Dehydrating Food for Your Backpacking Checklist

When drying products like spaghetti sauce, you'll want to accurately maesure the amount of sauce you'll be dehydrating. This way, when you re-hydrate it, you'll know approximately how much water to add. All you have to do is spread the sauce on a leather tray if you're using a dehydrator or on a cookie sheet lined with plactic wrap if you're drying in an oven. Dry it until it's crispy and either leave it in chunks or grind it into a powder. More than once I've broken into my store of dehydrated spaghetti sauce to make dinner at home.?

With vegetables like peas, I often use fresh frozen peas from the supermarket, blanch them and then dehydrate them. Since I'm adding them to a soup or some other dish, they re-hydrate while cooking. If you're unsure as to wheter something will hydrate while cooking, you can soak it in water before hand.

Green peppers can be dried fresh. Pick very fresh product, wash the peppers and dice. Then dehydrate them and they're ready for omelets, stews or other recipes. The same goes for drying carrots, or just about any fruit or vegetable that can be dried. Most of the time pretreatment is minimal and you will find easy to follow instructions on the websites I mentioned.

Once you get started drying your own foods you will be surprised just how many fruits and vegetables; you can preserve this way and not only for the trail.

I first started drying mushrooms after I got a great deal on 5-lbs of the fungus at Eastern Market. Five pounds of mushrooms is a lot of mushrooms and the next day I was quickly rinsing them (do not soak mushrooms they will absorb the water) and then I dried as many as I could. They came out great and lasted a long time stored in a bottle in the freezer. The same goes with celery, which tends tosit in?my refrigerator and go to waste over time. It's perfect for use in soups.

Dehydrating food is a great way to come up with a wide variety of things to eat on the trail, all for a reasonable price. But first check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and the Open Country Customer Service website where you will find information ranging from how to prep the various items for drying to how they should be stored and recipes.

So next time you think of backpacking food, think of what you would take if you could dry it yourself and then get in gear and start drying.

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Detroit Outdoor Recreation Examiner Lawrence DiVizio is photojournalist, writer and editor who has written and lectured extensively on backpacking.

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