Rehydrating food???

4:15 p.m. on February 13, 2008 (EST)
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I recently started dehydrating my own food rather than purchasing dehydrated meals such as Backpacker's Pantry. My question, is there a way to rehydrate the food without dirtying pots such as pouring boiling water into the bag? Can I pour boiling water into ziplock bags? If so, which kinds of Ziplock? If not, are there other bags or packages that I can purchase to rehydrate my meals?

Thanks
Jofes

6:05 p.m. on February 13, 2008 (EST)
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I haven't started dehydrating food yet (my dehydrator is on the way) but I was going to use the heavy duty Ziplock freezer bags. You can even buy a cozy to put your bag in so food stays warm as you eat it.

http://www.freezerbagcooking.com/

6:14 p.m. on February 13, 2008 (EST)
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There is a huge difference between Backpackers Pantry (and similar freeze-dry foods) and home dehydrated foods. Freeze-drying was developed some 50-60 years ago as a way to improve preservation and make the rehydration easier and faster. The food is frozen to liquid nitrogen temperatures and the water sublimed off in vacuum chambers. The rehydration can be done fairly quickly, especially with boiling water, since the freeze-dried food has retained its shape and is porous, like a sponge (vs home-dried or the old style of drying, where the dried food is like leather or a condensed brick). During one of my summer jobs in college, I worked for the old Food Machinery and Chemical Company, who were experimenting with freeze drying. As one of the young backpackers and climbers, they would give us the latest batch of attempts and the instructions "if you figure out how to rehydrate it successfully, let us know." We had numerous hilarious results, plus some disastrous, and a few successful.

To answer more directly, yes, you can use certain ziplock bags. Look for the "freezer" bags, since these seem to hold up better to the boiling water. You do have to spend more to get the higher quality ones (I have had store-branded ones come apart at the seams). Broiler bags (made for broiling turkeys, chickens, and other meats) seem to work ok, but are also expensive. The other problem (the biggest one) with the plastic bags is that you have to dispose of them after one (or perhaps 2-3) use. This kind of waste is not in line with LNT principles, even if it ends up in landfill (the bags are not recyclable or compostable).

It's just better in many ways, especially the long run, to dirty the pot and clean it, disposing of the waste and wash water in the standard way (read the LNT material on this if you don't know the recommended way of disposal of grey water).

8:18 p.m. on February 13, 2008 (EST)
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Yes, I totally agree with you and adamantly practice LNT. Thanks for the info. I looked into those turkey bags and figured they would hold up considering they go in the oven. I have rehydrated my food in freezer bags but I wasn't sure if boiling water caused the bag to minutely melt releasing any kinds of toxins into my food. Again, thanks for the information.

Jofes

PS DM1333, I love that website.

9:31 a.m. on February 14, 2008 (EST)
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Not sure if this will be helpful or not - but what the heck. I've taken dehydrated fruit and veggies (like dry peas, beans) with me backpacking for years. I tend to place them, with some water, in my cookpot with a lid on it near the top of my pack (for beans, I do this in the morning when I'm departing camp, for fruits (typically breakfast fare for me) I put them in the pot at night and carefully place it in my food bag). By dinner time the peas or beans are fully re-hydrated (but cold) - I then fire up the stove, add a bit more water and other "stuff" destined for the stew and heat it up. Saves waiting for the food to re-hydrate, saves fuel and saves disposable packages.
You do have to be careful (lest you end up with backpack full of wet beans) but it works pretty well. I suppose you could use a bag to "cold rehydrate" the same way -

After I eat I'll boil water for tea or coffee in the same pot (which cleans it pretty well) - same for breakfast (I'll mix in some dry oatmeal with the fruit the night before, heat it, then make tea in the pot, then put the dried veggie and some water into it and head down the trail).

thinking about this - I could really use a week or two in the woods right about now ....

10:58 a.m. on February 14, 2008 (EST)
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I make and eat raman noodle soup in the zip lock freezer bags all the time (using boiling sulphur water). works just fine.

