So we finally bought a new dehydrator. We have had a Nesco/American Harvest dehydrator that my dad’s wife gave us for probably 25 yrs and it finally got stuck on 145F so I couldn’t adjust for different items anymore. We mostly used it for dried apples and jerky over the years. I ended up buying the same thing except they upgraded the design to put the motor and heat on top and a drip tray on bottom. Those two changes were SO nice!! One reason I bought essentially the same thing as opposed to going with an Excaliber with it’s square trays and a front door, was because the new Nesco could use all our old trays and inserts. Now I can REALLY stack stuff up to dry!
For Christmas I got a great book Backpack Gourmet by Linda Frederick Yaffe LINK which sparked my interest in dehydrating whole meals for our adventures. I had made some shepard’s pie for dinner one evening so decided to try dehydrating it. The first picture is the before:
This is it spread on the tray ready for the drying process at 155F if I remember correctly:
Here is it half way through the 6-8hr process. Every so often you have to crumble the bigger chunks up so everything dries good.
Here is the final dried deal. It looks pretty gross actually.
For fear of it being a complete failure out out on the trail, I decided to try it out for lunch one day while my wife had the real deal across the table from me. She chuckled the whole time but I think I got the last laugh.
Mmmmmm… doesn’t that look yummy???
I used my new Stanley cook pot I got for Christmas and the GSI Outdoors stove I reviewed a while back which I love. LINK
This was right after pouring the water in. Isn’t that looking great?
After a few minutes of steeping:
The final product on the left with my wife’s lunch on the right.
A couple few things I learned from this. First, do one serving on each tray and do a bunch of servings at a time to make the whole process efficient. The heater and fan don’t care whether you have one or 10 trays, so fill ‘er up! Second, drain meat more than normal and limit fat in the recipe so it keeps longer dried. Third, when rehydrating, use boiling water and put whatever you are rehydrating it in in a reflectix insulated cozy of some sort to keep it hot. This will get it rehydrated more fully and keep it hot to eat.
I would say this was a great success. It certainly is not as good as fresh, but what dehydrated backpacking food IS???? It is just as good as the commercial stuff we have had and we know exactly what is in it which is comforting. The key here is that when you have been on a long hike or canoe trip all day, even less than perfect dehydrated food is satisfying as you typically are quite hungry. Give it a try I say!
Thanks for reading.