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View Full Version : DIY-dehydrated meals - how long to keep?



Leo L.
09-16-2017, 05:59
Got the idea from here on WB to DIY-dehydrate meals, and after some first tries we are fascinated about this way.
The first few DIY-meals we had on our most recent hikes were easy to rehydrate, and tasted fantastic.
All we did was to cook more than we actually needed for lunch at home, dehydrate the leftover and put it into ziplock bags.

Now the question came up, how would you store such DIY-dehydrated meals, and how long could you keep it while still being good to eat?

Deacon
09-16-2017, 06:39
I had a few extra meals made with beef and pork left over last year. I dehydrated them in January, and they were still good in September. That's eight months, stored in a drawer in my closet.

They were not vacuum packed, just stored in a ziploc freezer bag.

Leo L.
09-16-2017, 06:48
Thanks, that is exactly the info I was hoping for.

grubbster
09-16-2017, 07:19
Storing in the freezer after dehydration will extend this even farther. A year storage would be no problem.

MuddyWaters
09-16-2017, 10:21
Storing in the freezer after dehydration will extend this even farther. A year storage would be no problem.
and vaccum sealing with an o2 scavenger pack might extend it even farther.

It depends on how much fats and oils, because those go rancid. They also make food better.
But most people will probably make a few weeks before they go hike...so theres nothing really to be concerned about.
If you have something a bit oily, make it right before leave, eat it first.

Hosh
09-16-2017, 10:24
I have been home dehydrating for several years. I tend to over-dry my meals, store the bulk in mason jars that are vacuum sealed with the canister attachment on my FoodSaver. These are then stored in a freezer.

I have thrown out 3 year old hamburger gravel that was probably still eatable, but didn't want to take the risk. Removing oxygen either thru vacuum sealing or oxygen absorbers is key, also keeping fat content to minimum.

This guy has some very good recipes and advise, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5339C3EC3CB8226C

Maineiac64
09-16-2017, 11:40
You can also buy desicant to prolong shelf life.

RangerZ
09-16-2017, 21:02
and vaccum sealing with an o2 scavenger pack might extend it even farther.

It depends on how much fats and oils, because those go rancid. They also make food better.
But most people will probably make a few weeks before they go hike...so theres nothing really to be concerned about.
If you have something a bit oily, make it right before leave, eat it first.

i dehydrated some left over GEN Tso's chicken and wasn't entirely happy with how it dried, even over night. I'm storing it in the freezer and will use it as a first night's meal.

I'll probably be hungry again an hour later.

Hosh
09-16-2017, 21:07
I have found that it's better to use canned chicken or pressure cook your own. Regular chicken dries really, really hard and takes forever to re-hydrate. For both tuna and chicken, I use a food processor or blender to pulverize the meats. Taste remains the same, but re-hydration is much faster, softer.

Leo L.
09-18-2017, 02:24
Thanks again.
I try to go vegetairan, mostly.
Not because I'm a V., but because I belive that its much easier to poison yourself with meat that has gone wrong than with veggies.
We will not run out of receips anytime soon, my wife is a very passionate cook.
So now thanks to your hints we are going to bring part of our great everday meals over to the outdoors!
We are considering to get a vacuum sealing device.
Dehydrating food we do in the baking oven, right now. Keeping the ovens door gaping open a bit to let the moist escape. Electricity from our PV on the roof.

RangerZ
10-03-2017, 20:34
i dehydrated some left over GEN Tso's chicken and wasn't entirely happy with how it dried, even over night. I'm storing it in the freezer and will use it as a first night's meal.

I'll probably be hungry again an hour later.


I took a meal out two weeks ago. It rehydrated okay but the taste was - wait for it - Tso-Tso. Packets of duck sauce helped the taste. I'll finish the rest but that will be it.

theinfamousj
10-05-2017, 16:33
I took a meal out two weeks ago. It rehydrated okay but the taste was - wait for it - Tso-Tso.

I wish there was a button for "I appreciate the pun".

Sent from my SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

RangerZ
10-05-2017, 18:21
I wish there was a button for "I appreciate the pun".
Sent from my SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

Thanks, it's nice to be appreciated.

Leo L.
10-09-2017, 07:13
One question comes up regarding DIY dehydrated meals, how do you know how much water to add for rehydration?
Do you weight the fresh food and again after dehydration (and write it down on the pack), or do you just estimate?

RangerZ
10-09-2017, 09:31
I think a general answer is to just cover the food in your pot. I FBC so it's a little bit harder to estimate. I add water and check in a couple of minutes and maybe add more. Too much and you have soup. Some then carry mashed potatoes to thicken. Like everything else you figure it out.

Since I use the left over water in my pot for tea sometimes I get tea flavored food.

Deacon
10-09-2017, 10:04
One question comes up regarding DIY dehydrated meals, how do you know how much water to add for rehydration?
Do you weight the fresh food and again after dehydration (and write it down on the pack), or do you just estimate?

Iíve worked this out with trial and error. For me, I use a dehydrated weight of 5.5-6.0 oz. Then add 13-16 oz. water, depending on how much pasta is in the meal. The will yield a 2 cup serving, which is a lot, and fills me up.

