(photo courtesy of @paulvillecourt)
By Sharon Brodin
Dehydrating your own food for wilderness canoe trips is a great option if you have the desire and the time to do it.
If packing light and easy meal prep are important to you, dehydrated food is the way to go. There are many options for pre-packaged meals on the market, but there are several advantages in learning how to prepare your own dehydrated meals.
Advantages of Dehydrating Your Own Meals
CUSTOM-MADE FOR YOUR OWN TASTE AND BUDGET
Between sometimes-sketchy taste and high-price-per-meal, you may prefer to learn how to dehydrate your own meals for canoe trips. You still get the advantage of ultra-lightweight, but you have control over taste and budget.
It’s also easy to adapt to food allergies and other dietary restrictions with a DIY approach.
A FUN WINTER PROJECT
If you live in the north like I do, the canoe trip season is relatively short. A great time to experiment with dehydrating your own food is during the winter. You’re probably looking for fun indoor projects anyway.
During my last canoe trip with my daughter and couple of her friends, we already started to talk about getting together to try dehydrating some meals together for next summer.
CAN DEHYDRATE YOUR MEALS FOR THE WHOLE SEASON…OR SEVERAL YEARS
Since the shelf life of dehydrated food is years, why not plan to batch it for the entire canoe trip season…or the next couple of years? Or if you’re also into backpacking, camping and other outdoor trips, you can make meals for these excursions at the same time.
Beef stew (photo courtesy of Thaddeus Lesiak)
What You’ll Need to Dehydrate Your Own Canoe Trip Food
Of course you can simply use your kitchen’s oven to dehydrate food (here’s one article on how to do that). But you’ll tie up your oven for 18 hours+ at a time. It’s a great way to try it out to see if it’s something you’d like to pursue before investing in a dehydrator, though.
A dehydrator uses little energy, won’t interfere with the rest of your life while you use it, and they’re available in many different places— both in-store and online. Check out Cabela’s website for a sample overview of styles and prices.
Thaddeus, my brother-in-law, has dehydrated his own canoe trip food for several trips now. His top recommendations for recipes (and he’s an excellent cook, so I trust him on this) are:
- TheYummyLife.com—From a dozen different types of oatmeal to Thai peanut noodles with chicken and veggies to apricot macadamia couscous. The post linked to here is chock-full of great storage and usage tips plus links to all kinds of recipes from website host, Monica.
- BackpackingChef.com—A wealth of information about preparing your own backpacking food, which easily translates into canoe trip food. “Chef Glenn” not only offers several cookbooks for sale, he offers a couple free PDF guides and an email newsletter about this topic.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll enjoy developing your own recipes. If not, you can spend a lot of time on these two websites for as many ideas as you’ll need.
Thai peanut noodles with chicken (photo courtesy of Thaddeus Lesiak)
What do you trade for great flavor, custom taste and less money spent? Your time. This isn’t something you can start the day before your canoe trip!
Plan on a couple days the week before, as Thaddeus does. Or take time over the coming off-season to experiment with dehydrating and different recipes.
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