Best Outdoor Blogs: Dehydrating Food

L'EQUIP Dehydrator Model 528

L'EQUIP Dehydrator Model 528

Dehydrating your own food for backpacking and camping is a great way to save money, reduce your pack weight, and eat much more interesting food on the trail. There was a time when I never, ever thought I’d be interested in this, but with all of the hiking I’ve done over the past few years, my resolve to only boil water in my cooking pots is breaking down. That’s not to say that I am finished with Freezer Bag Cooking. Far from it, since dehydrated food and FBC go hand-in-hand, but I’m at the point now where I would consider making my cooking pot dirty for an excellent backpacking meal.

So, this month I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about dehydrating your own backpacking food and I wanted to call your attention to some of the best resources that I’ve found on the web: The best outdoor web site I’ve found is Trail Cooking run by Sarah Kirkconnell and her husband. This site contains straightforward advice about what dehydrator to buy, how to get started dehydrating simple ingredients, and food preparation tips. It contains many fine recipes as well as a recipe calculator so you calculate exactly what amounts to add for multiple servings.

Following Sarah’s instructions is easy, and as I write this post, my wife and IĀ are dehydrating our first batch of food, frozen corn, in the L’Equip Food Dehydrator that Sarah recommends on her site. My wife, who usually makes fun of my gadgets is also interested in using the dehydrator to preserve the fruits and vegetables that we get each week from our organic farm share. Later in the week, I’ll try dehydrating pasta, spaghetti sauce and mashed yams. This is exciting!

There are also some other good web sites about dehydration and backpacking that I’ve found including One Pan Wonders and Backpackingchef. One Pan Wonders, which is not exclusively about dehydration, has a great page on Dips, Spreads and Sauces that do require a dehydrator to make. Backpackingchef.com also has a lot of great recipes and tips, although he has an odd fascination with making bark out of some foods like pasta and sauce that I think I’d rather mix together in camp instead of eating as a soupy pre-prepared mush. I guess I’ll need to experiment with this myself.

If you are a more of a visual learner, I suggest you also check out this 10 part video series about dehydrating food that I found on YouTube. It’s more geared to emergency preparedness and urban homesteading than backpacking, but it does provide you with a complete overview of how far you can take food dehydration if you want to. It is after all, a great way to save a lot of money these days when times are tight.

If you are just getting started with dehydrating your food, my advice is to go slow and learn all about it first. There is a serious up-front time commitment involved in building your basic food larder and you need to decide if you are willing to make it. There is also a certain amount of chemistry you need to learn about how to prep foods for a dehydrator, but these sites and videos teach you what you need to know to get started. My strategy is to start by dehydrating simple ingredients that I can combine to make backpacking suppers on the trail and then advance to the stage where I’m cooking complete recipes at home and then dehydrating them.

If you’ve found other good resources about food dehydration that you’d like to share including books, other web sites, or based on your own experience, please leave a comment below. As always, please refrain from self-promotion. These monthly posts are meant to share information about best practices within the backpacking community.

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14 Responses to Best Outdoor Blogs: Dehydrating Food

  1. Yeti June 30, 2009 at 4:36 am #

    Great post! A dehydrator is definitely one of the best pre trip prep tools you can have, especially once you learn a few tricks and get the meals you want. Pair this with a vacuum sealer and you are set!

  2. Earlylite June 30, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    One step ahead of you. After much deliberation, I've decided to buy a Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer: same brand that Sarah uses. There are very few brands of vacuum sealers available on the market and the Foodsavers have mixed reliability reviews on Amazon, so I'm going to buy it at a big box store near my house in case I need to return it. What kind do you have?

  3. Sarah Kirkconnell June 30, 2009 at 5:48 am #

    I'd say the only issue I have had with my Food Saver is after all these years the sealing strip is wearing out…I need to contact the company to see if it can be replaced. But, getting one at Costco is even better…since they have such a good return policy ;-)

    And just like you…TrailCooking came out of FreezerBagCooking – where after a couple years I wanted to be able to do more, showcase more and heck, cook more! :-D

  4. Dicentra June 30, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    Thanks for the mention!! I hope you also found the dehydrator pages, which deals with individual ingredients.

    One Pan Wonders was developed with sort of an anti-dehydrator theme to it… I came around too! :)

  5. Valgard June 30, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    finally came around to dehydrating food eh. A great resource and guide to dehydrating I found is 2 books "Backcountry Cooking" and "More Backcountry Cooking" both by Dorcas Miller. You can find them both on http://www.mountaineersbooks.org. I have been using both these books as a resource for deciding what kind of food I will bring when I camp and consider them a must have if you enjoy good food but arnt sure how to go about making or carrying all the ingredients into the woods.

    the ISBN numbers are

    978-0-89886-551-6

    978-0-89886-900-2

  6. Robyn June 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    This food dehydrator calculator estimates food weights post dehydration. A useful tool for figuring pack weight. Best

  7. Jeremy Laporte June 30, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    Thanks again for a great post. I'm not ready to move to dehydration but I will follow your exploration closely.

  8. Desert Dog July 7, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    Love your site.

    I recently bought a cheapo dryer to try out drying. Works pretty good but you have to be patient. Ended up not sleeping much that first night because I put everything in late and I didn't want to have dust in the morning. Still this is a great way to save money and expand your menu.

  9. Sarah Kirkconnell September 3, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    I never did say thanks for the great article :)

  10. Diane Mancino April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    You must check out Alton Brown's (food network)method for making beef jerky. no heat! your equiptment is a box fan and furnace filters. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/be

  11. M. Charlot January 23, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Great article. Dehydrated food is best for backpacking camping.

  12. Michelle Olsen February 23, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    There are some good dehydrators and smokers that are real simple to use and affordable. These work great for having food to snack on and refuel when you're hiking too.

    There's also a guidebook you can get on how to make Jerky from meat or fruit and it also shows you how to make Pemmican, you find it How to Make Jerky and Pemmican<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=ultrarevie-20&l=as2&o=1&a=193566302X&quot; width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

    here.

  13. Beth Wagenius September 5, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    Yes, this is a great article! I have been looking for the best sources of backpack cooking in hopeful anticipation of doing more hiking/backpacking. I believe I have found a few. Thanks for all the good links!

  14. Sue September 12, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Thanks for this excellent information on dehydrating. I am learning more and more about the craft and loving it. I liked the video you posted here. Lots of great tips.

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