Let’s Get Dehydrated!
By: Shannon Budesilic
Any back-country dehydrating enthusiasts out there? This weekend, I managed to dehydrate some beautiful kiwi (little green, sweet gems) and some saskatoons and cranberries. The saskatoons, being a little dry already, turned out a little like saska-raisins, which are cool little blue shriveled things to behold (saska-raisins…I wonder if we can patent that one?). I had to halve the cranberries to get them to dry out because of their initial juiciness. I dehydrated them from thawed/frozen (believe it or not) and they turned out great! I love adding the berries and fruit to my breakfast portions, or eating them as a sweet little snack on the trail. The apple chips I prepared are also a good quality standby with a long shelf life.
Have you tried your hand at dehydrating lean ground beef? We, my carnivore hubby and I, always feel like some good quality protein is much needed after a few days on the trail. I will add the dried ground beef to any of my curry dishes, or to my pasta sauce (either one of these sauces dehydrates to a nice, useable leather that rehydrates quite easily on the trail). Dried meat products, like beef, if prepared properly, will last for up to six months. I may store my dried beef in the freezer prior to use, just in case.
I also dehydrated some home-made French (split yellow) pea soup and it turned out beautifully! Basically, you make the soup (ensure the veggie or meat bits are tiny so they dry completely; or blend the soup prior to dehydrating), spread a 1 cup of soup onto a plastic dehydrating sheet, and dry it out at medium temperature until very dry. On the trail, I reconstitute with an equal amount of water (ie. 1 cup dry soup to 1 cup hot water; typically, 1:1 ratio depending on how thick your prefer your soups). Try reconstituting this in a thermos if eating out on a winter adventure (works beautifully on the trail). You can add instant rice to beef it up if you like. If you plan ahead, the thermos will allow you to rehydrate a meal (such as lunch or dinner) as you enjoy the sights along the trail.
I know some good quality dehydrated meals are available (ie. Yamnuska), and the quality is getting better, but you can’t beat something that is homemade. For more inspiration, stay tuned for the next installment of Backcountry Kitchen!