Fruits and vegetables

8:04 p.m. on August 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm typically a terrible eater.  If it wasn't for my girlfriend who's pretty much a vegetarian, I'd eat burgers everyday.  Of course, this translates on the trail, and when I'm away from home, drive stops include In-n-Out and trail choices include copious amounts of beef jerky and meat-based dinners.

So on my most recent trip, when my buddy bought a bag of EXTREMELY heavy navel oranges and whole carrots.. I laughed.  Seriously?!  I told him that he was solely responsible for hiking those ridiculous suggestions into camp.

However, when we reached the peak at South Sister, we all hiked up an orange while my buddy brought the carrots.  It was absolutely delicious.  The orange hit the spot with the juicy texture and sweet taste.  The carrot was just as satisfying.  I was already feeling a little sick of the meat overload, as I was on a steady diet of Biscuits/Gravy/Bacon/Burgers during the drive up to Eugene, coupled with the 7+ ounces of beef jerky I had consumed.  The fruit and vegetables were a nice change of pace.  While eating our traditional bangers and mash meal... I was actually yearning for more fresh fruits and vegetables.. Imagine that?!?!

So.. I was thinking that for my next trip, I'd hike in some pre-cut kale, pre-cut onions, silken tofu that doesn't need to be refridgerated, and miso soup packs to be a little more health conscious.  Maybe even throw in some ramen in there for the carbs.  I figure if I ate better, I'd probably feel better.  I'll take the weight penalty.  Plus, that meal actually sounds somewhat appetizing.  Furthermore, while I might not hike in a navel orange, I'd definitely take clementines.  I like some of the dried fruit out there.. but nothing beats a fresh juicy orange/apple/asian pear/etc.

I'd like to ask this forum what are your thoughts on fruits and veggies on the trail?  Worth the weight penalty?  Any favorites?  Not a huge fan of dehydrated foods.. but I've tried some of the Alpine Aire vegetarian options like the Leonardo da Fettuccine and the Pasta Roma which are ok.  Not good.. but just ok... Additionally, I'll usually throw in salmon or tuna packs in them just to supplement my meat/protein cravings.  I'd figure with tofu, my protein cravings would be somewhat quelled.  

8:51 p.m. on August 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Red or Golden Delicious apples with old cheddar and whole grain crackers will undo the bonkiest bonk, and seem to give back far more fuel than I burn carrying them. Like magic. I also look for the hardest greenest bananas I can find, so they resist mashing and I have a fresh treat days later. Great potassium boost, and I often don't have much appetite on the trail for heavy food, so the easily digested bananas are worth their weight, to me.

Sometimes I freeze seedless grapes and put them in the hydration bladder! Keeps the water cold (with a slight fruity flavour) AND I have unmashed fresh fruit to nibble! You could probably do this with many fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh longer. (It works best with a wide opening bag like the Platypus Big Zip, obviously.)

I'm often grateful to the person who told me about making the hydration bladder do double-duty as fresh food storage, an idea so smart I never would have had it myself. :)

11:12 p.m. on August 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Frozen grapes in your hydration kit?!  GENIUS! That is EXACTLY the kind of advice I was looking for @Islandess!!!!  I'm thinking cucumbers too??

11:35 p.m. on August 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I used to carry small potatoes in my pack for roasting. A regular sized baking potato can be roasted in a bed of coals wrapped by tin foil, as can corn on the cob. I also like onions (the larger bulb ones,Yellow, White or Purple) 

11:52 p.m. on August 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I've taken the hit on weight for fresh fruit..Can't pass up fresh apples and oranges..Did Banana's also..

1:33 a.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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@garypalmer @denisdaly thanks for the suggestion!  My last trip showed me it's definitely worth the extra weight.  I like doing the potatoes and corn when car camping, but in California, I'll find myself choosing backpacking destinations in areas with strict fire restrictions... but when you're at a car camp site with a fire pit, it's definitely the way to go.  I know it's not veggies.. but with a cast iron pan, I've made a pretty good ground bison meatloaf in a covered cast iron pan over the grill of a campfire.  I had this French buddy from Metz, who has since moved back to France, make ratatouille and lamb shanks once at Hodgdon Meadow Campground in Yosemite.  He told me that he would have the lamb shanks marinating in the cooler during the drive up from Los Angeles.  Initially, I had laughed him off and didn't take it seriously.. but when he showed up.. there they were.. the lambshanks marinating and the ratatouille was later cut up, prepared on the car camp table.  I initially didn't believe him, thinking that we would just eat some tin-foil wrapped sausage and corn.. and he shows up with a gourmet meal.  It was unbelievable!

