View topic - Dehydrated Chilli/Pasta Sauce - Shelf Life in the Field?

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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2013, 11:38 am 
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I'm new to dehydrating - having read up on it for a while, I'm ready to start experimenting...

Assuming I get the hang of drying ingredients, I hope to be able to dry entire meals or meal components. I know chilli and pasta sauce can be dehydrated, but I'm wondering about the presence of certain ingredients.

So I have two related questions.

Is it possible to dehydrate for example pasta sauce that has cream or bacon as an ingredient? And then, assuming I can successfully do this, will the sauce keep in the field if vacuum sealed? (Assuming I've kept the sauce in the freezer before the trip, and during the trip I manage to keep the food from getting hot inside the big blue barrel...)



Thanks!


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PostPosted: February 2nd, 2013, 12:36 pm 
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bimber wrote:
I'm new to dehydrating - having read up on it for a while, I'm ready to start experimenting...

Assuming I get the hang of drying ingredients, I hope to be able to dry entire meals or meal components. I know chilli and pasta sauce can be dehydrated, but I'm wondering about the presence of certain ingredients.

So I have two related questions.

Is it possible to dehydrate for example pasta sauce that has cream or bacon as an ingredient? And then, assuming I can successfully do this, will the sauce keep in the field if vacuum sealed? (Assuming I've kept the sauce in the freezer before the trip, and during the trip I manage to keep the food from getting hot inside the big blue barrel...)!
General guidance is to minimize fat content in dehydrated food, as it can turn rancid. As fat does not dry, any residual makes a mess on the final product. That would include cream or bacon. However, I do successfully dehydrate sauces with minor fat content, especially if there is a starchy binder included in the mix (such as pasta and the like), provided it is kept in the freezer for any prolonged pre-trip period. Never had any trouble with a couple of weeks storage in the field. If the bacon is well drained and dry, it should not be a problem. But I would much go easy on any high fat cream. If you note a greasy feel to the end product, it might not keep as long.

As an alternative, separately bring along packaged bacon-bits (real stuff) that is available on supermarket shelves. Add prior to eating. You can make a nice cream sauce using whole-milk powder, such as Nido and a little on-site creativity. Maybe even consider pre-packaged white sauces/gravy mixes to add at chow time. For recipes that just taste better with some fattiness, bring a tiny nalgene bottle of olive oil to drizzle in the food when ready to eat.


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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2013, 8:23 am 
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I tend to dry some ingredients separately. All my meat is done on its own and all ingredients bagged separately. If there are any problems in the field then we can usually get by without one ingredient. As mentioned the biggest enemy in shelf life is the fat. I have only had one issue on a trip. Some stew meat I had dehydrated went off. It was due so a small amount of fat that I neglected to trim off. If you dehydrate and keep in freezer till you trip I think you will find almost anything will keep for a couple of weeks easy. Some new recipes I try I will leave a small amount out on my counter to see how long it will keep.
Keep experimenting. You can dry almost anything.

Regards Randy


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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2013, 10:16 am 
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Hello Bimber,

My wife and I have been dehydrating our camping meals for canoe-tripping and backpacking for years now. It's fun and easy.

Below are a couple of instructional videos we made specifically for those who want to dehydrate meals for camping and they should answer some of your questions and remove a lot of the guesswork.

With respect to your specific questions:

Pasta and chili sauces will last for weeks and weeks in the field if properly dehydrated and kept dry. Provided you vacuum seal your bags or use Ziplock bags with the air squeezed out of them, your meals will be fine. They won't spoil unless moisture gets into the individual bags.

The other consideration, mentioned by others already, is reducing fat content. Fats eventually go rancid. It usually takes weeks before this happens and, while it won't harm you, it can spoil the taste of an otherwise delicious meal.

With respect to refrigeration, we dehydrate our meals and ingredients for the whole year in the early spring, put them in Ziplock bags, and toss them into the freezer. If you leave them longer than a year, some foods will take on a slightly freezer-burned taste. The refrigeration just permits you to store your foods longer without fear that moisture will get in or that whatever moisture has gotten in will cause spoilage.

