Everything You Need to Know About Dehydrating Food for Camping
For campers and outdoor adventurers, dehydrating food has been a common practice for centuries. By reducing food items to a lightweight state, hikers and backpackers can save space, expand their food options, and make their camping trips more enjoyable. As an experienced camper and a father of three, I have plenty of firsthand knowledge about dehydrating food and the advantages that come with it. In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about dehydrating food for camping so you can enjoy a successful journey.
Benefits of Dehydrating Food for Camping
For campers, dehydrating food offers numerous advantages. First and foremost, dehydrated foods are light, allowing you to bring more snacks and meals along without overburdening your gear. Dehydrated foods can also provide valuable nutrition on the go. Dried fruits and vegetables, for example, provide plenty of carbohydrates and vitamins.
Moreover, dehydrated foods tend to last longer. By reducing moisture content, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite snacks and meals for a longer duration without worrying about spoilage. Finally, dehydrated foods are tasty. Many hikers and backpackers enjoy a variety of flavors, from sweet to tart.
The Basics of Dehydrating Food
Dehydrating food is a surprisingly simple process. The goal is to remove moisture from food, making it lightweight and easy to carry. To do this, most campers use a dehydrator. This device, which you can find at most home stores or online, works by circulating warm air over and around food to evaporate water.
The process isn’t complicated, but it is time consuming. Depending on the amount and type of food you’re dehydrating, it could take anywhere from a few to more than 24 hours. Most campers simply leave their dehydrator running overnight, or during the hours they’re away from their campsite. Alternatively, you can dry your food naturally by tying it up and hanging it from a tree branch.
Preparing Food for Dehydration
Before putting food into the dehydrator, campers should first prepare their items. Wash any fresh fruits and vegetables and pat them dry. Trim away any obvious fat or gristle. Cut the food into even-sized slices, about ⅛-inch thick so that the pieces will dry evenly. Large items, such as sliced apples, should be cut in half before being placed in the dehydrator.
For particularly oily items, like nuts and seeds, use a bit of oil to ensure that the food doesn’t stick together. Additionally, you can add flavorings, such as sugar or herbs, to give your food more kick. Finally, if you plan to store the food in jars, make sure the lids are tightly secured before putting them away.
Storing Your Dehydrated Food
Once your food is dried, it’s important to store it in airtight containers in order to preserve maximum shelf life and quality. I like to use air-tight glass jars, but plastic bags with tight-sealing zipper closures work as well. In addition, you may want to invest in vacuum sealers or oxygen absorbers for larger quantities of food.
To prevent spoilage, be sure to store the food in a dry, cool space away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and food-grade desiccants are great for eliminating oxygen and moisture from food, and ensuring your items last longer.
Tricks of the Trade
After many camping trips, I also have a few tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the years. For one, when I’m dehydrating vegetables, I like to give them a quick steam first to enhance their flavor and texture. This will also help prevent color loss that may occur after dehydrating. For meat, grilling or roasting before dehydrating also maximizes flavor.
Finally, don’t forget to experiment and have fun with dehydrated food. From dried fruit leathers and jerky to cookies and crackers, the possibilities are endless. If you don’t know where to start, watch the video above or consider investing in a dehydrating cookbook.
From lightweight backpacking food to tasty snacks for your trip, dehydrating food is an easy and effective option to consider as a camper. By following the process above, you can quickly and easily dry out different items for your camping outings. As an experienced camper and a father of three, I’ve been dehydrating food for years and I can attest to the convenience it provides.