We recently upgraded to a Brod & Taylor SAHARA Folding Food Dehydrator and it has been a game changer. We have been having some much fun dehydrating all the foods. What makes dehydrated foods even better is planning some nutritious meals for our next camping trip! In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explore the benefits and helpful tips for incorporating dehydrated delights into your camping nutrition plan.
The Benefits of Dehydrated Foods for Camping
Whether you are looking for a nourishing snack or needing a quick meal option, dehydrated foods can be unbelieveablly easy and nutritious for camping. They are light-weight and can pack in a lot of nutrition. Think jerky… Jerky of any kind, from beef or mushroom and add in some needed nutrients for backpackers and campers on the move.
Dehydration is a process that removes water from food, thereby inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold that require moisture to thrive. This preservation method enhances the shelf life of foods significantly, making them ideal for longer camping trips for several reasons:
Reduced Moisture Content:
By removing moisture, dehydration reduces the water activity (aw) in foods, making it difficult for microorganisms to grow and spoil the food. This helps to prevent bacterial contamination and extends the shelf life of the food.
Lightweight and Compact:
Dehydrated foods are lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport and store during camping trips. Since water constitutes a significant portion of the weight and volume of fresh foods, removing it through dehydration reduces the overall weight and bulk of the food, which is crucial for backpackers or campers with limited storage space.
Preservation of Nutrients:
Proper dehydration techniques can help to preserve the nutritional content of foods. While some nutrients may be lost during the dehydration process, particularly heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamin C, many nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals remain relatively intact. This ensures that campers can still consume nutritious meals even in remote locations.
Longer Shelf Life:
Dehydrated foods have a much longer shelf life compared to fresh foods. When properly stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place, dehydrated foods can last for months or even years without spoiling. This is particularly advantageous for camping trips where access to fresh food is limited or impractical.
Dehydrated foods are versatile and used in a variety of dishes. Campers can easily rehydrate dehydrated fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains by adding water or cooking them in liquid. This allows for greater flexibility in meal planning and enables campers to enjoy a diverse range of foods even in remote wilderness settings.
Dehydrated foods are convenient to prepare and consume, requiring minimal cooking equipment and preparation time. This is especially beneficial for camping trips where resources such as cooking fuel or time are limited. Campers can simply rehydrate or cook dehydrated meals using portable stoves or campfires, allowing them to focus more on enjoying their outdoor experience.
How to Maintain the Greatest Amount of Nutrients While Dehydrating
The concept is to retain nutrients, enzymes, and flavor by dehydrating items between 105 and 115 degrees F. However, many experts suggest initiating the process at a higher temperature, specifically between 130 to 140 degrees F, for the initial hour. This practice offers several advantages. Firstly, it accelerates the dehydration process by swiftly extracting moisture. Additionally, it diminishes the likelihood of fermentation during prolonged dehydration.
Once the water content is eliminated, the food becomes resistant to various types of bacteria that might otherwise proliferate. It’s important to ensure that the temperature is lowered to 115 degrees F (or less) after the first hour. Consider using a kitchen timer if needed.
Top Dehydrated Camping Essentials
Fruits and Snacks
- Banana Chips: Dehydrated banana chips are lightweight, crunchy, and packed with carbohydrates, natural sugars, and potassium, providing a quick energy boost for campers.
- Apple Chips: Dehydrated apple chips are crispy, sweet, and rich in fiber and natural sugars. They offer a satisfying snack that can help replenish energy levels during outdoor activities.
- Dried Mango: Dried mango slices are chewy, tangy, and full of vitamins A and C. They provide a tasty and energizing snack option for campers looking for a boost of natural sweetness.
- Dried Apricots: Dehydrated apricots are soft, sweet, and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They offer a convenient and nutritious snack that can help sustain energy levels during long hikes or outdoor adventures.
- Trail Mix: A combination of dehydrated fruits (such as raisins, cranberries, or apricots) with nuts, seeds, and sometimes chocolate or yogurt-covered pieces, trail mix is a versatile and energy-dense snack that provides a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to fuel outdoor activities.
- Dehydrated Pineapple: Dehydrated pineapple chunks are sweet, chewy, and rich in vitamin C and manganese. They offer a tropical-flavored energy boost for campers seeking a refreshing snack.
- Dried Cranberries: Dried cranberries are tart, chewy, and packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. Adding a burst of flavor and energy to trail mix, cranberries can be enjoyed on their own as a quick snack during outdoor adventures.
- Dehydrated Bell Peppers: Bell peppers add color and flavor to various camping dishes such as soups, stews, and pasta.
- Dehydrated Carrots: Add to soups, stews, and rice dishes to provide sweetness and nutrition.
- Dehydrated Tomatoes: Use in pasta sauces, soups, and chili to add a burst of flavor.
- Dehydrated Onions: Onions add depth of flavor to many camping recipes, including soups, stews, and casseroles.
- Dehydrated Mushrooms: Mushrooms add an earthy flavor to dishes. Use in soups, sauces, and risottos.
- Dehydrated Zucchini: Add to soups, stews, and pasta dishes for a fresh and light flavor.
- Dehydrated Spinach: Use in soups, omelets, and pasta dishes to add nutrition and color.
- Dehydrated Broccoli: Broccoli adds nutrition and color to camping meals. Add to stir-fries, soups, and casseroles.
- Dehydrated Cauliflower: Add to soups, curries, and rice dishes for a nutritious boost.
- Dehydrated Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: Use in camping recipes such as soups, stews, and hash browns.
