I've been making my own dehydrated meals for walking trips for a few years now. It's quite easy, but some recipes turn out better than others. My technique is...
- Cook the meal(s) in the normal way
- Lay a sheet of baking paper on an oven rack
- Spread the food thinly over the paper
- Dry in a fan-forced oven at 80°C for about 18 hours. The time varies quite a bit, and it helps to stir the food around on the baking paper periodically to break up the larger lumps. Remember that you want the food to be thoroughly dried or it may spoil with disastrous consequences
- Pack the dried meals into ziplock bags, or better yet, vacuum sealed plastic bags. My local Ainslie IGA supermarket was very obliging here - they happily vacuum sealed a bunch of meals for me for the Larapinta trip in 2010. I've also used foil pouches made from aluminium foil backed with plastic packing tape.
I've never had a bad experience with this technique, but I'm also quite conservative with my expectations about the keeping properties of the end product. I usually prepare the food a few days before a trip.
Tomato, lentil and olive pasta 🔗
This recipe is a particularly good candidate for dehydrating as the lentils take about 45 minutes to cook during preparation, but considerably less time (and hence, fuel) to rehydrate.
- Ingredients (Probably makes 4 serves)
- vegetable oil for frying (olive oil, rice bran oil etc.)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1200g canned tomatoes
- 3/4 cup brown lentils
- 1 cup kalamatta olives, pitted and halved
- 1 large stalk of celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- small amount of finely chopped jalapeno chili (optional)
- teaspoon honey (or to taste)
- salt to taste
- 400g pasta
- Parmesan cheese (added at meal time)
- Fry the onion
- Add the celery, garlic and chili and fry
- Add the tomatoes, olives and lentils
- Add 1/2 cup water
- Add honey and salt to taste
- Simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are soft. Stir to avoid lentils catching on the bottom of the pan.
- Boil and drain the pasta
- Mix the pasta and sauce. Dry as described above
Mattar Paneer 🔗
This is a great meal for walks or cycle trips. If you're going on a cycle trip, pack enough of the non-perishable ingredients for several meals, and then just buy the cheese as you need it.
I'm not entirely sure about the keeping properties of dried feta, but I've made it several times over the years and it's been fine when rehydrated 2 weeks or so later.
- Ingredients (Probably makes 2 serves. YMMV)
- 50g ghee
- 4cm ginger root
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1.5 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 0.5 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 0.5 teaspoon hot chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- A few cups of frozen peas, or probably 50g to 100g Freeze-dried green peas.
- 350g feta cheese
- 3 tomatoes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon coriander leaves
- Serve with rice (Basmati is good - tastes good, takes 10 mins to cook)
- Method (10 - 30 mins depending on stove)
- Pound the coriander seeds, cardamom, chilli and tumeric together in a mortar and pestle.
- Finely chop the garlic and ginger
- Melt the ghee in a pot big enough to hold all the ingredients (Trangia works fine).
- Add the spices, ginger and garlic.
- Fry gently for, say, 5 mins. Don't overdo it. You don't want the garlic to caramelise.
- Add the peas and enough water to reconstitute them if you're using dried peas.
- Bring to boil
- Add the cheese. Break it up so that it melts quicker.
- Simmer gently and stir until all the cheese has melted and the peas are cooked
- Set the dish aside and cook the rice in another pot. It will stay hot for quite a while.
- Add the tomatoes and coriander leaves if you have them.
Ridiculously simple cous-cous and fish 🔗
This is so simple it's not even really a recipe: Buy some instant cous-cous meals and sachets of canned fish from the supermarket. Prepare the cous-cous as directed, add fish, reheat and eat.
There's not really any point in dehydrating this one. The sachets of fish do have quite a lot of water, but they're only 100g or so. The best thing is that cous-cous takes a minute or two to cook, which is a real plus when you're out bush.