The temperature of your food barrel doesn't matter. What matters is moisture content. If there's no moisture in your individual dehydrated meal bags, then the food won't absorb it and won't spoil. Our food barrel routinely hangs in full sun all day long and it's never been a problem.

Regarding sauces containing milk or cream, I wouldn't want to dehydrate sauces that have a lot of it, as the fat content will be too great and this means that it doesn't become as light or small, and the more fat there is, the more rancid tasting it can get. But we have even dehydrated cottage cheese as an ingredient for breakfast wraps. Just remember that fats don't dehydrate and will go rancid after some weeks, so keep those meals in the freezer until you pack your barrel.

Here are the links to our dehydrating vids:

http://youtu.be/hu1-9DkmUKI

http://youtu.be/J3iYj025fcg


Hope this helps,
- Martin

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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2013, 3:31 pm 
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Thank you for the detailed answers!

I will have to start experimenting now!


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PostPosted: February 3rd, 2013, 3:47 pm 
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There are more and more books on the market about home dehydrating, but I highly recommend two available on Amazon:

Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook
Lots of general guidance to home dehydrating food. The "bible" to educate you on the basics of general home dehydrating a wide variety of foods.

and

Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail, by Linda Yaffe. Geared toward backpacking with hearty home-cooked meals. Lots of interesting recipes you probably never would think of, but many are really good. It will get you thinking about modifying your own recipes. This book has from time to time been available for free as a kindle book on Amazon.

The general rule is you can dehydrate anything that is made up of small, relatively uniform sized components, and has very little fat (though some is ok, especially if you do not expect to keep it very long). For complete one pot meals, anything of a casserole nature falls neatly into this category.

Do not "cook" when rehydrating. Simply boil water separately, pour over the food, and keep it insulated in a "cozy" for 20 minutes - a little less for some, a little more for others. It will remain hot and return to freshly prepared state.


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PostPosted: February 4th, 2013, 10:45 am 
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Chili is one of my favourite meals to dehydrate, and eat in camp. Others pretty much covered it, but it is easy to do. We keep it for weeks with no problems, and if longer, it goes into the freezer. A bit of freshly grated cheddar on top, and a side of bannock, complete with a glass of red, and let the warmth and comfort flood your body as you consume. Damn, I am getting hungry as I type.

Another favourite is lasagna. We bake it at home, then dice it up into fairly small pieces, suitable for dehydrating, then dry it. It rehydrates great, and though more like a stew than a big fat piece of lasagna, it certainly tastes great. I have had many folks love it when it is my turn to cook supper in a group. Either bannock or focaccia bread make a nice compliment, as again does red wine. :)

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PostPosted: February 4th, 2013, 10:58 am 
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I'll second the lasagna suggestion. You can bake your own and dehydrate it, or else buy a frozen one from the grocery store, bake it, then cut it up and dehydrate it. When re-hydrated, it looks more like a stew as dunkin' described, but it tastes terrific.

-Martin

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PostPosted: February 4th, 2013, 11:08 am 
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An option for bacon is to buy the pre-packaged cooked bacon at the grocery store. I have found real bacon, not just simulated bacon in sealed packaging that does not require refrigeration before opening.

For the milk based sauce, do you need to make it up ahead of time or can you make it up in the field using powdered milk? Milk powder works great for us in anything that is cooked. It's not as great to make a glass of milk.

For 4 day trips, I generally make up the chili ahead of time and dehydrate the complete chili. Like others, if I'm dehydrating months ahead of time I'll toss the dehydrated chili in the freezer just because I can. For some reason, spaghetti sauce works better if I dehydrate the sauce and meat separately. For longer trips I'll dehydrate ingredients separately. I use a couple of recipes that have celery in them. Celery is the ingredient that is most likely to go moldy on me, just because it has such a high water content to start with that it takes a lot of patience to get it fully dehydrated, so I always pack it separately. On the plus side, celery rehydrates really well.

