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Backpacking meals - Dehydrate on my own or buy components?

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  • Backpacking meals - Dehydrate on my own or buy components?

    I am possibly going to camp in the Brooks Range of Alaska later this summer and it will require me to bring in about 12 days of food.

    We will have horses taking us to a spike camp so it doesn't have to be 100% on my back, BUT, it needs to be compact and light all the same.

    I have dealt with this to some degree before, and I usually use a couple freeze dried pre-made meals that are gluten free and combine them with things like tuna, jerky, nuts, etc no problem. But for almost 2 weeks I am pretty sure my sensitive system will not be happy with that high level of preservatives and 'autolyzed yeast extract' this or that in all the pre made ones.

    SO I am looking at making my own dehydrated meals.

    Anyone have experience with this? I am debating on buying components (like dehydrated meats, egg powder and veggies separately), and creating my own recipes, OR, taking it to a new level and dehydrate everything on my own. Is there much of a difference between freeze dried foods versus ones in an air dehydrator at home? I have never dehydrated meat beyond jerky, so that is a new concept for me and seems crazy.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
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  • #2
    Buy a dehydrator and make some of it yourself.

    I just made beef heart jerky last night and it is really, really good.

    I also made my own pemmican this weekend and it was easier than I expected. Pemmican isn't light, though, but it does satisfy well for its weight. I made my own jerky for the pemmican and used US Wellness Meats beef tallow. I followed these instructions:
    Food, Hydration, and Nutrition The Process of Producing Pemmican -- Forums

    In the past, I've dehydrated fruit. The only worthwhile fruits were bananas and fuyu persimmons. Any other dried fruit is way more economical to purchase.

    Just Fruits makes excellent freeze-dried vegetables and fruits. Freeze-dried is much lighter than dehydrated and basically the exact same stuff, minus the hydrolized xyz that pre-assembled backpacking (or other supermarket shelf) meals use.
    Wilderness Dining -- Camping Food, Backpacking Food -- Experts in Adventure Cuisine! Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Food, and Cookware for Backpacking and Camping

    For pre-made stuff, try Mary Jane's and see if there's anything you could eat. It's supposed to be all organic and I think there are no artificial things in it. People rave about it (and some say not spicy enough) but I have never tried it. MaryJane's Outpost

    Some favorite ingredients of my own (some of these you can get in Asian markets):
    Coconut manna
    Curry spice paste
    Dried whole anchovies
    Dried mushrooms
    Foraged mushrooms and greens
    Medjool dates
    Fresh hard cheeses
    Tuna, salmon, chicken breast and even spam in the foil pouches (yeah, I know, spam is bad)
    Butter (put it in a peanut butter jar so it doesn't leak)

    Also, check Dicentra's awesome site for ideas:
    Home - One Pan Wonders
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


    • #3
      Thanks SB, some great links and a few things I totally wasn't considering!
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      • #4
        I always had some larabars with me on the way up Kilimangaro. They do have a lot of carbs but they are just the fruit and nuts with nothing artificial and if you are hiking, the carbs are a non-isssue.

        +1 to SB's pemmican and jerky ideas. Pemmican is heavy but it is very nutrient and calorie dense for the weight. The native americans used it as travel food forever.

        Tanka Bars and Tanka Bites are yummy but they do have some added sugar to sweeten the cranberries and some preservatives. Almost Primal.