12:59 p.m. on February 14, 2008 (EST)
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Jofes said

Quote:

I have rehydrated my food in freezer bags but I wasn't sure if boiling water caused the bag to minutely melt releasing any kinds of toxins into my food.

Hmmm, you may be right. Take a look at the discussion about water bottles in the Trailspace Blog and the news article at http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/building-a-better-water-bottle.html
I think the plastic used in freezer bags is supposed to not have BPA in it and to be safer in other regards.

Fred's method is one many of us have used for dried beans, peas, lentils, etc. for years. I used to carry a screw-top bottle for this purpose, until I got lazy and went to freeze-dry (or in December on Kilimanjaro, where I let the required porters carry fresh food and cook for me).

5:17 p.m. on February 14, 2008 (EST)
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BPA could be a problem. You can always carry the meals in ziploc bags and then rehydrate them in your pot. You can recycle the bags nearly indefinately and you'll never run out of garbage bags in case you need to pack trail trash out.

I like Freds idea but would need something waterproof. I'm the kind of guy who would end up with everything in my pack covered with partially rehydrated food. Maybe a really good piece of Gladware or something, carried in the pot so that if there is an accident it might be contained. It just snowed so I'm going skiing but this thread has got me thinking!

7:22 p.m. on February 14, 2008 (EST)
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Thought this might be of interest...

From About.com:Camping

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2006

"I thought it was important to respond to a questionably safe Food Fad, the ZIPLOC OMELET. It is the latest NOT recommended fad. Please... DON'T try this at home and we will tell you exactly why. What is circulating around again is instructions on cooking omelets in Ziploc bags. This is not recommended until further research is done on cooking with plastics. There is still question about the cancer causing breakdown of plastics and their contact with food during cooking.

"We have contacted the Ziploc company and they replied by telling us that ZIPLOC® brand Bags cannot be used to boil food. They also told us that they do not manufacture a "boilable" bag.... yet.

"They do not recommend using any ZIPLOC® brand Bag in boiling water, or to "boil" in the microwave. ZIPLOC® brand Bags are made from polyethylene plastic with a softening point of approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit. By pouring near boiling water (water begins to boil at 212 degrees) into the bag, or putting the bag into the water, the plastic could begin to melt. Might I add that eggs and cheese have fat which gets much hotter than water thus the likelihood of melting the plastic increases.

"It is so easy to start something unhealthy like the idea of a ZIPLOC OMELET. All you have to do is type it up and send it out to everyone you know via e-mail. It spreads like wild fire. The ZIPLOC OMELET instructions start out by telling you "This works great !!!" But who ever started the idea had not contacted the company who manufactures the bag to see if such cooking techniques were recommended. Therefore people receiving the instructions might just assume this idea is safe and it is not.

"The specific concern centers on the possible contamination of foods with known carcinogens that may be present in plastic containers and wraps.

"This issue is certain to generate much research to clarify the potential risks. Until this issue is fully resolved, consumers who want to take a cautious approach should not use Ziploc type bags for boiling food in water or in the microwave. People should continue making omelets the old traditional way until plastic bag manufacturers come out with an approved safe bag that while heated containing food will produce no carcinogens."

According to SC Johnson's Frequently Asked Questions page:

Can I boil in Ziploc® Brand bags?
No. Ziploc® Brand bags are not designed to withstand the extreme heat of boiling.I also received a letter from Megan O. Maginnis, Consumer Specialist for S.C. Johnson & Son, makers of Ziploc baggies.Megan was replying to my inquiry about boiling with baggies.

"Thank you for asking about using Ziploc bags to make omelets. While we appreciate hearing about new and innovative ways to use our products, we must be cautious that these new ideas follow label directions.

"Ziploc bags are not designed or approved to withstand the extreme heat of boiling and therefore, using Ziploc bags to make any recipe that requires the bag to be boiled is not recommended.