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PostPosted: February 4th, 2013, 5:04 pm 
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Splake wrote:
For the milk based sauce, do you need to make it up ahead of time or can you make it up in the field using powdered milk? Milk powder works great for us in anything that is cooked. It's not as great to make a glass of milk.
Don't use the wimpy "non-fat dry milk powder" that you commonly see. Instead use whole milk powder, such as Nido. You can get it at Walmart in the Mexican section, about $14 for a large #10 can (3.5 pounds). A glass of this actually tastes like fresh whole milk, and is great mixed with whatever can use added nutrition and rich flavor.

While you are at Walmart, get a packet of McCormick country gravy and a package of frozen cooked hash browns (like the bricks you get at McDonalds). If you have an Aldi's this is the place to get it cheap. Break the hash browns up into rough chunks and dehydrate - it won't take very long. After it dries it is easily crumbled into small grainy particles that are very light and take up very little space. It might be just slightly greasy, but that adds flavor. I've not had any problems with this product going bad for at least several weeks after dehydrating. Freezer storage will guarantee a long life.

The best part is that the hash browns will rehydrate quickly in less than 5 minutes in a mug with an equal volume of added boiling water. Cook up a packet of the country gravy mix (takes about a minute), and add some packaged real bacon bits, or rehydrated ground beef. Wonderful stuff on a cold morning.


Last edited by nessmuk on February 5th, 2013, 12:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: February 4th, 2013, 6:52 pm 
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As an add on to the supremarket pre-cooked bacon idea you can buy good quality bacon and pre-cook it yourself. This gets rid of the grease and a lot of weight. Wrap it in wax paper and seal it in a ziplock. Heat and serve.


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PostPosted: February 5th, 2013, 12:19 pm 
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Stencil wrote:
As an add on to the supremarket pre-cooked bacon idea you can buy good quality bacon and pre-cook it yourself. This gets rid of the grease and a lot of weight. Wrap it in wax paper and seal it in a ziplock. Heat and serve.

I do the same, but wrap in foil. Then I can just toss a pack of foil-wrapped bacon beside the fire (or on top of the wood stove when winter camping) and in a few minutes I have hot bacon with no dishes, just some greasy foil to deal with. Much faster, much cleaner, much lighter, and just as tasty as frying bacon from scratch on a trip (which I have also done but have convinced my trip partners to stop doing). These packs of pre-cooked bacon I store in the freezer prior to the trip, on the trip their shelf life is dependent on how dry you fried them.

I second the suggestion of hash browns, I've not used the bricks but rather either the diced or shredded potato type hashbrowns. Both work, though I think the shredded style works a bit better for rehydrating. These also make a decent addition to soups and stews.

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PostPosted: February 5th, 2013, 1:59 pm 
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http://www.medallionmilk.com/
is another good whole milk product.

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PostPosted: February 5th, 2013, 5:11 pm 
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I knoe we are off topic, but some of our local warehouse type stores sell large cartons of dehydrated shredded "hashbrowns" in the same dept you find the instant mashed potatos. Carton is about 1 gallon size.

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PostPosted: February 5th, 2013, 6:43 pm 
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You can make your own pasta sauce using tomato powder and avoid the rancid fat problem. Just mix up tomato powder, Italian spices, chives, garlic powder etc and then add some olive oil when you decide to rehydrate the pasta sauce mix.
You can buy tomato powder from Walton Feed Mill in Idaho.
You can also buy, dried sour cream and dried butter powder, used in Chicken a la King and Beef Stroganoff.
Some things don't dehydrate well in a home dryer. Sour cream powder is made in a spray dryer, and lasts a long time if you store it in a freezer.

I noticed in one of the above posts that someone said they got freezer burn on a dehydrated meal. That would indicate that the meal was not properly dried ( dehydrated ) before storage. Freezer burn only occurs when moisture is present in a frozen product as a result of sublimation.


Last edited by Mac on February 6th, 2013, 7:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

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