A quart sized freezer bag is just right for this

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

Tipi Walter
10-09-2017, 10:25
I'm right in the process of dehydrating meals for my next trip---about 20 dinner meals for a 20 day trip. If I have any leftover I use them on my next-next trip, so nothing sits around for long.

I have found myself packing up too many cookable meals for a trip as I end a trip with 4 or 5 extra dehydrated meals. Bad habit. Old habit from winter trips when I get snowed in. And on the last day of a trip I don't cook a dinner meal. So let's say for a 5 day trip you pack 4 cookable meals (unless you make breakfasts---which I don't).

Home dehydrating has saved me from humping alot more weight than usual---as in the old days I'd take 10 or 12 tasty bite pouches at 10oz each, ouch. Right now I'm drying a big pot of cooked brown rice which I put in the blender and added water to make it pour-able (and blend-able) and once dried can be added to soups and bean meals for better protein combos.

I also use alot of Amy's organic meals both canned and frozen which I home dry and each one constitutes a meal---augmented with brown rice and/or dried beans etc. This pic is an example---

https://photos.smugmug.com/Backpack-2017-Trips-79/20-Day-Quest-For-The-Connie-Pt-2/i-n96GK3B/0/cb050a3b/XL/TRIP%20185%20%28467%29-XL.jpg

RangerZ
10-09-2017, 10:58
I’ve worked this out with trial and error. For me, I use a dehydrated weight of 5.5-6.0 oz. Then add 13-16 oz. water, depending on how much pasta is in the meal. The will yield a 2 cup serving, which is a lot, and fills me up.

A quart sized freezer bag is just right for this

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro


My dehydrated dinner meals seem to average 4-5 ounces. Like Deacon this rehydrates well in a quart freezer bag.

My dehydrator has 5 round trays. If I dehydrate a home made meal I get 5 meals to package, the rest goes for leftovers.

If I repackage a boxed meal I package one or two less servings than the box calls for.

I like to take instant pudding for dessert, with NIDO for the milk content. For pudding I package 3 servings out of the 6 called for on the box. I have ended up with pudding drink occasionally. Sometimes I eat dessert first while waiting for food to rehydrate.

grubbster
10-09-2017, 11:39
I like to take instant pudding for dessert, with NIDO for the milk content. For pudding I package 3 servings out of the 6 called for on the box. I have ended up with pudding drink occasionally. Sometimes I eat dessert first while waiting for food to rehydrate.
"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding
How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?"

Leo L.
10-09-2017, 12:23
I'm everything but a great cook, but being a temporary single houshold, I thought this would be a perfect time to test one of the home-dried deliciousies my wife had made. It was Spaghetti with Bluecheese and Garlic Sauce (including Olive oil)
This was one of the meals I was a bit concerned of the expiry date, and were the reason I've started this thread ~3 weeks ago.
So I just opened the Ziplock bag, poured approx. 300ml boiling water in, and let it soak for 15 minutes.
The Spaghetti rehydrated to a really perfect "bite", and the sauce was tasty, but there was way too much water so the whole look&feel, the consistency, was completely off.
Which now leads me to the above question.

OK, so I not only have to sign the packs with what is in them, but also note the amount of water needed, as far as I've found out by experience.

@Walter:
Same here, from almost every trip I bring back one or two unused dinner packs. Always calculating a bit too much, food-wise.
I like your idea of the Brown Rice blending.

RangerZ
10-09-2017, 12:32
I'm everything but a great cook, but being a temporary single houshold, I thought this would be a perfect time to test one of the home-dried deliciousies my wife had made. It was Spaghetti with Bluecheese and Garlic Sauce (including Olive oil)
This was one of the meals I was a bit concerned of the expiry date, and were the reason I've started this thread ~3 weeks ago.
So I just opened the Ziplock bag, poured approx. 300ml boiling water in, and let it soak for 15 minutes.
The Spaghetti rehydrated to a really perfect "bite", and the sauce was tasty, but there was way too much water so the whole look&feel, the consistency, was completely off.
Which now leads me to the above question.

OK, so I not only have to sign the packs with what is in them, but also note the amount of water needed, as far as I've found out by experience.

@Walter:
Same here, from almost every trip I bring back one or two unused dinner packs. Always calculating a bit too much, food-wise.
I like your idea of the Brown Rice blending.


Like I said, sometimes you end up with spaghetti soup.

Leo L.
01-21-2018, 13:40
There will be an opportunity to get a reasonable priced vacuum sealer in a local shop tomorrow.
Is there any feature or technical data I should be aware of?

RangerZ
01-21-2018, 17:42
There will be an opportunity to get a reasonable priced vacuum sealer in a local shop tomorrow.
Is there any feature or technical data I should be aware of?


Getting it for a Christmas present was a nice feature.

The availability and and price of bags or rolls may be a consideration.

peakbagger
01-21-2018, 18:45
Play around with different types of bags you can seal with vacuum sealer. I can seal ziplocks with mine. I also have stash of old MRE bags which are super heavy duty plastic. I can reseal them with my sealer. Amazon has bags for a lot less than at Walmart. Amazon also sells O2 absorber packs. Just remember that when you get them you need to reseal them before you store them or they will go bad.

