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Re: [pct-l] Dehydrating Goodies

Hello All -

Karen asked:

>I am curious whether anyone out there has experience dehydrating food
>for the PCT or another similarly long hike, and can give me some idea
>of how long I should expect to need for the process of dehydrating food
>for myself for the PCT next year?
>Any ideas on when I should start dehydrating, if I expect to run the
>dehydrator 5 days per week until I'm finished?

My wife dehydrated the food that I used on the AT as I hiked, so we don't
really have a good way to figure how long it took to do the food for that
six months (my son was with me for the first 3 months of hiking).

I dehydrated the food ahead of time that my son and I used on the PCT.  It
took me a couple of months to do up about 350 man/meals for the hike.  I
dehydrated 13 veggies (cooked), two meats (cooked) and fruit leather.  I
bagged the veggies (NOT zip-loc!) into 1-cup portions and chunked them into
the freezer.  I vacuum-bagged the meats into 1-cup portions and also
chunked them into the freezer.  The fruit leather stayed in the fridge
until it was put into the resupply box that my wife mailed to us every week
or so.

We did the PCT hike in '95.  We had a BUNCH of food left over (only took us
a little over 4 1/2 months trail time instead of the 6 months that we
planned for), so the surplus stayed in the freezer.  I am still eating it

Test some recipes for the cooked foods that you think you will like (cook
them the way that you would cook them for eating at home).  Dehydrate, bag,
and freeze them.  Use them on your training hikes...fine tune your recipes
and the way that you do them up as you go along.  As you get confidence
that you ARE doing foods that you really do like to eat and that fits your
thru-hiking "style", just start doing up more and more of that particular
item.  After a while the freezer will be full and you will have to go do a
thru-hike to get it empty again <g>.

IMHO, the LAST thing that any of us would want to do is find out about the
third week out that we simply can't stand whatever it is that we have a
freezer full of!

I dehydrated left-over food from a Scout camp's kitchen for a month-long
section hike on the CDT last fall.  Not my favorite meal choices,
sometimes...but it got me on the trail for a great hike during an otherwise
busy time and I couldn't argue with the price <g>.

Properly prepared/stored cooked trail foods seem to last quite a while
before they start bollixing up your innards.  If I was getting ready for a
hike in '00, I would start doing up my food now.  I am planning a section
hike on the CDT this fall and I have been doing up food (when the mood
strikes) for the last few months.  I like to cook up a fairly big batch of
a given food item, eat a few meals of it while it is fresh, and then do the
rest up for the trail.

Owen said:

>My wife and I have dehydrated food and have found that we
>do not save much money when the cost of the electricity for
>the dehydrator if worked in.... If I was doing it to save money
>I would build a solar dehydrator.

Good idea on the solar dehydrator.  Another option is to scavenge waste
heat around the house (above the hot water heater, furnace, etc.).  I
estimate that it costs me about $5-7 for a week of round-the-clock
dehydrating (American Harvest Snackmaster, 15 trays at a time).  When you
added in the maildrop postage and the dehydrator electrical costs, I still
ate cheaper on the trail than I would have at home...NEVER underestimate
the power of bulk buying and serious scrounging!

BTW, another good way to dehydrate trail food is to keep the dehydrator by
the dining table and to simply scrape your leftovers into it...

Good luck with the trail meals!

- Charlie II  AT (MEGA'93)
             PCT (Mex@Can'95)
         Chipping away at the CDT

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