Hello everyone. Sorry it is been so long since I have posted. When I started, I promised myself I would not let too much time pass before I post something new. However, things happen I suppose and there have been quite a few road blocks. But I think I have finally overcome them and hope to post more often.
Now that we have stocked our kitchen with the tools needed to begin dehydrating there are a few things, if done in advance, will make your dehydrating project more successful and smooth. One thing I forgot to mention in the post, Getting ready to dehydrate, is that I highly recommend using a Muffin Top Pan for your baked goods. They make a sturdier cake and it is easier to seal them in a bag. I tried sending a regurlar muffin on past camping trips and it just didn't work. You can find them at Amazon.com. So you will need to order one of these fantasitc little pans!!
Make sure to have everything you need in your kitchen so once you get started you don't have to run to the store to get something you for got. You will need to order your food grade desiccant packs from Packit Gourmet a few weeks before you start to make sure you will get them in in time. I suggest ordering a pack more than you think you need to make sure you don't run short. These give me much security so I use them in everything. Also, you will need to get your Seal - A- Meal bags. Or what ever vacuum seal material you use. I count how many meals I will make and get a few more bags just incase one develops a hole. You will need to get the freeze and steam kind with pleats for your meals. For your baked goods and snacks, you can use the roll and determine the size of bag as you need. You will also need a black sharpie to label the bags always leaving a note on how much water to add and a reminder to remove the desiccant packet.
You will also need a roll of freezer paper and scissors. You will use this to line your dehydrator trays. I find this to be better than using the trays because the paper is more flexable and allows you to bend it to release the dehydrated sauces. You will want to cut the paper in the shape of your tray and place it in the tray with the shiny side up. Placing your food to dry on the other side allows the sauces to seep into the paper.
Ok, so now you are ready to plan your meals. I always incorporate Jacob into this part of the process. He will be the one eating it so I want to know his thoughts on what he would like to eat each day. You can find our first menu on the SCDiet page . Just scroll down to find SCD Melanie's Menu for Jacob's hike. I did send some new items on this last hike so I will post that menu soon.
Now to start making your meals. The whole idea behind dehydrating to preserve your meals is to get the moisture out of your food before packaging it. This will help your meals last longer. I have been told they can last up to 6 months if dried and vacuumed sealed with a desiccant package. However, I haven't tested this time out. But my meals have lasted just fine for 3 weeks at least. With this in mind you need to purchase the most lean meat you can find. You will need to have a roast or something cut down for your jerkey and there will be little scraps of fat left on the meat. I just use kitchen scissors and trim it.
Also, before dehyderating your meals with sauce, you will want to cook them as long as you can on a low heat to thicken up the sauces. This will lessen drying time and will prevent the sauce from just running all over your tray. I have found that the best meals to dehydrate are ones with a sauce. They seem to reconstitute better. The first trip, I sent chicken fajitis and Jacob said it was basically jerky. Never did reconstitute well.
Also if you wish to add fruit or vegetables to your muffins before you bake them, you will have to dehydrate them before adding them to the muffin. Sounds like it wouldn't be good but it is like adding a raisin and it will prevent your muffin from molding because of the moisture in the fruit. On Jacob's first campout, I didn't dehydrate the fruit and he had no muffins to eat. Tough lesson learned.
So if you keep these things in mind and prepare well in advance your dehydrating project can be a pleasent one. Planning is key. So take your time doing so. And you will end up with one very happy camper!!! Or hiker!!!