Do it Yourself Camping Food

Do it Yourself Camping FoodCamping food must perform several functions. It must be lightweight, full of nutrition and energy, and it must be nonperishable. These qualifications often lead hikers and campers to purchase mundane boxed dinners and prepackaged foods, or to splurge on specially designed, freeze-dried hiker food that often kills appetites faster than it can replenish tired muscles. Yet more and more hikers are finding alternate avenues to food preparation through the simple process of dehydration. With a home dehydrator unit, you can plan complex, appetite-appealing and nutritious meals that will stand up to the rigors of backcountry travel.


Difficulty: Moderate

Do it Yourself Camping Food
Things You’ll Need:
  • Dehydrator unit
  • Assorted hydrated foods
Step 1
Purchase a quality dehydrating unit and familiarize yourself with its specific manufacturer's instructions. Many units also include recipes and drying tips to get your started. Note that some dehydrator designs are more preferable for drying large amounts of food. For example, square shapes dry food faster and more evenly than round designs.
Step 2
Choose a base for your meals. Pasta is still a good choice and is easy to spice up with dehydrated foods; couscous also works. Many hikers use rice for its high calorie content, but if you choose to cook rice, be sure to get the kind that cooks quickly and to use as little fuel as possible on the trail.
Step 3
Prepare a homemade sauce to accommodate your meal base. Marinara, cheeses, even some meat sauces will work nicely. Do not use sauces with a high oil or fat content, like pesto, since these will not dehydrate well. If you do want an oily sauce for one or two meals, consider purchasing a concentrated form at your local grocery.
Step 4
Follow your dehydrator's manufacturer's instructions to dry your sauce, taking care to dry it evenly and thoroughly. This will involve carefully and evenly spreading the sauce over one or more dehydrating racks.
Step 5
Add fresh vegetables, fish or even fruit to round out your dinner plan. Different types of vegetables should be dried separately, then mixed, to avoid uneven drying times. Puree your fruit, particularly berries, bananas and citrus, then spread the mash over a dehydrating rack to make a delicious fruit leather. Note that many fruits require a bath in ascorbic acid to dry properly (generally available from your dehydrator manufacturer).
Step 6
Rehydrate your food on the trail using hot, purified water. Add the water slowly, and taste often to determine the right hydration level.

Tips & Warnings

Low-fat meats and fish like tuna and grass-fed beef can be dried with excellent results.
Package your food well in lockable or vacuum-sealed bags to avoid mold.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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