Dehydrating food yourself

11:14 p.m. on September 17, 2008 (EDT)
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So I've been doing the math on how much of my money I've been giving to Mountain House and Backpacker's pantry and decided that I should get into dehydrating my own food. I usually spend 6 or so days a month backpacking so I would imagine the setup would pay for its self pretty quickly at $7-8 per meal. In addition, I usually spend 10-15 days a month on the road for work so I could probably save myself some major expenses from eating out while on the road. The coffee machine at most hotels would make for a nice source of hot water.

Mainly I'm looking to preserve things like pasta, chili, mac and cheese etc. Basically I'm looking to replicate the freeze dried meals at a lower price. Any suggestions on equipment? I'm looking to spend $100-200 ideally although if I must pay more, I imagine it would still pay for its self pretty quick.

Also, what's the best way to package it when I'm done. I'd like to avoid packing dishes. Ideally, I'd like to store the food in something that I can eat right out of just like the commercial stuff.

4:12 p.m. on September 18, 2008 (EDT)
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WISam,
I've been contemplating the same thing lately. I hear Nesco and Excalibur make pretty good ones (from a few friendly references). I like the tray-approach the Excalibur does.

As far as what to do, just do a few google searches for "dehydrating food backpacking"....and you'll get some hits/tips on what to do.

~Matt

2:27 a.m. on September 20, 2008 (EDT)
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The Lightweight Backpacker (http://www.backpacking.net) has a food forum and there are lots of threads on dehydrators, recipes and how to pack what you make. People are always asking about which dehydrator to buy and how to use them so you won't have any trouble finding lots of good info there.

One of the members there, Sarbar (Sarah), has her own website and cookbook on freezer bag cooking. With her recipes, you mix up whatever you are going to eat, seal it up in a freezer bag using one of those vaccuum machines and then just heat it in boiling water. She sells cookkits, stoves, accessories, her book and has her recipes online for free with pictures and how to info. She has a great selection of all kinds of things to eat from simple salads up to more complicated things that you make at home, then just bring with you.
http://www.trailcooking.com

9:37 p.m. on September 20, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi WISam,
I've been dehydrating food for a short whole now. Nothing real fancy, and I'm certainly no wiz yet, so I can not give you the type of advise you can find elsewhere from more experienced people.
However I do love the vacuum packaging system I now have. The bag rolls seem expensive, but you can package many meals with one roll, and they are tougher than ziplock bags.
Your meals pack better, stay fresh longer, and can handle abuse better than ziplocks I've found. I even repackage this way now.

Tom, thanks for the links.

1:14 p.m. on September 21, 2008 (EDT)
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Look for a book call A Fork in the Trail. Lots of great meals with specific instructions on dehydrating/packaging them for the trail. I'm going to be tackling dehydrated chili next...

I got my copy on Amazon.

6:39 p.m. on September 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Cool, thanks!

December 22, 2014
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