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 I 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 Backpackingchef.comwhich 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. This posts are meant to share information about best practices within the backpacking community.
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