Noshing around a campfire or picnic table is one keen pleasure of camping. All too often, the food is uninteresting or occupies most of your vehicle's storage space. Not necessary. Today's dehydrated food products offer taste, variety, a compact profile and ease of preparation, leaving you free to hike, surf or enjoy clean air until shortly before mealtime. Many come in boilable pouches, sparing some lucky camper KP duty.
Online, chain and local camping supply stores stock all sorts of dehydrated food. You can buy entrees, condiments like salsa, side dishes, snacks, drink powders and desserts. There are selections for vegetarians and meat-eaters, lovers of ethnic foods and just-meat-and-potatoes folk. Organic entrees and side dishes are plentiful, too. Check out Astronaut Foods if you can't leave ice cream behind. Some suppliers even assemble three-meal kits, freeing you from devising a trip menu.
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)
Sumner, Washington 98352-0001
810 Route 17 North
Paramus, New Jersey 07652
2607 South 3200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119
Mary Jane's Farm
1000 Wild Iris Lane
Moscow, Idaho 83843
Click Products, then Food Pantry, then Samplers.
Food you make at home and dry is less expensive, entirely without food additives and exactly to your taste. When produce is plentiful or a favorite food is on sale, stock up and prepare it. The most reliable way to dehydrate food is in an appliance made for that purpose, whether you buy a dehydrator or build it yourself.
In general, cook vegetables and thin-slice them before drying. Fruits are dehydrated raw. Entrees and condiments are first prepared, then dehydrated. To safely dehydrate meat, poultry and fish, follow reliable instructions.
Don't neglect easy dehydrated meals on your supermarket or specialty grocer's shelves. Indian food usually contains a legume protein source as well as carbohydrate and delicious spices. Meat jerky is a necessity for some campers. Dried soups come in many flavors. Rice-based and pasta-based entrees are there for the taking. Hummus and couscous mixes abound. These meals probably cost more than those you dehydrate at home but less than gourmet dehydrated camping fare. To avoid blandness, carry a mixture of your own personal herbs--perhaps chili powder, dried garlic, dried basil and salt--to toss in the packet or pot when you rehydrate a meal.