Tips on how to Dehydrate Meals for Backpacking

Tips on how to Dehydrate Meals for Backpacking

I’m an enthusiastic house prepare dinner, however on the subject of backpacking meals, I are inclined to go for packaged, freeze-dried dinners. They’re packable, straightforward, and (often) fall someplace between palatable and downright tasty. Whereas I’m not against cooking within the backcountry, it’s laborious to beat the comfort of boiling water and having a near-instant sizzling meal quickly after rolling into camp. Plus, who actually needs to do dishes as an alternative of leaning again and watching the alpenglow? 

So when somebody gifted me a dehydrator just lately, I couldn’t wait to place it to make use of. Whereas dehydrators are considerably limiting versus far more costly freeze dryers (it’s tough to dehydrate oily, fatty meals like cheese and avocado), they’re reasonably priced, straightforward to make use of, and open up a brand new world of backcountry eating potentialities. So I took to the kitchen.

I may spend hours formulating best recipes for dehydration, taking into consideration optimum elements, diet, and calorie to weight ratios. However the backside line is that I like to prepare dinner, and I had a robust sufficient grasp on the principles of dehydrating, so I made a decision to wing it. Over the course of every week, I’d be cooking up a handful of scrumptious meals anyway. Why not select those that didn’t break any guidelines, and dry the leftovers? Right here’s the way it went.   

Black Bean + Candy Potato Taco Filling

Tips on how to Dehydrate Meals for Backpacking
My dried bean combination. With some sizzling water, I had a fresh-tasting meal inside minutes. (Photograph: Zoe Gates)

This veggie-heavy dish was the star of some weeknight tacos, served up at house with corn tortillas, shredded cheese, and avocado slices. I knew these final two elements wouldn’t make it into the backcountry, however the filling itself had the makings for a very good camp meal: protein-packed beans, poblano peppers, cilantro, and loads of spice to maintain it fascinating.

The Course of: I set my dehydrator to 135°F in a single day (I dehydrated virtually all the following in a single batch), considering 8 hours could be loads of time. Within the morning, the beans appeared dry, however the 1-inch candy potato chunks nonetheless seemed contemporary. In the long run, they took means longer to dry than anticipated—virtually 24 hours! Tip: The candy potatoes by no means hardened till totally cooled, so it was tough to guage their doneness. Subsequent time, I’ll pull among the veggies out and allow them to cool to verify earlier within the course of. 

The Verdict: Yum! As soon as rehydrated, the beans tasted contemporary, and the spices and cilantro make it extra flavorful than most store-bought backpacking meals. Each ingredient rehydrated effectively. Whereas I missed the cheese and avocado, I’d pack a couple of tortillas and rely this as a satisfying, flavorful camp meal. 


I had one leftover apricot that was ripening quick, so I figured why not throw it within the dehydrator? I sliced it in half, eliminated the pit, and tossed it on the tray.

The Course of: I assumed this is able to dry quick, however just like the candy potatoes, it was very tough to inform when it was achieved. Retailer-bought apricots retain some squish, however I used to be involved that moisture would trigger the fruit to spoil in storage. I ended up drying this till it was leathery however not laborious.

The Verdict: Fail. In my try and fend off spoilage, I over-dried this one. I left it in for the higher a part of a day, and as soon as cooled, it turned powerful and unsightly for snacking—nothing just like the dried apricots you purchase in shops. Whereas the style was good, I want I’d simply eaten this one contemporary. 

Mushroom, Asparagus, and Pea Risotto

I forgot to take a photograph till the final chunk—it was that good. (Photograph: Zoe Gates)

Risotto is my specialty, and I used to be optimistic it could make a profitable dehydrated meal. Rice and different grains are staples for drying, however I wasn’t certain if the risotto would retain its signature creaminess. 

The Course of: The risotto dried quicker than different dishes right here. As soon as dehydrated, it made a really skinny bark that doesn’t take up quite a lot of area in a backpack. It seemed like a small serving whereas dry however stuffed me up as soon as rehydrated. 

The Verdict: I had excessive hopes for this one, and wasn’t disenchanted. The arborio rice rehydrated virtually to its authentic creamy, starchy consistency. I acquired a bit of overeager as soon as I tasted the right rice and realized the veggies (particularly the mushrooms) hadn’t rehydrated totally after ten minutes. A little bit extra time and water would most likely clear up this, however after a protracted day of mountaineering, I don’t suppose I’d thoughts. I’ll positively make this one once more, however possibly with some shrimp or hen subsequent time. A heat bowl of veggie risotto fills me up at house, but it surely doesn’t pack the protein or calorie punch I would like on the path. 

Sliced Mushrooms

I solely used half a carton of sliced mushrooms in my risotto, and the extras would usually get slimy in my fridge whereas I debated methods to use them. However dehydrating isn’t only for full meals. This time, it was a no brainer.

The Course of: They have been dry in a matter of hours, and it was straightforward to inform once they have been achieved.

The Verdict: Whereas they took some time to rehydrate (upward of 20 minutes), I’m so proud of this new answer for leftover produce. I added among the mushrooms to pasta sauce a couple of days later, and I’m saving the remaining so as to add to backcountry ramen. 


Identical to the apricot, I had a lonely banana over-ripening on my counter, so I sliced it up and tossed it in with the others. I soaked it in an answer of water and lemon juice to stave off browning, then organized the slices in a dehydrator.

The Course of: These took a surprisingly very long time to dry and caught to the tray. Subsequent time, I’ll use parchment paper or nonstick liners so I don’t must pry each bit off with my fingers.

The Verdict: These have been tasty, however under no circumstances what I anticipated. Moderately than crisping up just like the banana chips you should buy in shops, they remained gentle and sticky. They’ve saved for about 3 weeks in a zip-top bag within the pantry, however I ponder if the moisture will make them spoil. 

Candy Potato Pink Lentil Curry 

Dried curry, which seemed identical to the unique recipe as soon as rehydrated. (Photograph: Zoe Gates)

I needed a second shot at candy potato after the primary go-round, so I used to be excited when this recipe made an enormous batch of leftovers. With lentils, spinach, coconut milk, and rice, it had all of the makings for a nutritious backpacking meal.

The Course of: I minimize the candy potato chunks smaller this time, hoping they’d dehydrate extra shortly. They nonetheless took longer than anticipated, however hardened up once I took some out to chill after about 8 hours.  

The Verdict: This was one other slam dunk. Curries are good backpacking meals, and I’m including this dish to my subsequent in a single day menu. 

General, every part turned out means higher than I anticipated. Subsequent time I’ll degree up and take a look at dehydrating some meat, however these meals have been all satisfying sufficient with out it.

Genie Mathena

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