When you plan for camping, deciding whether to buy pre-packaged food or dry your food can be challenging. Dehydrating your fresh food is one of the easiest, cheapest, and rewarding processes.
You may need to dry your fresh foods for camps and future use at home. Thus, drying your food for camping will make them lighter and save you on costs. What's more, buying already prepared and packaged food is also a great option.
Here is a complete guide on preparing your dehydrated food for camping.
Option 1: Get Natural Dried Food
Are you bothered about what to pack for your camping week? Do not worry as there is a variety of all you may need from your grocery store.
The only secret here is to choose the type of foods you prefer from the array. That's because you may not want to pack foods that you may end up throwing away and starving at the camp.
Dried Foods You Can Get in Grocery Stores
There are so many dehydrated and pre-packaged foods for you to choose from in grocery stores. So, here is a detailed list of a few of the top dry foods you will not miss at the grocery store.
1. Potato Chips
It is one of the top best snacks you don't want to miss in your packing. Potato chips are weightless and suitable while traveling or during brief breaks.
2. Banana Chips
Banana chips can be another snack to put at the top of your list. What's more, banana chips are healthier as they contain potassium and less grease. You can eat banana chips as a quick snack or add them to your pancakes or cereals.
3. Fruit Snack
You will want to have some delectable treats during your adventures. Fresh fruits can be heavy and bulky for a trip, and you can only manage to carry a few. Thus, you may love to go for alternatives that will meet the same need without a lot of hustle.
Dried fruits like mangoes, blueberries, raspberries, and apples are good and nutritious.
4. Bacon Bits
If you are working on a low-carb diet, then bacon crumbles can be the best choice to pick. Bacon spit doesn't take much space. It's also a filling snack you can add to soups, rice, or eggs.
5. Bowls of Cereal
Cereals are standard for our daily breakfast because of their nutritious value. They will fill you with the energy to start your day.
Cereals are weightless, and thus, they will be perfect for packing for your camping. Moreover, you can eat cereals as an on-the-go snack or meal when mixed with milk.
6. Powdered Milk
Dairy products may need refrigeration to stay fresh. Carrying fresh milk can be heavy and bulky.
Packaged powdered milk is an alternative option you will not want to miss out on at the moment. You will need milk for your cereals, coffee, or creamy soups.
7. Pancake Mix
You see, it will not be easy for you to pack all the ingredients for preparing pancakes. It might mean getting a separate small bag for the pancake preparation.
Pancake mix is a blast of carbohydrates you may want to start your mornings at the camp. It will only need water and a pan to prepare the mix. Besides, you will also have the option of carrying only the quantity you will need for your whole camping days.
Pasta is easy to prepare and is also lightweight to carry. Moreover, pasta is a quick meal, and you will only need boiling water to prepare. Pasta can give you a quick energy boost and not take a lot of space, either.
If you are a big fan of rice, then go for it. Instant rice is light and can use it as a filling dish. You can combine rice with soups or meat to add calories and minerals before going for a hike. You will only need hot water to prepare your instant rice.
Beans are an instant and convenient meal as a source of carbs, vitamins, and proteins. Dehydrated beans are light. You can eat beans with stews, rice, eggs, chips, or an extra meal of your choice.
Option 2: Dehydrating Your Food at Home
Your food should dry well to avoid spoiling fast. Thus you should ensure to cut all your foods into a uniform size and thickness. There are tools you can use for measurements.
A hand peeler or the tools you have available at home to peel and slice your food into desired sizes. For best results, cut fruits and vegetables in not more than 1/2 inch thick. Meat needs higher temperatures and more time to dry; hence you should use thinner slices.
You may prefer to blanch some of your vegetables and meat before placing them in the dehydrator.
5 Methods of Dehydrating Your Food at Home for Camping
When you want to dehydrate fresh food, you need to be careful with the kind of method. Some methods might be more successful and quick than others. You can choose from some ways below.
1. Air Drying
Air drying was a method used in ancient times but recommendable to-date. Air-drying happens in a shade whereby you will allow your fresh foods to dry away from direct sun. The air-drying method will help protect your food from losing essential nutrients. You can use this method to dry greens or even herbs.
