THE FOLLOWING DEHYDRATED ingredients will serve as great basic additions to make-at-home dehydrated backpacking meals. Here’s how you can get started:
Work a half-cup of finely ground breadcrumbs into one pound of lean ground beef before cooking. (The breadcrumbs will help it rehydrate better.) Then brown the meat on a stovetop. After cooked, dry the beef in at 145 degrees for approximately six hours.
Dehydrated canned chicken rehydrates much better than home-cooked chicken, which tends to stays hard. Dry at 145° F for approximately eight hours.
Home-cooked and dried beans (black, red, kidney and others) often remain hard when you try to rehydrate them. Canned beans require no cooking and rehydrate much better. Simply drain and dehydrate at 125° for six to eight hours. The beans will split open when dried. This helps when you rehydrate them in a meal.
Dehydrate fresh vegetables like peppers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms without precooking. Vegetables such as corn, peas, green beans, carrots and broccoli rehydrate better if you steam them for eight minutes before drying.
A fast way to get started dehydrating vegetables is to use frozen vegetables. Thaw and steam before drying. Avoid lima beans because they stay hard in meals. Peas shrink a lot when dried, so dry larger peas, not the petite size.
Dry most vegetables at 135 degrees for approximately eight hours. Onions and tomatoes take longer. Some vegetables, like peppers and tomatoes, are pliable when dry and others like broccoli and green beans are brittle.
Tomato Sauce Leather
Avoid drying sauce with cheese as an ingredient. The cheese can spoil. Spread canned or home-cooked tomato sauce thinly on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets and dry at 135 degrees for approximately eight hours. Peel and flip the leather over about three-quarters of the way through the drying process.
Store-bought instant rice can be used in backpacking meals, but you can make your own rice, which tastes more flavorful. Cook long-grain rice in fat-free vegetable, beef or chicken broth instead of water and then dry at 125 degrees for approximately five hours.
Read more about making your own dehydrated backpacking meals:
Backpacking Chef Glenn McAllister is the author of the book, Recipes for Adventure: The Ultimate Guide to Dehydrating Food for the Trail and the companion workbook, The Backpacking Chef Menu Planning & Food Drying Workbook. Visit his website BackpackingChef.com and sign up for a free monthly newsletter, Trail Bytes.