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Re: dehydrators

Hello Poohbear -

You asked:

>...American Harvest Snackmaster 2200...I don't know what the heck to do
>with >this thing!...Can anybody out there help out???...I'm a veggie.

Unwrap it (save the funky paper!), wash it, and set it up next to where you
eat your cooked meals.  Each meal, scrape your leftovers into the
dehydrator.  Dry the stuff till it crunches.  Keep track of what all the
little piles of dry twigs used to be and store them in airtight jars kept
in a cool place (room temp, out of the sunlight...I like to use 1/2 gal
maraschino cherry jars that I scrounge from Dairy Queen <g>).

Try rehydrating the twigs at various times after dehydration (one month, 3
months, 6 months, etc.).  Remember which stuff tastes and keeps good, toss
the rest.  Not doing meat simplifies your food prep.  Cooked meat
dehydrates and keeps fine, but unless you vacuum-bag, it has a shorter
shelf life than cooked veggies because the oils can go rancid (taste musty)
after a while (4-6 months).

I used a home dehydrator for two long hikes (killed a Waring when I did the
AT, used two AH Snackmasters with twelve trays each when I was doing up our
food for the PCT) and for a number of shorter hikes with a group.  Long
hike, small group...short hike, big group...same food problem when you

On my first distance hike (AT, MEGA'93), my wife dehydrated my food as I
was hiking.  We learned what worked best for me as the hike progressed.  It
turns out (after a month or two) that I was perfectly happy to eat
ANYTHING...and plenty of it <g>!  She dehydrated everything from pizza to
mincemeat...some I didn't like worth a hoot...but, I ate it all.

I did the PCT in '95 with my son (6', 220 lbs, eats like a horse...will eat
the horse, given a chance!).  My non-distance-hiking wife agreed to support
the trip on one condition...we do up the food beforehand!  We scrounged up
two maxed-out AH Snackmasters and spent two months doing up meals for six
months.  We decided to go with one cooked meal a day, so we only dehydrated
about 360 man/meals.

A local grower provided us with 100 lbs of cage-grown catfish (better than
cod!) and we bought frozen chicken breasts (skinless/boneless) in bulk from
Sam's.  We bought bulk bags of frozen veggies (green beans, English peas,
broccoli, stir fry mix, etc.) and big bags of dried beans (pinto, kidney,
lima, black, etc.).

We broiled the fish (lemon or lime juice, butter and salt), stripped the
bones, chilled it, ground it, and dehydrated it.  We cooked the chicken
(cast iron waterless cooking), chilled it, ground it, and dehydrated it.
We stored both meats in airtight glass jars for a week or so (mix up the
different batches and let them equalize) and then sealed the meats in 1-cup
vacuum bags.

We cooked the veggies the way we like them (some nuked, some simmered, some
with ham hock, some real salty, some with onion, all with hot peppers) and
then dehydrated it all.  We cooked the dried beans like we always do (some
with ham hock, some with beef soup bones, some with fatback, some meatless,
all with hot peppers) and dehydrated it all (juice included).  We stored
each veggie in airtight jars for a week or two and then bagged them in
1-cup chunks.

We like to use 1-gal plastic food storage bags (the kind that comes with
twist ties, NOT zip-loc) for veggies.  Dump in one cup's worth of dried
veggie, shake the contents down to the corner farthest away from the
opening, poof the air out, make a long twist out of the leftover bag, and
tie a slip knot (slippery half-hitch) at the very end of the twist.  This
keeps the bag airtight, allows the bag to be reused, and still allows the
contents to assume any shape (without the bag breaking) as you pack up your
mail-drop boxes.

Meat and veggies went into the freezer.  My wife would toss the packages
into a box (along with all the other stuff we bought in bulk) and mail it
to us.  The dehydrated cooked foods did fine on both trips (from the June
hot desert to single digit temps at 13,000' in the October high Sierras).
It got rained on, sat in stuffy post offices for weeks, bounced around in
our packs, got traded to other thru-hikers (who kept it for a while before
they ate it), and still did fine.  We honestly ate cheaper on the trail
than we would have at home, due to all the bulk buying.  Just about paid
the postage <g>.

We wound up taking less time on the PCT than we planned (mid-May to
mid-Oct: a little over 4 1/2 months actual hiking...we took off one week to
let Giardia do its thing and another week to meet our ladies at the Reno
Outdoor Equipment Show), so we had a bunch of dehydrated food left in the
freezer.  Much of it was used when our Scout Troop did a spring '96
week-long hike on the Pinhoti.  The rest will be used this summer...but, as
far as I can tell, we could keep it even longer if we want.

Congratulate your clever parents - dehydrators are a hiker's best friend
(well....almost!) and the Snackmaster appears to be one of the best!
Wouldn't do it any other way on future hikes <g>.

y'all come,
            Charlie II

charlie2@ro.com    Huntsville,Al