- Beef Jerky: Beef jerky is one of the most popular dehydrated meat options for camping. It’s high in protein, portable, and doesn’t require refrigeration. Beef jerky comes in various flavors and can provide essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins.
- Turkey Jerky: Similar to beef jerky, turkey jerky offers a leaner alternative with a slightly different flavor profile. It’s also high in protein and can be a great addition to a camping diet.
- Chicken Jerky: Dehydrated chicken jerky is another option for campers looking for a lean protein source. Chicken jerky is low in fat compared to beef or turkey jerky and provides essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth.
- Salmon Jerky: Salmon jerky is a flavorful and nutritious option for campers seeking omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients found in fish. It offers a unique taste and provides high-quality protein for sustained energy during outdoor activities.
- Dehydrated Sausage: Add as a meal or eat as a snack. They’re flavorful, shelf-stable, and provide a good source of protein and fats.
- Tofu Jerky: Tofu jerky is a plant-based alternative to traditional meat jerky. It’s made from dehydrated tofu marinated in savory flavors, providing a chewy texture and protein-rich snack option for vegetarians and vegans.
- Seitan Jerky: Seitan, also known as wheat gluten, can be dehydrated and flavored to create a meat-like jerky alternative. It’s high in protein and has a chewy texture, making it a satisfying snack for campers seeking plant-based protein sources.
- Chickpea Snacks: Dehydrated roasted chickpeas are crunchy, flavorful, and packed with protein and fiber. Season with various spices and herbs to create a tasty and nutritious snack option for camping.
- Lentil Chips: Made from dehydrated lentil flour, herbs, and spices. They’re crispy, high in protein and fiber, and offer a satisfying crunch for campers looking for plant-based protein options.
- Edamame Snacks: Dehydrated edamame beans are crunchy and nutritious snacks that provide a good source of plant-based protein and essential amino acids. They’re portable, lightweight, and perfect for munching on during hiking or other outdoor activities.
Dehydrated Foods Storage and Preparation Tips
Proper storage of dehydrated foods is essential to maintain their freshness, flavor, and nutritional value over time. Here’s some tips on how to store dehydrated foods properly:
Optimal Storage Techniques:
- Cool, Dry Location: Store dehydrated foods in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat. Excessive heat and humidity can cause the foods to spoil or degrade more quickly.
- Airtight Containers: Use airtight containers, such as glass jars with tight-fitting lids or vacuum-sealed bags, to store dehydrated foods. Airtight containers prevent moisture and air from entering, helping to preserve the quality of the foods for longer periods.
- Oxygen Absorbers: Consider adding oxygen absorbers to the containers before sealing them. Oxygen absorbers help to remove oxygen from the storage environment, which can slow down oxidation and preserve the freshness of the foods.
- Labeling and Date: Label each container with the contents and the date of dehydration. This helps you keep track of what’s inside and ensures that you use the oldest foods first to maintain freshness.
- Avoid Plastic Bags: While convenient, plastic bags are not the best option for long-term storage of dehydrated foods as they may not provide adequate protection against moisture and oxygen. If using plastic bags, double-bag them for added protection.
- Store in Small Portions: Consider dividing larger batches of dehydrated foods into smaller portions before storing them. This allows you to open and use only what you need while keeping the rest sealed and protected from exposure to air and moisture.
- Rotate Stock: Rotate your stock of dehydrated foods regularly, using the oldest items first to ensure freshness. This practice helps prevent food waste and ensures that you always have a supply of fresh dehydrated foods on hand.
- Check for Moisture: Periodically check stored dehydrated foods for signs of moisture or spoilage. If you notice any signs of mold, off odors, or changes in texture, discard the affected foods immediately.
By following these storage guidelines, you can prolong the shelf life of your dehydrated foods and ensure that they remain fresh, flavorful, and nutritious for longer periods. Proper storage practices are key to enjoying the benefits of dehydrated foods during camping trips, emergencies, or everyday meals.
Choosing Quality Dehydrated Brands
Your local camping supply store should have a good selection of pre-made dehydrated meals. These selections will most likely include breakfast and lunch/dinner options. They will also include both animal and plant-based protein options. My favorite camping supply store Pack Rat in Fayetteville, AR has a great selection of quality dehydrated food brands. You can also find a great selection on-line at REI.
Gear up for an easy and unforgettable experience with dehydrated foods for camping! From lightweight convenience to customizable flavors, these camping nutrition champions are a must-have for every outdoor enthusiast. Elevate your adventures with the power of dehydrated delights – because great meals make great memories!
Dehydrated Vegetable Soup
- 1 Dehydrator
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 2 Carrots, diced
- 2 Celery stalks, diced
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 cup Fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup Spinach or kale
- 1 can Diced tomatoes
- 6 cups Vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tsp Dried thyme
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse the quinoa under cold water using a fine-mesh sieve. Drain well.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced carrots, celery, onion, and minced garlic. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in frozen peas, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, rinsed quinoa, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and vegetables are tender.
- Add the kale or spinach and let wilt while soup is cooling
- Allow the soup to cool completely before transferring it to dehydrator trays lined with non-stick sheets or parchment paper.
- Spread the soup evenly on the trays, making sure it's not too thick.
- Dehydrate the soup at 135°F (57°C) for 8-10 hours or until completely dry and brittle.
- Once dehydrated, break the soup into small pieces and store in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag.
- Place the desired amount of dehydrated soup in a pot or bowl.
- Add boiling water until the soup is fully submerged.
- Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, or until fully rehydrated.
- Stir well before serving.