring water to boil, add pasta, sauce slices, and dried vegetables to taste. Cover the pan and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. You will have a delicious pasta meal ready!
Dehydrated Food Backpacking Video Guide
Dehydrated foods can be a blessing when you’re backpacking. With the several advantages such as being lightweight, healthy, and quick meals, there is no reason why you should not think about dehydrating foods on your own by using a quality dehydrator. You can also save money by buying fruits in bulk and dehydrating and storing them for use during future backpacking trips.
Today, backpackers all over the world use some kind of dehydrated food when they’re backpacking. When you make your own dehydrated food it offers you a sense of freedom in choosing what you want to eat and how you want to eat it. There are no added chemicals, preservatives, and you also end up saving money as compared to buying backpacking meals from the stores.
So, whenever you head out for backpacking again, plan in advance and prepare your batch of dehydrated snacks and meals for the trip. Remember, keep safety as your focus, maintain cleanliness in your storage and cooking of food and most of all be conscious of nature and your surroundings.
For more information about dehydrated foods and how to prepare them, please browse through this blog. In case you have any queries or questions, please leave a comment and we’ll answer your question at the earliest. Happy backpacking!