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[pct-l] More on Jerry's Procedure [Food dehydration]

This is a longish account of how I used Jerry's procedure to significantly
upgrade our backpacking meals.

I purchased an American Harvest 8 tier dehydrator and a vacuum packaginging
rig via the internet. It costs less than $200. I found 8 trays more than
sufficient. Probably 4 would have been enough.

I hike in the Sierra where bear canisters are required but water is
plentiful. We repackage everything into baggies for packing in the canister.
Generally we get a week's food for two adults in the canister.

Our kitchen consists of a Primus Titanium stoves [3 ounces] with a MSR
windscreen, a BakePacker [4 ounces] and a single titanium pot 10 oz]. A
second pot and stove should be added if three pack because the added volume
makes preparation harder. The stove must be able to simmer accurately. I
personally would not try this style of eating with either an alcohol stove
or a white gas flamethrower.

Our dinner menu consists of a rotation of:
1-Spaghetti with meat sauce [Ragu sauce, ground beef, spaghetti]
2-Tuna Noodle Cassarole [Canned Tuna, Condensed Mushroom Soup, Celery, egg
noodles, cheese]
3-Various Burrito concoctions [Tortillas, dried bean mix [Fantastic brand],
rice, ground beef, cheese]
4-Quesadillas [Tortillas, cheese, canned ortega peppers]
5-Various hamburger helper meals.

Generally the Hamburger Helper meals were the easiest to prepare, had the
least bulk and tasted the worst [About like Hamburger Helper at home]. We
simply dehydrated lowfat hamburger without any seasoning, then packaged it
in appropriate amounts in baggies. We found that about 1/2-2/3 of a
Hamburger Helper package was sufficient for the two of us. In terms of bulk,
we found that elbo macaroni and straight twist pasta had the least bulk and
fancier pasta had the most bulk. Therefore we sometimes substituted pasta.

The Quesadellas and Burritoes were the easiest to prepare, tasted great, and
consumed little volume in the canister but were relatively heavy. We found
that medium cheddar will last a week in the bear canister without any more
special precautions than attempting to keep the canister out of the sun.
When the cheese gets hot it will melt, get runny and look horrible but once
it cools off it hardens, becomes sliceable and tastes normal. We used 1
ounce individually wrapped [by the manufacturer]packages of cheese. This was
a pain but it was critical to use unwrapped cheese that evening and not try
to store any unwrapped cheese during the day or risk a big mess. If I were
to do this over again I would use the vacuum pagkager to wrap 4 ounce chunks
[or find them already packaged in this size] of Longhorn medium cheddar and
skip the individual slices.

The spaghetti and tuna noodle cassarole were the hardest to setup, hardest
to prepare but tasted incredible. The tuna cassarole, in particular, was a
pain but tasted awesome. In addition to dehydrating canned tuna [easy] it
was necessary to dehydrate Cambell mushroom soup [hard] and celery [easy].
The soup was hard because Jerry's procedure calls for spreading the liquid
very thinly in the dehydrator and the chunks of mushrooms made this
difficult. Nevertheless it worked. We found the best way to turn "leather"
[the resuly of dehydrating liquid sauces and soups] into powder is to 1)
Spread them very thin per Jerry and 2) Freeze the leather in a heavy ziplock
bag. When frozen it will crumble easily. The celery was cooked before
dehydrating it. We packaged all items separately and reconstituted
everything in its own baggie. A BakePacker helps here because it will keep
individual baggies warm.

Assembling this without a mess was a challenge. First we rehydrated
everything. Second, we cooked the egg noodles then we drained them and
placed them in a large bag in the Bake Packer. Next we folded in the cheese
cut up into little chunks. Then we folded in the mushroom soup and tuna.
Finally we let the ingrediants cook in the BakePacker for 15-20 miniutes. 

Obviously Brian could walk 6 miles in the time it takes to do this but then
this ain't corn pasta......