2. Sun Drying
Sun-drying may sound old school, but it's more accessible, cheap, and inevitable. Sun-drying applies to people living in places with long periods of sunshine. Some foods like fruits will take a longer time to dry. You can place your food on a clean mesh surface, and you are good to go.
3. Solar Drying
This method needs you to have a solar-powered dehydrator. Solar dehydrators need to be outdoors because they use the sun to dry your food. Their design is like small tabletop greenhouses.
4. Electric Dehydrating
You will need to use an electric dehydrator for the electric food dehydration method. The electric dehydrators are more advanced and have fans and temperature regulation options.
Moreover, you can adjust your drying speed depending on the type of food you are drying and the time limit. You may consider using the electric dehydrator in an open place because of the heat and noise.
5. Oven Drying
Oven drying may not be the best, but it's quick and will save you on the extra budget for new equipment. Also, you will need to be a bit more careful when drying your food using an oven.
The temperatures should be low, not exceeding 140F, to avoid cooking the food instead.
1. Foods You Can Dehydrate for Camping at Home
Below is a list of foods that anyone can dehydrate quickly, and that too at home!
- Sweet potato
2. How to Dehydrate Meat for Camping?
Step 1: Make sure your meat is fresh and with low fat. Fat spoils fast, and you don't want your food to go bad soon before serving the purpose.
Step 2: After that, cut your meat into thin and uniform strips.
Step 3: You can marinate your meat using salt and any other preferred spices. Then refrigerate for 3 hours.
Step 4: Brush off the spices and dehydrate at 145F until they crack but do not over dry. Pat dry and pack as desired. Dehydrate ground meat at the same temperatures.
3. How to Dehydrate Fruits for Camping?
Step 1: If you want to achieve the best results, choose ripe and high-quality fruits. Besides, do not pick fruits that have over ripped.
Step 2: Wash the fruits and slice into uniform thickness.
Step 3: Place your sliced fruits in dehydrating trays. Depending on what method you are using, the temperature should not exceed 145F.
The process may take 6 to 36 hours. Thus, you will need to check after every 2 hours to ensure everything is going on well.
4. How to Dehydrate Vegetables for Camping?
Vegetables are a little more delicate and take less time to dry.
Step 1: Choose fresh vegetables and the best quality. It's good to preserve their freshness through steaming when necessary before drying them. Vegetables like tomatoes do not need blanching.
Step 2: Place your vegetables on dehydrating trays and adjust the temperatures. But, do not exceed 125F.
Step 3: Dehydrate your onions and tomatoes on a separate tray. Onions and tomatoes will need different levels of temperatures of up to 145F.
Option 3: Purchasing Dehydrated Meals for Camping
Preparing your dehydrated food is excellent while buying already prepared and packaged food is also a great option.
Before you embark on shopping for your camp foods, you need to consider many things. First, you need to know how long you will go camping.
The second major thing to focus on is the main activities you will carry on during camping. These two things will give you an idea of the kind of food you will need to pack.
During camping, your body will need a lot of energy. Ensure you pack enough proteins, carbs, and fats to sustain the energy you need for camping. Do not focus on the weight only but also the nutritious factor when selecting your foods.
How to Prepare and Eat Dehydrated Food?
Camping foods should always be easy and fast to prepare. It is because you will have limited resources and time to prepare a whole meal from scratch. That's why you are always advised to pick on foods that will need less effort to prepare and eat.
Here, we will discuss easy ways to prepare and eat your backpacked food while camping.
Generally, use an equal measure of water and food to reconstitute dehydrated foods. It should take you about 20- 30 minutes to prepare dehydrated meals.
Step 1: Put your food in a pot and add an equal measure of water to soak. Allow it to soak for five minutes until you see it's well soaked.
Step 2: Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Always cover your food to prevent dirt from getting in and for easier and faster cooking.
Step 3: You can turn off the heat but do not uncover the food until it gets rehydrated and soft. Here you will need to wait for about 10 minutes more.
Step 4: Add any seasoning or extras you carried. Now, it is all set to serve up and enjoy.
You can follow the above procedure to prepare all your dehydrated foods. Fruits and ready-to-eat snacks are exceptional.
Other foods like cereals will always follow the same procedure you use at home. Before you add the powdered milk to your cereals, you will need to mix it with water first. You can also eat the cereals as an on-the-go snack.
