I started my love affair with dehydrating a little late for the 2014 hikers. I don’t know why I resisted, I guess I thought dehydrated food = tasteless food.
Now I am a dehydrating fool, getting food ready for the trip and for the food shipments I’m planning.
Here’s what I’ve done so far.
Chicken, and lots of it. I buy antibiotic-free chicken breasts, marinate them in an oil-free combo of whatever sounds good (Italian herbs, pepper, salt and water or a mixture of French herbs, salt and pepper, maybe some cumin thrown in or pepper flakes) and the next day grind them into little bits with the food processor, put them in a Pyrex dish, cover, and cook in the microwave until no pink remains.
Then I clean the food processor REALLY WELL and grind up the cooked chicken again, and place it in the dehydrator (thanks for loaning me one, Betsy). If I spread it out nice and thin, it dehydrates in the machine in 2 hours. I add it to dry soup mixes, mac & cheese, Ramen, Rice Sides, and so on. Note: plain chicken may deliver the same protein punch, but it has no flavor. What I don’t ship out right away, I put in the freezer. Four pounds of chicken dehydrates to about 11 ounces. Sweet.
Mirepoix. This is the French name for the staple of all soups and stews—onion, carrots and celery. Sometimes garlic is added. I chop organic veggies in a food processor, spread them out on the dehydrator trays, and wait till they dry out. They pack a huge flavor wallop in dry soups and Ramen and are a huge benefit to other packaged dry foods that need some French flair. I chopped up 4 large onions, an entire head of celery and 12 carrots and it dehydrated to 2.5 ounces. I only add a tablespoon to a meal for one.
Jerky. I was really nervous about making jerky; I wasn’t sure it would be 100% safe to eat. I occasionally eat jerky on a climbing trip, but I buy it at a store. Having read a number of internet articles by chefs I trust, I dove right in. I bought a round roast (no marbling or fat) and asked the butcher to slice it thin. I told him, sheepishly, “I’m making jerky.” His face lit up, “I make jerky,” he said. Then he proceeded to hand me a piece of his duck jerky that was great and gave me numerous tips. I marinated the sliced beef for 12 hours in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, some cumin, pepper, salt, a little brown sugar, whatever else I had around and added a dash of Liquid Smoke. I cut the slices in half lengthwise and began the drying process. I dried it until it is shriveled and almost brittle, with not much moisture at all. It’s yummy! Ok, my hiking daughter didn’t love it (she’s not a jerky fan) so I am keeping it for my climbing trips.
I had such success with beef jerky that I dehydrated sliced turkey from the deli department (really good and already cooked) and smoked salmon (It loses a lot in translation from moist and smoky with cream cheese on a bagel, I’ll tell you that).
Tuna: I’m wondering if can be dehydrated to save weight???
I haven’t done apples or any other fruit yet; they’re so easy to buy.
I’d love your ideas on what you’ve successfully dehydrated!
The savings is weight is amazing.
Let me know what I’m missing—the dehydrator is going at our house all weekend but I’d like more ideas!
lead image courtesy: Nichelle Stephens
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I'm the mother of a 25-year-old 2014 NOBO woman, and I'm trying to contribute meaningfully to her hiking experience via yummy food. I have written award-winning cookbooks but ALL of them require the use of a full kitchen. So this is a new experience for me. Invite your moms (and dads) to join me and let's share recipes and experiences!
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