Dehydrating Food for Backpacking & Kayaking Trips

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Be prepared to eat just like you do at home during your next backpacking or kayaking trip! Commercially packaged dried food is available at most outdoor leisure stores, but can be pricey and quite tasteless compared to the meals you are used to making at home. However, dried food is a necessity when you have to travel light and have restricted baggage space.

Easily hydrated by adding water and cooking in a pot, these ‘meals in pouch’ provide much needed sustenance and energy during outdoor adventures. Drying food can be done using solar power, an oven or an electric dehydrator. I do prefer my electric dehydrator as I consider it more efficient in both time and fuss.

Once you have an idea of the kinds of foods you want to dry, research the best equipment for you. Using an electric dehydrator I can dry my favourite chilli recipe until it is crispy dry. Chilli is great because the food particles are fairly small. I can dry meals that are thicker, like stews, by chopping or processing into smaller pieces before placing on a fruit leather sheet in my dehydrator.

Dry your favourite pasta and rice dish leftovers. Dishes containing high liquid vegetable will take longer to dry. Cook up your favourite oatmeal recipe with milk and dry into a granola. Add your favourite dried fruits before packaging, the milk with easily rehydrate with water when you are ready to eat. Fruit and vegetable leathers are easily made by pureeing into a liquid and drying on the solid sheets.

Build in extra nutrition with protein powder, supplements or herbs. Roll the sheets of food once dry to save space. Diced fruits and vegetables are easily dried. Just remember, the smaller the piece the quicker it will dry. Flaked dried vegetables will rehydrate quicker than larger pieces. When drying fully cooked meals, consider portion size before drying so that you can prepare the right size meals for travelling. For example, a cup of cooked chilli can give you less than half a cup of dried chilli. So an appropriate portion size for travel would be half a cup of dried chilli.

Drying foods separately such as rice, potatoes, meats, and vegetables allows you to mix food in pouches with your favourite herbs, spices and dried sauces. Package dried food in Ziploc bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing. For extended trips, ensure that the pouches are packed tightly in a waterproof environment.

To rehydrate most of your meals you can simply add enough water to fully cover the food, bring to a boil and allow to steep until fully hydrated, stirring regularly. For more information on dehydrators and drying foods, plus our favourite dried food recipes visit us at Scoops Natural Foods.

Pam Stiles is the owner of Scoops Natural Foods at Whippletree Junction.

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