"Like all of SC Johnson's products, Ziploc bags cam be used with confidence when label directions are followed. All Ziploc containers and microwaveable Ziploc bags meet safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens,as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.

"Please share these facts with others who may have this misleading information. We also encourage people to go to www.ziploc.com for more information on the proper use of this product."Ziploc is a registered trademark of the SC Johnson Co. If you have concerns about cooking with Ziploc bags, you can call the SC Johnson Product Safety Department at 1-866-231-5406. They will address any questions you may have.

8:07 p.m. on February 14, 2008 (EST)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
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I’d be concerned about heating a plastic bag for cooking foods, especially one not designed for that use. Personally I’d avoid it, although a bag specifically made to be cooked in sounds preferable to a standard ziplock.

As said above, ziplocks are made from polyethylene plastic (#4), which is considered among the safer plastics (versus others like PVC (#3); polystyrene (#6), which contains a carcinogen; and polycarbonate (#7), which contains the leaching-BPA).

But that’s considered safe by comparison for normal usage, not what might happen when the plastic is exposed to heat and can break down, potentially leaking something into the food you’re ingesting.

If you haven’t, take a look at the following study’s press release:
Study Shows Heat Accelerates BPA Release
http://www.trailspace.com/news/2008/01/31/study-shows-heat-accelerates-bpa-release.html

It deals with polycarbonate water bottles, but the heat aspect makes one wonder about the implications of heating other plastics for food or liquid and what might leach out of them.

Unfortunately, at the moment it seems like there’s not enough info to make a conclusion either way about safety. Without a clear answer, and in light of the info increasingly coming out on other plastics, I’m inclined to be more cautious and would avoid cooking in a ziplock or similar plastic bag.

1:32 p.m. on February 21, 2008 (EST)
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3 forum posts

When you buy a dehydrator, always buy a vacuum sealer. Don't buy a fancy one. Doesn't even need to be new, just a basic model that removes air from the packaging and seals it. It will vastly extend the shelf life and quality of the dehydrated food, not to mention it packs smaller, more secure and will stay dry even if dunked. Also, the bags can be boiled and will hold boiling water. So, you simply cut open the bag, pour in boiling water (usually barely cover food), stir well, fold over the top and cover it with a piece of gear (use caution not to spill contents) to retain heat, or use a foil pouch you can make. 5-10 mins later it's ready to eat and "no dirty bowl" to wash. I even include condiments that I may want to add in a zip-loc baggy that goes in with the food before it's vacuum sealed. The baggy comes in handy if you have food left over and want to reseal it to keep for later. Just be careful not to let the food sit too long once it's rehydrated or it'll go bad. Also, be sure to allow enough room when you cut the bag to size because the food will expand when it rehydrates. If I use food that has chunks or has sharp ends from being broken up, I seal one bag in another to insure the food doesn't poke a hole in the bag. Sorry to go on at such extent and I hope this helps!

3:20 p.m. on February 21, 2008 (EST)
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141 forum posts

The turkey broiler bag I used on Thnxgvg was large and if I remember, flimsy and more like a dry cleaning bag than a ziplock in weight. I'm not sure that I recall this correctly.

Still, perhaps with some ingenuity, they might somehow be used for boiling food. Yuk.

6:38 p.m. on March 16, 2008 (EDT)
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2 forum posts

I always enjoy reading the replies written by lawyers in corporations. They work very hard to make sure that you can't sue them for use of their product.

Hope I figured out the quote process OK.

======= well, I didn't figure it out =================

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2006

"I thought it was important to respond to a questionably safe Food Fad, the ZIPLOC OMELET. It is the latest NOT recommended fad. Please... DON'T try this at home and we will tell you exactly why. What is circulating around again is instructions on cooking omelets in Ziploc bags. This is not recommended until further research is done on cooking with plastics. There is still question about the cancer causing breakdown of plastics and their contact with food during cooking.

