When backpacking, I’m not really a big fan of the pre-made, freeze-dried meals, as I find them a bit lacking in most areas. I’d much rather have ‘proper’ food, whether it’s a rice dish, noodles, potato or pasta based (I tend to find these best as the main ingredient, due to a reasonably high carbohydrate level vs weight) dish. Now, the main ingredients are light enough already, and easy enough to take with you (in the case of potato, in ‘instant mash’ form), but other ingredients, such as meat and vegetables are a bit trickier.
The obvious answer is to buy fresh when you’re out there, but that isn’t always an option, as you could be days away from civilisation and the food won’t keep for long, and fresh food tends to weigh a fair bit when carried, too.
After reading several blogs and books, I’d been led to dehydrating ingredients as an option. I’d looked online, and it seems a dehydrator wasn’t going to be particularly cheap… until I found this one from the German company, Westfalia. At £38.98 (including postage), it was within my meagre means.
The dehydrator arrived yesterday, and as I’m off work today, I’ve decided to give it a go!
Pics below are some of the ingredients I’m attempting to dehydrate.
The dehydrator comes in 5 layers, so I’ve got the 3 ingredients above, plus some cauliflower florets and some baby sweetcorn, to see how they go.
In the case of the carrot, broccoli and cauliflower, they spent 5 mins on the hob in boiling water, to soften them up a little before going into the dehydrator (once drained and dried, obviously!)
The guidelines for the dehydrator advise up to 12 hours for dehydrating to work. It’s been 6 hours so far, and I’ve already taken off the peas and carrots (shown below). I’m guessing that smaller items will dehydrate much faster. I’ve now got another 5 carrots in there, dehydrating along with the other ingredients (which are still nowhere near ready)
The peas now weigh a total of 36g (including Ziploc bag) 1/5 of their original weight, and about the same amount of reduction in space! The carrots are coming in at 18g just now. That’s a pretty massive saving in terms of weight, really!
It’s not all good, though… you really need to have an understanding family for this one, as the dehydrator is really rather noisy – and for 12 hours at a time, that’s a whole lot for the family to put up with!
Still, if you do it in decent sized batches, you’ll not need to use the dehydrator very often. Apparently, dried vegetables can keep for up to a year, so I don’t see why larger batches would be an issue, either.
At this stage, I can’t comment on how well they work in a cooked meal, but you can be sure I will, as soon as I find out for myself. I’ll also update on any issues that occur, such as mold, etc…
I’m thinking this might just work out for me. It’s definitely cheaper than buying pre-dried foods and pre-packed meals, too!