But.. I stray off topic.. I'm definitely gonna bring a nice honey crisp or fuji apple with me on my next backpacking trip.

9:35 a.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Making amazing dinners while car camping not only provides great joy in camp but if you have neighbors who can see and smell what you are up to their faces can provide entertainment as well.  The day I proposed to my wife in the Tetons we returned to camp where I whipped up a shrimp marinara from scratch and served it over cheese spinach tortellini.  The downwind neighbors were losing it big time as they ate what looked to be leftover Chinese food.

For backpacking I bring lots of veggies, but dehydrated. I will tuck an apple or three in the pack because they travel well and do make a person pretty happy some times.

12:12 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Amen. No substitute for real food.

I really like canoe trips because there is room for heavy food.

In the desert or dry mountains there is less of a penalty for carrying fresh vegetables because the water sources can be far apart. That requires carrying water for dehydrated food which is not logical. I went to Big Bend to backpack in the winter. I brought lettuce, avacadoes, and tomatoes. My friends thought I was crazy until we sat down for the first night's dinner.

12:19 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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I bring peppers and onions. They're light, they keep, and they improve every meal!

Also, unlike oranges, there's no peel to pack out.

12:48 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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I carry sun-dried tomatoes. Adds some nice flavour to a lot of dehydrated meals, and weighs virtually nothing. Dried fruits are good, too - try mangoes or apples. 

Love the idea of frozen grapes in the water, though. Very cool!

3:01 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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I try to eat as fresh as possible, as freeze dried foods never really caught on with me. Most of my travels are in the Fall and Winter months when the temperature is cool to downright cold, allowing me to take some fresh fruit, cheese and vegetables picked from our greenhouse. Fortunately, up here I can take the time to gather a lot of food from the land. Right now the berries are out and I will augment my staple oatmeal with blueberries and cranberries. Also, carrying some fishing line and taking a few casts in almost any stream or lake will land you supper in very short time.

5:43 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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All I can find around here are buffaloberries and chokecherries. High-bush cranberries should be out somewhere, though. Blueberries? Lucky man. 

North has a good point - if you can live off the land, you can supplement your diet with fresh food all the time.

5:43 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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All I can find around here are buffaloberries and chokecherries. High-bush cranberries should be out somewhere, though. Blueberries? Lucky man. 

North has a good point - if you can live off the land, you can supplement your diet with fresh food all the time.

7:27 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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i also spend the fall, winters and springs off in the wilds. I have worked most summers the last 37 years and taken from around early to mid September to late May off. I also carry more fresh stuff when hiking in the colder time or year.

11:45 p.m. on August 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Frozen grapes in the water bladder. 

That's freakin' genius.

Can't wait to try it.

8:55 a.m. on August 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Last weekend, I brought some fresh corn from my garden, crook neck squash and strawberries.  Great.  I was going to bring some green beans, but since I left my home early afternoon, I did not take the time to pick the beans.


8:25 p.m. on August 13, 2013 (EDT)
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like the frozen grapes. good idea. 

8:25 p.m. on August 13, 2013 (EDT)
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@LoneStranger.. proposing at Grand Tetons?  Nice!!  I've been there twice.. but never went camping out there.. and that was only driving through when going to Yellowstone from Salt Lake City.  What a dramatic backdrop!!

Your suggestions have made me rethink how I look at food when backpacking.  I'm thinking for easier trips, I'd try to really go all out and make something GOOD, versus limiting the gourmet cooking to car camping.  Some of my friends and I were planning on doing an overnight at Willett Hot Springs when the weather finally cools off out in Los Padres National Forest.  The hike is only 16 miles round trip and its mostly flat, so carrying extra weight won't be a problem because my usual base weight is already pretty light.  Probably something with kale, chanterelles, pasta, parmesean/asiago, sun dried tomatoes, etc. etc (keeping it vegetarian).  Maybe some honey crisp apples for dessert.  Thanks for the advice everyone!

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