do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
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AlmostThere
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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by AlmostThere » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:50 am

As I recall, Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills gives advice on the consumption of protein rich food that includes eating it only on rest days, because elevation makes it harder to digest it. Increasing carbs and fats and decreasing protein in the diet is another piece of advice they dole out.

My appetite tends to go away while I'm backpacking or doing anything strenuous, and eating too much before/while carrying a pack can play havoc with my stomach. I tend to up the carbs and have a little protein with dinner. It seems to help settle the stomach.








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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:58 am

fishmonger wrote:During our last long trip I learned never to repack factory vacuum sealed salami (Landjaeger, actually). All the packages we shipped ahead that were still sealed as purchased were fine weeks later, but those that were cut open and repackaged into freezer zip lock bags were all rotten.
That's been my experience with salami as well. It's perfectly fine for months at room temperature provided it's in the original packaging. Some types of bread are like that too (the infamous supermarket bagels for example).

I've never had a dehydrated meal rot or mold. My main worry has always been with any fat within it going rancid. But a little insurance can't hurt.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:30 am

AlmostThere wrote:As I recall, Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills gives advice on the consumption of protein rich food that includes eating it only on rest days, because elevation makes it harder to digest it. Increasing carbs and fats and decreasing protein in the diet is another piece of advice they dole out.

My appetite tends to go away while I'm backpacking or doing anything strenuous, and eating too much before/while carrying a pack can play havoc with my stomach. I tend to up the carbs and have a little protein with dinner. It seems to help settle the stomach.
Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought we were talking about strenuous ("extreme") activity, not high altitude. I agree that it's hard to do strenuous tasks when you have a full stomach of slowly digesting food. That's not just a question of meat/protein though as vegetable fats are also slow to process. But is eating a moderate amount of meat at dinner at Sierra elevations really a problem?

Freedom of the Hills isn't necessarily the best source, but here are some excerpts from my somewhat dated copy (5th edition, 1992):

For lunch and snacks it suggests "Protein: Canned meats and fish, beef jerky, precooked sausage, meat spreads, cheese, nuts and seeds (sunflower and others)."

For dinner they recommend "canned or dried chicken, beef or fish, sausage...", "almond chicken, chili, shrimp newberg, turkey, beef stroganoff...".

Under the "high altitude" section they caution that when ascending too abruptly that "Many climbers fall victim to symptoms of mountain sickness... Under those conditions it is more difficult to digest large meals because the stomach and lungs are competing..."

If you don't want that trout, I'll eat it.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by fishmonger » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:21 am

AlmostThere wrote:
My appetite tends to go away while I'm backpacking or doing anything strenuous, and eating too much before/while carrying a pack can play havoc with my stomach.
In my experience, that only happens to me on the first few hiking days. On my typical multi-week trips the appetite comes back early in the adventure. Maybe 3 days? Definitely after one week, the body is asking for any food you can feed it. Hungry all the time. Double sized dinners welcome... All you can eat breakfast at Parchers was a highlight of our last trip, and we got our money's worth that day. Yeah, we were a little slower heading back up to Bishop Pass, but the calorie boost was welcome after 10 days of freeze dry meals.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by balance » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:55 am

Not to get off topic, but the subject was raised.

Protein is important for recovery. Powder supplements provide a very convenient, durable, weight-efficient source of protein. Just mix in water, and there you go. However, it's a good idea to try some at home and make sure they agree with you.

Many sources are available, even Vegan protein. I ingest more protein in the evening, when there's time for digestion. Also, the muscles are in repair and recovery mode while we sleep.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:24 am

balance wrote:Protein is important for recovery.
That's true, but there's a catch. Most backpackers and climbers aren't eating enough food. This is partly because food is heavy, partly because of exercise or altitude induced appetite suppression and also partly because backpacking food isn't really that appealing.

With a deficit of calories muscle loss is more or less guaranteed. I've read that increasing the percentage of protein can reduce the loss, but it won't eliminate it in the face of a calorie deficit. And the risk with pushing protein sources is that you might make your food less palatable or digestible, which could lead to an even greater calorie reduction.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:39 am

An easy way to supplement calories is olive oil. Most dried and freeze-dried foods are low in fats. Fat packs twice the calories per pound than protein or carbs. I put at least a tablespoon or more olive oil in every cooked meal. And olive oil is a "good fat". If you do not like the taste of olive oil you can use a spread, like Smart Balance. The spreads are more difficult to pack and tend to melt and leak.

Digestibility can be a problem with altitude or intense exercise after eating. I "high carb" in the mornings and snack steadily all day, and save the fats and proteins for dinner. Seems to work for me. I think a lot of digestibility problems are simply due to inadequately rehydrated freeze dried meals. I do not use FD meals at all. If you are getting sufficient calories, only about 18% of your total calories need to be protein. My favorite way to get protein is eating fresh fish!

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:25 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:An easy way to supplement calories is olive oil.
Sure, if you can eat it. For someone who isn't hungry taking a few swigs of oil or slathering it on their already unappetizing meal might not be a very appealing idea.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:55 pm

Some of us actually like olive oil. I put it on my toast instead of butter. It makes pasta dishes more appetizing. But if you do not like it, then obviously do not use it. There are other good oils out there - nut oils for example. Nuts are mostly oil. Add nuts to your meals. Cheese is high in calories, and will not hurt to do in excess for a few days. Same with summer sausage. Another high calorie food is peanut butter or almond butter. I know people who take a whole jar (the ones in plastic bottles) and just spoon directly into their mouths. I do find that the animal fats tend to give me indigestion more often than the plant based fats. That just could be me. High fat, however, can cause problems at high altitude. I am not saying overdo fats, just add some fat to packaged meals, which tend to be almost all carbs.

All my meals are appetizing to me. I find most freeze dried meals unappealing, so I do not use them. Dehydrating your own meals seems the way to go if most other backpack food does not appeal to you and you do not want to cook in the field. I do fine with just plain cooking of regular dry food I find in the supermarket.

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Re: do you dehydrate your own trail meals?

Post by longri » Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:43 pm

Daisy, I don't dislike olive oil. I consume it almost daily. In the wilderness it's in my home dehydrated meals, in my home made pesto and I frequently carry some for making popcorn. My backcountry food is already high in fat, at least twice as fatty as what I eat at home. So adding oil to my food would be too much. Maybe if I were sledge hauling in Antarctica.

For the poor guy eating an MSR dinner each night it might make sense. The combination of freeze-dried food and oil would gag me though. There are tastier ways to add fat. How about chocolate covered macadamia nuts?

I spend a fair amount of time preparing back country meals and I like them. But not as much as fresh food, not even close. Even my best effort pales in comparison to something as simple as a good hamburger and a beer. I believe that is reflected in my calorie consumption. And I think I'm not alone in this regard.

I usually lose a modest amount of weight on wilderness trips even when I have more food than I want to eat. Contrast that to multi-week bicycle tours I've done where I expend more energy each day but have unlimited access to fresh food. I maintain my weight on those trips. I believe the difference is the food.

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