You may want to eat most of your snacks from the packaging to avoid the cleaning process after.
Dehydrated Food Buying Guide
There are so many vital things to look after when buying dehydrated food for your camping trip. It's not advisable to pick any edible food or snack.
1. Cooking Process
Choose foods that will be easier and faster to reconstitute. Ensure the dehydrated food will take you at least 30 minutes to soak and heat. You will not love to wait for over an hour to rehydrate your dehydrated food to have a meal.
You may not know how the food tastes from the packaging, but it's an essential factor to consider. Besides, you would not like to have a meal that tastes terrible or unpleasant taste. You will also not love to spend your money on food you will not enjoy.
It's also important to check information on the ingredients used. Always try to stick to foods that have ingredients you recognize. You don't want to have allergy reactions or stomach upsets out there in the wilderness.
It may take you long before you get proper medical help and even ruin your camping experience.
4. Food Weight
Weight is significant because it is the reason you are buying dehydrated foods and not fresh ones. Most dehydrated foods and snacks weigh very little, and so weight should not be of much worry.
Ensure the weight of the foods you are purchasing doesn't exceed the desired weight but is enough.
5. Nutritious Value of the Dehydrated Food
A well-balanced meal is good for you and your health, especially after a hike. Moreover, air-dried foods are more nutritious than other dehydrated foods. Air drying retains most of the food nutrients.
You will need a combination of proteins, carbs, and fats to complete your meal for total energy.
Always check on the information on the packages to ensure you balance your foods well.
The cost of the food you will buy for your camping depends on your budget. But, buying dehydrated foods in bulk is one way of saving on costs. You can then buy the packaging bags to pack your food.
It will also allow you to measure the exact quantities you need per serving to avoid waste. You can also store any remaining food be for future use.
Best Freeze Dry Food Brands
Here are the top best brands of backpacking foods for camping you may like to try out.
1. Alpine Aire
Alpine is not new in the industry of making freeze-dried backpacking foods. You can buy their meals both online and in specialty shops around you.
Some of the company's meals include; Himalayan Lentils & Rice and Wild Thyme Turkey. The company also makes exciting deserts, dips, and snacks for your camping.
Their meals are pretty straightforward and quick to prepare as you only need hot water to soak them off.
2. Backpacker's Pantry
It is one top brand for light, nutritious trail meals. The company produces a diversity of meals and flavors. They package their meals into pouches for single servings and large cans for groups.
The good thing about the pouches, you can use them to soak the foods and eat. So no worrying about carrying dishes around. The pouches' designs allow them to sit on a surface, so you don't have to worry about falling off.
3. Mountain House
The mountain house company is famous for its home-style prepared American meals. The meals are hearty and have consistent flavors. Their meals are delicious that are easy to make, even in emergencies.
Buy freeze-dried meals from mountain house for your breakfast, dessert, and dinner. Their meals are available both online and in outdoor shops.
4. Mary Janes Farm
Mary Janes Farm prepares various meals for breakfast, dessert, and dinner. Their meals are quick and easy to soak and eat on Trail.
They provide different packaging options, including outpost pouches for backpacking. Their outpost pouches have a box bottom to allow them to stand on surfaces. The pouches are also designed for soaking and eating purposes.
5. Packit Gourmet
Packit Gourmet Company prioritizes wholesome foods and the best homemade flavors. Moreover, they use high-quality dehydrated foods and freeze-dried produce for classy meals. The company provides extras such as hot sauce, cheese, and olive oil for your meals.
Their meals are easy to prepare, and you can buy their meals on their website or outdoor shops.
1. How Long Should Dehydrated Food Last?
Dehydrated food generally lasts longer than fresh food. The essence of dehydrating food is not only to reduce its weight but to preserve the food. Yet, different dehydrated foods have different lifespans. It all depends on how well they dehydrated. Always check the expiry information on the package before use.
2. Are Freeze-Dried Meals Better for Camping?
Freeze-dried foods are lighter and keep more nutrients as compared to dehydrated foods. But, certain foods like apples taste better when dehydrated than when freeze-dried. Freeze-dried foods have a longer shelf life and taste better than dehydrated foods.
What is your take on our today's post about dehydrated food? Go ahead and buy some dehydrated foods mentioned here. You can also follow the simple yet straightforward buying guide. Happy camping!