Leo L.
01-22-2018, 06:10
Thanks!
According to your advice, we got a set of bags that fit to the machine, too.
At the first glimpse the device is on the brink of crap, but will give it a try anyway.

Ethesis
01-22-2018, 15:49
I have found that it's better to use canned chicken or pressure cook your own. Regular chicken dries really, really hard and takes forever to re-hydrate. For both tuna and chicken, I use a food processor or blender to pulverize the meats. Taste remains the same, but re-hydration is much faster, softer.

ive bought freeze dried chicken to go with dehydrated meals.

Leo L.
02-08-2018, 04:49
Well, tried the vacuum sealer and it works very fine.
The resulting food bags are much less clumsy than any other food container I've seen so far, and due to the vacuum there is no food odor on the outside (at least nothing my nose coud detect)
Highly recommended.

Two more miles
02-08-2018, 13:42
I had the same question. I'm planning in doing the same but more so meats. My plan is to do some meals with leftovers the rest dried meats and veg. Planning on more meat only so I can add to Knor sides to save on drop boxes. Thinking dubble up on meat and veg's in drop boxes for less to buy when town and to add to the verity. Going SOBO in 2019, so I still Have a while to play around trying new ideas. Did one last night 4 cheese resoto with pulled pork loin and baby portobella wasn't to bad. Good as any store bought meal cost about $2.50. As for knowing how much water you just have to play with it to your taste. Some things are better pre-soaked, like add water at lunch to soak for dinner.

Leo L.
02-09-2018, 06:40
We have some mixed experiences with rehydrating meat. If cut in not tiny enough chunks, and depending on the specific kind of meat, it didn't rehydrate too well, and left us with a soup (a tastey one) with crunchy meatpieces swimming in.
After all we tend to go vegetarian mostly, not by religion, but for the simplicity of it.

Hikes in Rain
02-09-2018, 21:33
If you're using ground meat, Chef Glen (http://www.backpackingchef.com/) recommends adding bread crumbs, half a cup per pound, prior to cooking. It's suppose to help a lot in rehydrating. Mind, I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds good, and he can cook better than I.

tommaloney
05-07-2018, 16:08
I had the same question. I'm planning in doing the same but more so meats. My plan is to do some meals with leftovers the rest dried meats and veg. Planning on more meat only so I can add to Knor sides to save on drop boxes. Thinking dubble up on meat and veg's in drop boxes for less to buy when town and to add to the verity. Going SOBO in 2019, so I still Have a while to play around trying new ideas. Did one last night 4 cheese resoto with pulled pork loin and baby portobella wasn't to bad. Good as any store bought meal cost about $2.50. As for knowing how much water you just have to play with it to your taste. Some things are better pre-soaked, like add water at lunch to soak for dinner.

New to this; do you recommend pre-soaking whole wheat spaghetti noodles?

Odd Man Out
05-07-2018, 16:38
I was looking at the Mountain House Meals in the store and bust out laughing when I read the expiration date. "Good through October 2046". I was wondering how they figured they were good through September and not October??

Tundracamper
05-07-2018, 17:09
I was looking at the Mountain House Meals in the store and bust out laughing when I read the expiration date. "Good through October 2046". I was wondering how they figured they were good through September and not October??

They figured that when they realized that if they didn't put a month that customers would call and ask.

SC_Forester
05-07-2018, 21:20
We have some mixed experiences with rehydrating meat. If cut in not tiny enough chunks, and depending on the specific kind of meat, it didn't rehydrate too well, and left us with a soup (a tastey one) with crunchy meatpieces swimming in.
After all we tend to go vegetarian mostly, not by religion, but for the simplicity of it.

This is mostly my experience as well with re hydrating meat. My solution is leave out the meat (almost always chicken) and carry the extra weight of 3 oz canned chicken. This will only be for night one or two after my start or resupply, due to the weight. After that is all vegetarian.

randall_mcduberson
05-08-2018, 05:58
If you're using ground meat, Chef Glen (http://www.backpackingchef.com/) recommends adding bread crumbs, half a cup per pound, prior to cooking. It's suppose to help a lot in rehydrating. Mind, I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds good, and he can cook better than I.

I highly recommend this website and his book. he goes into pretty good detail about how to prepare meat and dry it, as well as storage and rehydrating. I learned a lot from him and have since made my own recipes and stuff. In my experience, the vegetables keep for a long while. I also use Mason jars and vac seal them. It seems every week or so, I am going through my fridge and either using for drying whatever vegetables didn't get used.

I food dehydrator, even a cheap one, will work wonders for you, but the oven will work just fine if you are ok with using the electricity and warming up the house.

I haven't had much luck with dehydrated chicken. I recommend purchasing the freeze dried kind like Ethesis suggested.

Noodles, ramen, and rice are easy additions. Dried bell peppers and onions are my favorite and add a ton of flavor. As do dried tomato slices. I look forward to every meal I make.