"We have contacted the Ziploc company and they replied by telling us that ZIPLOC® brand Bags cannot be used to boil food. They also told us that they do not manufacture a "boilable" bag.... yet.

"They do not recommend using any ZIPLOC® brand Bag in boiling water, or to "boil" in the microwave. ZIPLOC® brand Bags are made from polyethylene plastic with a softening point of approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit. By pouring near boiling water (water begins to boil at 212 degrees) into the bag, or putting the bag into the water, the plastic could begin to melt. Might I add that eggs and cheese have fat which gets much hotter than water thus the likelihood of melting the plastic increases.

"It is so easy to start something unhealthy like the idea of a ZIPLOC OMELET. All you have to do is type it up and send it out to everyone you know via e-mail. It spreads like wild fire. The ZIPLOC OMELET instructions start out by telling you "This works great !!!" But who ever started the idea had not contacted the company who manufactures the bag to see if such cooking techniques were recommended. Therefore people receiving the instructions might just assume this idea is safe and it is not.

"The specific concern centers on the possible contamination of foods with known carcinogens that may be present in plastic containers and wraps.

"This issue is certain to generate much research to clarify the potential risks. Until this issue is fully resolved, consumers who want to take a cautious approach should not use Ziploc type bags for boiling food in water or in the microwave. People should continue making omelets the old traditional way until plastic bag manufacturers come out with an approved safe bag that while heated containing food will produce no carcinogens."

According to SC Johnson's Frequently Asked Questions page:

Can I boil in Ziploc® Brand bags?
No. Ziploc® Brand bags are not designed to withstand the extreme heat of boiling.I also received a letter from Megan O. Maginnis, Consumer Specialist for S.C. Johnson & Son, makers of Ziploc baggies.Megan was replying to my inquiry about boiling with baggies.

"Thank you for asking about using Ziploc bags to make omelets. While we appreciate hearing about new and innovative ways to use our products, we must be cautious that these new ideas follow label directions.

"Ziploc bags are not designed or approved to withstand the extreme heat of boiling and therefore, using Ziploc bags to make any recipe that requires the bag to be boiled is not recommended.

"Like all of SC Johnson's products, Ziploc bags cam be used with confidence when label directions are followed. All Ziploc containers and microwaveable Ziploc bags meet safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens,as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.

"Please share these facts with others who may have this misleading information. We also encourage people to go to www.ziploc.com for more information on the proper use of this product."Ziploc is a registered trademark of the SC Johnson Co. If you have concerns about cooking with Ziploc bags, you can call the SC Johnson Product Safety Department at 1-866-231-5406. They will address any questions you may have.

2:42 a.m. on March 17, 2008 (EDT)
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475 forum posts

I toss everything I'm going to have to rehydrate into a wide mouth plastic jar, poor in water, stuff it into the bag someplace before dinner, put the lid on and continue walking. If its beans they start early in the day. If other food, I usually get it started 1 or 2 hours before I expect to finish the process.

I dump out what I can (remember how much liquid you put in there) into my cooking pot. Then clean the remainder out of the jug with the remaining required water. You have to 'cook' the mess over a fire for a bit to bring it up to a good temperature. But it saves fuel, and speeds the process. My cooking 'pot' doubles as my bowl and cup.

Don't think I'd worry about the eggs and fat/oil being hotter in a previous post. It all starts out at the temperature of the water and can't get hotter than the source water unless you are cooking the whole mess in the bag.

2:07 a.m. on April 15, 2008 (EDT)
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I have used both nalgene botts to cold start rehy, and the vacuum seal bags. The vac seal are more designed to take the heat, esp if just pouring the water into them.

I also agree with being careful with "cooking with plastic"--

9:35 p.m. on April 15, 2008 (EDT)
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Maybe it's off topic, but I have just bought a small food dryer and shall try it before the summer trips.

Do anyone have a good DIY site for drying food? I have heard that one should slice the potatoes and then cook them for just a minute or two. True or false?

/Otto

August 30, 2014
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