View Full Version : dehydrating your own

10-04-2002, 09:20
I have been dehydrating my own backpacking meals for about
18 years now, and I enthusiastically recommend it !

One of my favs is macaroni and my homemade spaghetti sauce with meat and veggies.
I dehydrate my sauce and I also pre-cook my macaroni and dehydrate that as well !
Rather than the mess of having to cook the pasta, I dump the sauce and macaroni all into a food storage bag and add boiling water,place the bag of food and water into my pot and add the lid, then let sit about 10 mins.
No pot to clean either! (I just pack out the bag- which, in true HUNGRY HIKER fashion ends up with VERY LITTLE residue on it !)
I have an old American Harvestor dehydrator (from back when it was called Harvest Maid)

I dehydrate just about anything I enjoy eating out on the trail.
Sure saves me money to do it myself, and it's easy !

Bon Appetit !
Perkolady :)

10-04-2002, 13:18
I always missed vegies while hiking, so the last couple of years I've been dehydrating my own. Asparagus came out tasting like fresh. Broccoli worked well too, though it didn't taste like fresh. Rehydrated turnips were surprisingly delicious, as was eggplant. Mushrooms are always a little chewy after rehydrating. Most vegies require parboiling or steaming before dehydrating. Corn and peas are very easy to dry if you start with frozen. I also dry tomato paste into leather for spaghetti sauce. Then there's my favorite, yam leather! I eat it even when I'm not hiking.

SGT Rock
10-04-2002, 13:56
I dehydrate fruit and jerky. In all humility I make the best jerky there ever was, but anyway...

I've dehydrated other stuff but not at that scale. I guess I should try it more.

10-04-2002, 14:28
Peppers (hot and mild) work very well for dehydrating. As do celery and carrots. I have had no luck with rehydrating potatoes. My jerky is the best there ever was, though it may be a wee hot for many palates. Homedehydrated meals (bengali red lentils, chili con carne, thai curry, pasta e fagoli, etc) work extremely well and usually caused many looks of jealously to be turned my way. Usually from people who were eating Smack Ramen mixed with mashed potatoes.

10-04-2002, 21:32
Ooooooo yaaaaaa... veggies!!

I'm with you , i miss them when out for a while.

Even Ramen noodles can taste like real food when you add some!

I like sending some in the maildrops- it's like Christmas ! lol

I imagine the yam leather IS great !
Could you tell us how you do yours?

watering mouth,

10-05-2002, 20:00
Originally posted by SGT Rock
In all humility I make the best jerky there ever was, but anyway...

Is the recipe a secret, or will you post it? I bought an American Harvest dehydrator off ebay, but so far I've only done apples.

Also, question about dehydrating tomato sauce - I've heard it gets leathery - do you puree it into powder? Does that work better? Coffee grinder, I guess? or blender?

thin q!

The Weasel
10-05-2002, 20:18
I dehydrated a LOT of spaghetti sauce (oven method) and kept it as a leather in ziploc bags, torn into appropriate sizes for a meal (if one bottle of sauce was 6 servings, I'd tear it into 3 pieces) To cook, I just put the leather in the boiling water with the pasta, and stirred occasionally. Worked perfect.

The Weasel

10-05-2002, 23:41
I have heard of dehydrating it until it turns to leather. But how long will it last that way? Can you use it in food drops without it goin bad? I have heard that if you dehydrate it until you get it to a powder that is last for a long time. Does anyone have any input on this?

10-06-2002, 07:01
I have kept it for at least 6 weeks and was still good, with no problems at all and taste just as good as the first day. Also with any dried foods you can dehydrate them and then freeze and they will keep for at least a year. I have some sauce that I dehydrated in 99 and kept in the freezer and it is still good. However it is not recommended to keep the food that long, I don't think. I have, but that is just me. As for the question, you would not have any problem with it keeping in a mail drop if it is dehydrated properly. Just be sure you do not scorch or burn the sauce when dehydrating as I did some of my first. It was pretty bad stuff.... Ed

The Weasel
10-06-2002, 10:17
Although I don't recommend it to everyone, I have spaghetti sauce leather that I have kept in a ziploc bag (hint: put it in the bag while still slightly warm, use a rolling pin or beer can to roll out all the air as you "zip" it) for over two years and it has been excellent.

10-06-2002, 16:32
Originally posted by Perkolady
Ooooooo yaaaaaa... veggies!!

I'm with you , i miss them when out for a while.

I imagine the yam leather IS great !
Could you tell us how you do yours?

watering mouth,

I just take boiled mashed yams, add some brown sugar (about 1 Tbsp per yam), some crushed pecans (a few Tbsp ground in blender), and some spices (pumpkin-pie type spices, like allspice or cloves). Dry on a lightly oiled fruit-leather tray. The trick is to stop the dehydrator while the leather is still somewhat soft and chewy.

10-06-2002, 18:52
For those vegetarians out there, try marinating and drying tofu. Dried tofu really helps bulk up things like ramen, weighs very, very little, is fairly caloric, and can be eaten as jerky to boot.

10-17-2002, 07:02
Thanksa Lotsa DebW !

The yam leather sounds really YUMMY!
Gonna give it a try !

