Expeditions – Food Drier

| May 14, 2009

I’ve tried a variety of different foods for expeditions ranging from Himalayan style where you just hire a cook and they take care of it all to dumping hot water in a bag of freeze dried food.  My current, and favorite technique is to eat as much “normal” food as possible as I think it is less of a shock on the system, tastes better and doesn’t take too long to cook.

One of the mainstays of my meals is dehydrated vegetables.  I’ve tried going with the entire dehydrated program (Sweet & Sour Pork, etc.,) and while I’m sure there are dry-masters out there who can do it, my experience was a certified disaster.  I’m still pulling chunks of stringy beef out of my teeth six years later.  But, what does work really well is to buy big bags of frozen veggies, hash-browns and other similar items, then dump them straight into the food drier while they are still frozen.  Very little muss, fuss or hassle.  The only catch is that it takes a day to dry a load, so you have to start a week or so ahead of time.

Straight from the freezer section in a grocery store into the food drier. So simple and easy even a bachelor can do it.

The advantage of dehydrated veggies is that you can make a meal out of them by themselves, or more often, just throw a handful into soups, rice or mashed potatoes and they do a good job rounding out a meal.

My drier is a standard issue Nesco unit with four trays.  I got it as it was basic and cheap, and now after many years of use it has paid itself off many times over.  As a basic example, it will turn eight pounds of mixed veggies into about one pound of very durable, lightweight, easy to eat food.  Yummy.

Help support StraightChuter.com and spork up some veggies with a Snow Peak Titanium Spork on sale now at Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…


Category: Expeditions

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Brad Barlage says:

    I have one of those units also. If you need a second unit to double up your batches let me know.

  2. OMR says:

    Just me or does ‘freeze dried’ leave you full of air? Last winter, before a long ski trip and out of courtesy to my tent-mates, I tried conditioning the GI tract beforehand by dining exclusively F.D. meals (for the week prior to my trip). It didn’t work; still filled the tent with much CO2 – plus the wife kicked me out of the bedroom during the test phase.

  3. dr says:

    Loved the Ronco Food Dehydrator paid program when I was a kid. Now I know why.

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi OMR – I’m not a huge fan of F.D. meals. First off, the servings are tiny. If it says “four servings” that about enough for one person. Second, if prepare them per the instructions, you’ll be eating half crunchy (CO2 WARNING!) half scalding meals. Then, you have to deal with the bags. I’ll do them once in a while for a single night if I want to go as light as possible, but not for extended trips. For me, I always cook my FD meals again anyways, so the speed/ease is negated.

    I recently picked up a book called “Freezer Bag Cooking” which is a nice compromise. You mix up your own food, then cook it up.

  5. Rob says:

    Hey Andrew,
    FBC had a website (freezerbagcooking.com), which they have now combined with TrailCooking.com. Also, have you seen Alton Brown’s food dryer? It’s a number of furnace air filters bungeed together over a box fan. It’s supposed to work pretty well. As for me, I have a pretty simple model I cobbled together with some screening, a lightbulb, a relay, and a computer fan. Total cost ~$10.
    – R

  6. Christian says:

    Vacuum sealer is a key addition. Absolutely minimizes size, retain flavor, and pretty bombproof bags, plus you can cook out of/with them.

  7. Christian says:

    Vacuum sealer is a key addition. Absolutely minimizes size, retain flavor, and pretty bombproof bags, plus you can cook out of/with them.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  8. Kerry says:

    What kind of foods do you dehydrate to bring on longer trips that won’t go bad? Mainly veggies? You mentioned hash browns…how do you bring them back to life? Just add water and cook? I’m new to dehydrating my own foods, but it sounds like the way to go for sure…

  9. Andrew says:

    Hi Kerry – I mainly dehydrated veggies (mixed, hashbrowns, peas, corn, etc) as it is simple and easy. It seems to keep for quite a while, but I’ve never tested it beyond a few weeks after being zipped up in a freezer bag.

    If you are just doing a small handful (like in soup), you can throw them in the water as it is warming up. If you are making a meal out of it, you probably want to let them soak for an hour or so.

%d bloggers like this: