I've only really gotten into dehydration recently but I am really amazed at the potential of it. For longer trips that require weight conscious ingredients, or if you want to save money - D.I.Y dehydration is an awesome hobby to pick up if you are serious about backpacking or your food for it.
There are alot of free resources out there on the web to sift through for doing your own Drying/Dehydration at home, but I found some that I really liked and thought were useful to people just wanting to start up in it:
Dehydrating Food - Backpacker Chef
Trail Cooking.com - Dehydration 101
Choosing the right Dehydrator
Alton Brown - D.I.Y Food Dryer
D.I.Y Solar Dehydrator
This was a really cold trip and it snowed pretty much the whole time we were out, but we all had a great time checking out the winter scenery. My menu turned out great, and gave me plenty of calories for the cold temperatures (see bottom), and filled me up nicely. Unfortunately we all neglected to bring a nice camera, but we found a disposable camera in Bryson City at a general store to bring along, I think the camera had been sitting in the store for a long time so that's why the photos have the "vintage" appearance...
My Friend Alex Daley Making his way through the snow
Taking a break on the last day out
Trucking through the snow- My Friend Matt Lottes is on the Right and that's me on the left
Mt. Collins Shelter where we stayed at Night One
My Menu On the Trip
Oatmeal w/ brown sugar, cinnamon, almonds, raisins, butter, and maple syrup
Bagels with Peanut Butter and Jelly, or cheese
Cheese Macaroni with Turkey
Parmesan Alfredo Linguine
Loaded Cheese Grits
My Special Blend Trail Mix
There still are things that just won't fare well in your pack no matter what, but I'm going to go through what I have been successful with below:
Apples - Apples are one of my favorite fruits to eat while taking a break on a summer hike, they really quench your thirst and the sugars give you a little energy boost to get started up again.
Oranges- Oranges have tough skin and pack nicely, have one for breakfast sometime and its like having a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice
Lemons- If you enjoy fishing on trips lemons can be a great ingredient to eat with fresh fish you might have landed. Lemons also are good added to water, or teas. Vitamin C in these is great for keeping your body healthy and vital as well.
Broccoli- Broccoli stays very well in a pack actually, and it is packed vitamins and minerals. Raw or cooked this can be a good thing to toss into a menu
Garlic- Garlic stays better than anything in a pack, it can bring awesome flavor into any meal, I really like bringing a few cloves on a trip
Onions- These also stay very well in a pack, onions can be really versatile too
Peppers- Fresh Hot or sweet peppers are a nice ingredient to have at hand and stay well
Tomatoes- Yes Tomatoes bruise easily, but if you wrap one in a paper towel and put it in a cup or bowl they can stay well protected
Mushrooms- These can stay good for a few days in a pack, I just leave them in the store styrofoam box, and poke a few tiny holes in the plastic wrap on the top
Spinach- If you want to bring a leafy green into the woods, I would go for spinach. At home just dry out the spinach really well and you will be surprised on how long it will last without refrigeration.
Start out with the freshest produce you can get, don't use anything bruised or diseased looking.
In the Summer time keep these items out of direct sunlight, preferably in a cool shady spot if possible.
Never store fruits and vegetables in plastic bags. Trapped gases produced by the ripening produce will accelerate spoilage. Store produce in paper bags or something that can vent.
Pack Strategically- don't keep fruits or veggies in a spot where they will get slammed when you put your pack down or move things around in your pack
Pancakes are one of my favorite breakfasts, paired up with some maple syrup, sausage, and coffee they fill you up great and provide key energy for an active day. In my experience I have found that there are some tricks to making good pancakes in the woods or in the mountains.
Oil the pan - this is key even with non stick cookware, I like to have a little Nalgene squirt bottle filled with vegetable or olive oil as a staple in my cooking gear on all my trips.
Add ins - Wild Blueberries are great to find on the trail in late summer, but for the other parts of the year, or in case you don't luck out finding any wild blueberries, you can buy dried blueberries at the store and add those to your pancakes. There are also several other dried fruits you can experiment with; cranberries, raisins, pineapple are all tasty. Nuts add a good texture and crunch, as well as flavor and protein to pancakes - Try some walnuts, almonds, or cashews in a batch.
Batter mixing - I like two methods for this - First off, I really like Bisquick Shake and Pour containers, you just add water, shake it up, then pour into your greased pan. I think these are perfect for shorter trips, or trips where you can spare packing room, because the containers can be slightly bulky in a backpack and are heavier than a zip-lock of pancake mix. Which is the second method I like; using a gallon size zip-lock bag. At home just add the amount of mix you need plus any add ins you want. Then at camp add the required water for your batch directly to the bag, zip it up, then shake and squish till its thoroughly mixed. Finally to pour the mix, cut the corner of the ziplock so it becomes a "pastry bag", then you can squeeze your mix neatly into your pan. Tryout whole wheat mixes if you can find them at your grocery store, i have found that i really like buckwheat pancakes. Also opt for "just add water" mixes to keep things simpler.
Pan - Non stick is the best bet here by far, also try to go for a medium or larger sized pan to make flipping easier, and when you pour out your mix leave a decent gap between the pancake and the rim of the pan to be able to easily slip your spatula in.
Have a decent Spatula - Several companies now offer folding backpacking spatulas that will do a great job on your pancakes so i recommend investing if you don't already have one.
Syrup - I go for the little Nalgene squirt bottles here again, you can just fill one up with some syrup from your house before heading out. Another lighter option is Maple Syrup Granules which when combined with water make syrup. (leave a little hot water from coffee/tea making and you can have hot syrup!)
Photo courtesy of : http://www.flickr.com/photos/85934826@N00/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Spearfishing in Mexico (II) from Guyzo on Vimeo.
First of all I'd like to wish everyone that reads this blog a Happy New Year, and hope you all had a great holiday season. I have been so busy with the holidays, working, and family and friends, that I have neglected writing for a while. I also did my annual winter backpacking trip in Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Pictures and stories to come) during the final part of my break from school. It was probably one of the coldest trips I have ever been on, and I definitely saw quite a bit of snow. In my efforts to defrost today I have been browsing some "warm weather" videos online and came across some cool stuff that I thought I'd share.
Spearfishing has become a major interest of mine in the past year or so, its not exactly backcountry cooking but I feel that it has the same characteristics that I enjoy about backcountry cooking, so I thought it was worth the mention. With Spearfishing you get to be out there on the water, doing something that is really fun, and if your lucky, you get fresh fish to chow down on, in a boat or on beach somewhere picturesque, just like if you were somewhere cool in the woods or mountains cooking something good up. I think what it comes down to is that the root of this blog is not only just the recipes, but that enjoying nature, good food with friends and family, and just relaxing and getting away from the grind from time to time is what this blog is trying to share.