Have you considered dehydrating your own hiking meals?
Dehydrating food is a great way to make lightweight and portable meals for hiking. You can dehydrate a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and even complete dishes like stews, pasta or chili. Just make sure to follow proper food safety guidelines, start with a clean work surface and invest in a good food dehydrator for best results. To help you get started, here’s a simple recipe for a homemade hiking stew.
Homemade hiking stew
Ingredients (for one serving):
- Lean beef or chicken, diced (120 grams)
- Potatoes, carrots, and peas, chopped (1/2 to 1 cup, adjust the ratio to your liking)
- Onion and garlic, minced (1-2 tablespoons, adjust to your taste)
- Beef or vegetable broth (Approximately 1 cup to cover the ingredients)
- Spices and seasonings such as salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary (Adjust to taste)
- Olive oil (1-2 tablespoons)
- Start with a clean work area
- Sauté the diced meat in a little olive oil until browned.
- Add minced onion and garlic, and sauté for a few more minutes.
- Add chopped vegetables and spices.
- Pour in enough broth to cover everything and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
- Allow the stew to cool.
- Spread the stew in thin layers on dehydrator trays.
- Dehydrate until the stew is completely dry and brittle.
- Package the dried stew in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
When you’re ready to eat it on the trail, simply rehydrate the stew with hot water at your campsite. It’s a hearty and nutritious meal that’s lightweight and easy to carry.
When properly dehydrated and stored in a cool, dark, and dry cupboard, homemade dehydrated hiking meals can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. However, the exact shelf life can vary depending on factors like the moisture content of the food, the storage conditions, and the effectiveness of your packaging.
To maximise shelf life, consider these tips:
1. Ensure thorough dehydration: Make sure the food is completely dry before storing it to prevent the growth of mold or bacteria.
2. Use airtight containers: Store your dehydrated meals in airtight containers, vacuum-sealed bags, or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers to minimise exposure to moisture and oxygen.
3. Label and date: Clearly label each container with the contents and the date it was prepared. This helps you keep track of freshness.
4. Keep it cool and dark: Store the containers in a cool, dark, and dry location to prevent heat and light from degrading the food quality.
5. Rotate your stock: Consider using your dehydrated meals regularly and rotating them to ensure you’re always consuming the oldest meals first.
Regularly check your stored dehydrated meals for any signs of spoilage, such as unusual odors, discoloration, or mold growth. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the food. When stored properly, dehydrated meals can be a convenient and long-lasting option for overnight and multi-day hikes.