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Make your own camping meals

Started by bushy palmer, February 25, 2015, 11:01:13 PM

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bushy palmer

A few years ago I purchased a food dehydrator and started drying my own meals to take on fishing trips. To say it has been the best single piece of equipment that I have bought in the last ten years would be an understatement.

I know that Sandy at least had considered purchasing one in the last couple of years and if it has crossed anyone else's mind then all I can say is go for it! - The ability to tuck in to a piping hot- home made meal in the shittiest of weather is quite uplifting.

Over the months I've played around with recipes and systems of rehydration. In the end I settled on a system whereby I pour the dehydrated meal in to a food flask, cover with boiling water, go back to fishing for half an hour whilst the meal rehydrates. This system suits me perfectly as I never go anywhere without my kelly kettle strapped to the outside of my rucksack and it means that I don't have to carry a cooker. If you do carry a cooker you can achieve the same results by covering the meal with cold water, bringing it to the boil for a few minutes and covering for around ten minutes. We go with greedy 800ml portions which gives us close to 1000 calorie servings which is awesome during an arduous trip.

Drying or dehydrating food is quite simply a method of preserving food by removing water, thus inhibiting the growth of bacteria and mould that would otherwise cause the food to spoil. Dried foods are lightweight, compact and do not require refrigeration. There's virtually no limit to what you can dehydrate. I started by cooking things I like to eat at home. Some recipes I've had to adjust slightly in order to either help them store or rehydrate well. For instance, the dehydrating process will only remove water, fat will not be removed and large quantities can go rancid and thus spoil the food, therefore you will need to remove as much of the fat as possible during cooking.

A good dehydrator will cost you about £60- the best will cost just £300- depending how much you use it, it should pay for itself in a single fishing season. To put this in perspective, last June my Cousin and I went on a 7 day fishing trip, we ate like kings, 3 meals per day and our total food bill was less than £45 between us.

Here's a couple of my favourite recipes. If you're still not sure whether you want to take the plunge and buy a dehydrator, reduce the following lists proportionately. You can then dehydrate your meals in a conventional fan assisted oven by setting the temperature to 70degrees C and leaving the oven door open slightly to allow moisture to escape.

Chilli Mac:

This recipe should see you good for 4 main meal servings or 8 lunch sized portions.


675g beef mince
4 onions
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin baked beans
1 tin kidney beans in chilli sauce
1 tin kidney beans
2 dsp garlic
2 dsp hot chilli powder
1 dsp cayenne pepper
4 cups of macaroni
2 dsp of salt
1 1/2 litres of beef stock


Brown the mince in a large pan with no added oil. Begin with a low heat to ensure the mince doesn't stick. Slowly increase the heat and cook the mince for around ten minutes to release as much of the fat as possible.
Transfer the browned meat to a colander and discard the oil. Rinse the mince thoroughly under a hot tap to remove any remaining fat.
Sweat the onion in the pan for around five minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Return the mince to the pan with the garlic, cayenne and chilli powder and fry for one or two minutes.
Add the kidney beans, baked beans, tinned tomatoes and stir well. Cook for around two minutes before adding the stock, purée and salt. Stir all the ingredients together and simmer for twenty minutes uncovered stirring occasionally.

Stir in the macaroni and continue to simmer until the macaroni is cooked through.
Transfer your desired portion size on to the dehydrator tray ( or baking sheet if using a fan oven) and dehydrate at 70 degrees C for 6-8 hours flipping the meal once about half way through.
Dehydrated chilli mac will be brittle when done. Store using your desired method ( I use ziplock bags)

Chorizo Jambalaya:


4 cups rice
2 chorizo sausage
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 green pepper
2 stalks of celery
4 large onions
4 heaped dsp Cajun mix 3+1
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 dsp tomato purée
1 1/2 ltrs chicken stock


Cut the chorizo sausage into thin slices and place in a large pan. Don't add any oil. Place the pan over a low heat and warm the sausage gently stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't stick. Cook gently for around 6-8 minutes until the sausage has released most of it's oil before transferring to a colander and discard the oil. Rinse the sausage thoroughly under hot water to remove as much of the oil as possible. Transfer the drained sausage to a bowl and stir 1 heaped dessert spoon of the Cajun mix and set to one side.
Place the onion, peppers and celery in to the pan over a low heat. Don't add any oil as there will be some residual oil stuck to the sides of the pan that will be enough to allow you to soften the vegetables. Cook gently until the onions begin to take on some colour and become translucent.

Stir in the remaining Cajun spice mix and continue to cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Add the rice, tinned tomatoes and tomato puree and give everything a good stir.
Cook gently for a few minutes before adding the chicken stock. Bring the whole mixture to the boil and turn the heat down and allow to simmer, stirring occassionally, until the rice is cooked. Return the chorizo sausage to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Transfer your desired portion size on to the dehydrator tray ( or baking sheet if using a fan oven) and dehydrate at 70 degrees C for 7-10 hours flipping the meal once about half way through.
Your Jambalaya is ready when everything turns brittle and crumbles between your fingers. Store using your preferred method.

rannoch raider

Nice recipes! Your Chorizo Jambalaya looks like the perfect choice of 'main' to accompany my usual starter of 8 x 500ml cans of well chilled Budweisser. All served at a table by a roaring deadwood fire under a clear starry sky of course !

Roll on spring time!


Sounds really good. I remember the posts from before. A couple of queries based on your trials .....

1) If you just use a domestic oven at a lowish temperature like 60-70C as you say then would it work just as well as your proper dehydrator ?? Leave it overnight on a low fan setting ??
2) Also, if you are making your stuff fairly close to the dates of the trip do you really need to take out the fats if the storage time is not too long ?? I guess the fats are tipped off so that the mix does not get rancid in storage but fats add a lot to the taste and the energy value. Maybe the fats make drying more difficult.
~  <°))))):><       ~   <°))))):><

bushy palmer

Yes spot on. I've used normal fan oven to dry and the results were pretty perfect. Your only limitation is actual useful drying space. This means you'll be drying just one or two meals at a time which can make them expensive.

Re the fat. I had similar reservations re the flavour however by playing around with recipes I've found that you won't notice the difference besides you won't remove 100%. I have found that it really is worth making the effort to remove aad much as possible as large quantities can turn bad in a very short period. I used fish in a dish last year that  had a high fat content and it was honkin after just 24hrs in my bag


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