Perkolady :)

10-17-2002, 07:16
In my experience with the shelf life of the meals i dehydrate for the trail- it seems to depend some on both how it is packaged and stored , as well as the oil content of the food.

I have an OLD Seal-a-meal i sometimes use with fairly thick storage bag material. I do use ziploc FREEZER bags as well.

I live in a VERY small house, and so storage is most often in old tins , stored in a cool dry place.

The more oil content in a dish (ie spaghetti sauce with ground meat)
I prefer to leave it stored in the freezer -

For either type dish, i have stored and eaten up to 2 years after dehydrating , and i still live to tell about it. lol

With most dehydrators, there are usually a good set of instructions and with the American Harvestor, there's also a recipe book.
There are suggestions for storage and shelf life as well.

One word of advice if you purchase a dehydrator-
its a good idea to have one that has a thermostat with varying degrees- some don't have one at all, and that does make dehydrating a bit trickier (although it certainly can be done!)

*This is just a suggestion for people like me who don't have time or the <skills> to fart around with it all. lol

Anyway- for anyone - always make sure you remove as much oil from the dish you're planning on dehydrating as possible , so it stores better and won't go rancid .

Good luck !
Bon appetit !
Perkolady :)

10-21-2002, 09:26
Found a very informative site for drying food.


12-09-2002, 20:30
Just bringing this topic out of the inactive in 30 day

03-09-2003, 17:51
I just bought a dehydrater today and I feel like I am a little over my head.

I would love to dehydrate the following things:

Vegetables. I was wondering if I can use the kind that I usually buy that are frozen in the big bag or do I have to get fresh and blanch and then dry?

Chili... I love chili on the trail... do I just whip up a batch and then put in the dehydrator and away I go?

Meat... I would like to learn to dehydrate ground beef and chicken. Any suggestions?


03-09-2003, 19:17
Vegetables: You can use the frozen vegies from the supermarket. It's easier that way. I've done peas and corn. Make sure the vegies are in fairly small pieces. Most fresh vegies need to be blanched first. Hint for broccoli - the stalks and stems need to be blanched but not the flowerettes. This website http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/scripts/htmlgen.exe?DOCUMENT_HE526 gives directions on preparation, blanching time and dehydrating time for various vegetables.

03-09-2003, 21:58

Yes, I have dried my wife's homemade chili and it was great on the trail. I just dried it from the pot to the dehydrator and it was great that way. I would not keep it too long unless it was in a freezer doing it this way. It is best to get most the fat content out of it and this way, does not really remove any fat at all. I just keep it frozen in the freezer if I do it this way. When I did my thru-hike, I dehydrated the meat, beans, and sauce seperately and never had a problem and it was many weeks without any spoilage. To dry the ground beef, first of all get the leanest possible meat you can find, then put it in a skillet on the stove and brown it. Make sure it is all cooked enough so as not to see any pink or red meat, then put the meat into a strainer and let hot water run over, around and through it to wash off most of the fat or grease. Then just spread it lightly on the dryer trays with the plastic sheets.. With mine it takes about 7 hours to dry completely. When it is dry it will be little hard pieces of meat that feel and look like gravel... thus this is what it is called. "Gravel". It is very good when added to chili and most any other food, also adding some olive oil, or parkaye margerine helps with the taste. As for the sauce, simply make your own, or purchase it and spread on dryer sheets and let dry to a leather as someone else has mentioned. Of course if you want spaghetti noodles, you have to bring them along and I always use the angel hair type since they cook faster.. Also dry beans for chili if you want, by purchasing the can of beans or cook your own, put on the dryer sheets until they are very dry and hard.. In camp, if you want chili or spaghetti, you can use the same sauce as I did. I would add different spices and for each. Also of course add the chili powder if I wanted chili with meat and beans, and drop in the pot with water added... both of these dishes were very good and my favorite. Also you can add the above items to raman noodles and makes them much better.... just thow in whatever you have and makes a great meal... Hope this helps..... Ed

03-09-2003, 22:09
Ed and Deb, You are building up my confidence that getting this dehydrator was not a bad idea. I am wanted to get it before my thru in 2005 so I could play with it and get down some great food ideas. Thanks... I will be reporting back next week on how it all worked out. My son and I are drying our food for our trip in March and we are using some of the ideas in this food planner book we bought from the ATC. Great ideas in that book but I think I can expand on a few thanks to you all.


05-28-2003, 21:27
WHat about the machine that sucks all the air out of the food? How do you supose the food would do? What kinds of stuff would be ok? I am wondering if I can lighten up on cans by opening them an using this to suck the air out of the plastic bag. It is a very thick plastic an it really does a good job of getting all the air out of the bag. :-?

05-29-2003, 00:07
Don't try it. The food will spoil fast. If, for some reason, spoilage wasn't evident, botulini poisoning would still be a possibility.

You would have to dry the food first, and most canned items such as stews contain too much fat, which will become rancid.

Should be lots of posts on cooking, drying, and packaging meals for the trail using the vacuum packager to prolong freshness. There are also threads on pros and cons of mailing supplies or buying as you go.

05-29-2003, 16:27
thankies :)