View Full Version : Food

12-31-2004, 10:20 AM
I have always hated the food aspect of packing trips. I like good food, but typically on a back pack trip, especially solo, I don't want to spend the time to cook elaborate meals.

I have seen some links for a sausage. I have also read about people drying other pre cooked meals. You can live on store bought dehydrated meals, they just get old quick.

My thought and I don't know if it is feasible, is to have a section, or Essay with recipes, and links.

01-01-2005, 12:54 AM
Happy New Year,
I lived in Dayton, OH for a few years and it wasn't until I moved away that I heard about these folks.
Enertia Trail Foods (http://trailfoods.com/index.html)

They have dehydrated not freeze dried meals that are light, quick, and surprisingly tasty. The Cheesecake is a real treat after a hard day. They're a little on the bland side but a little extra spice packets or some tobasco will juice them up. My favorite part is that most meals cook in the bag so there's no dishes to wash (other than a spoon).

I've been dehydrating meal components for years. Jerky, fruits, vegetables, and even eggs. Spaghetti and pizza sauces I think were the best hit on the trail. I've never done "complete" meals though. This sounds like a great ideal though.

Most any of the supermarket instant rice or noodle meals can be easily adapted for the woods. Some butter buds, milk powder, and boiling water and you've got a quick meal. It seems like four side servings are about equal to a full meal (about 2 cups).

I like the idea of a separate section or recipe archive. I'm curious to see what folks are making with the fruits of their labor....


01-01-2005, 10:55 AM
I, too, have tried the Enertia Trail Foods and found them to be very good, compact,filling and reasonably priced for trail foods. As JM stated, they can use some extra seasoning. The sample case they sell is a good deal if you're interested in trying it all.


01-01-2005, 11:02 AM
A lot of the supermarket stuff is pretty decent and light. I have started to use some of the plastic pack meats (chicken, ground beef, tuna) with instant rice, instant noodles or the "helper" mixes. The precooked bacon is also good and actually costs less than uncooked bacon by the slice. Game needs fat, though, so I carry some regular bacon most of the time. Lentils are also good, cheap and light and cook up with just about anything you care to toss in with them.

You can still get dried onions and mixed vegetables to toss in the stewpot.

If going out for a couple of days you can use the old "student ragu" I used as a scout. Layer potatoes, carrots, onions and beef in a can or small pot along with a little bit of broth or water (broth is better.) We used coffee cans when coffee was packed in a tin with a key-opened top. Punch a few holes in the can when ready and stick in the fire to simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Put the whole thing in the freezer and it will keep for several days if wrapped in your spare sweater or other insulator.

If you cook on a fueled stove, look into a pot cozy working on the old "fireless cooker" principle. Bring to a rolling boil, pot into the cozy and let it sit for a bit longer than the boil cooking time (example - for pasta needing 5 minutes boil leave it in the cozy for about 6 minutes).

Since I almost always have a fire, I let it create some coals. Use the alcohol, gas or gasoline stove to bring water to a boil, then simmer on the coals. I also use the coals for frying. Preheat the pan on your fuel stove, then set on the coals. Better than trying to adjust a cranky stove to simmer.

Carry an empty wide-mouth nalgene bottle pour in beans/lentils/barley etc with a little water and let it soak while you walk. Speeds cooking time.

Cooking game try Patrick's trick of dicing on the bone. Tenderizes the meat and allows quicker cooking.

If you don't do the shopping, take a slow tour through your local market. The convenience foods are varied, plentiful and frequently dried. These also taste like real foods, the average city-type won't tolerate cardboard flavor just beacuase it's light. Look in the ethnic sections and also look in any ethnic market you have available. Asians especially seem to have a variety of interesting dry stuff.

If you will be in a base camp for awhile try the ground cooker. Dig a hole a little bigger than your lidded pot and maybe 6-8" deeper. Make a stew - meat carrots, potatoes, onions, a little water, bouillion, broth. Cover with a tight lid (use a double layer of foil if the lid is too loose). Do the slice and dice while heating up some small rocks. Heat up the stew mixture to a rolling boil, cover. Move hot rocks and some good hot coals to the hole, and put pot on top. a few smaller hot rocks and some coal on the lid, then cover with dirt (that why you want a tight lid).

When you get back from your day, dinner should be ready.

If you like fresh cooked oatmeal, you can do the same with oatmeal and water. Dig it up in the morning for a hot breakfast.

This is probably too much trouble if out alone and just for a day or two, but with a group in a fixed camp for awhile, it makes sense.

I've done this with cast iron dutch ovens (not backpacked) when I had them available.

You can also seal the lid with some stiff Bisquick. Roll ot out like a rope then pinch around the lid.

Buried like that it doesn't attract critters, either. Fill in the hole when you leave, of course.

If you have a wide-mouth vacuum bottle, you can make cereal by tossing the grain (oatmeal, wheat, rice, etc. in the bottle with the correct amount of boiling water. Seal up and stash overnight, wake up to hot cereal.

I'm going to start another thread - Coolers you may want to look at.

01-02-2005, 07:25 AM
Having switched the pack from me to the horse opened up a brave new world of backcountry cuisine. There are a very large number of "pre-cooked' foods out there. Though heavy, there are several advantages; being esentially a boil in bag type of meal it is very easy to cook and clean up. The sealed plastic bags keep smells to a minimum for our bruin friends, plus I just put them in a mesh bag and plunk them in a stream and they keep very nicely

01-03-2005, 10:29 AM
Hhaving a wood stove does open the options wide open. You can cook any of the rice or noodle side dishes that need to simmer for a while (just wasn't an option on my giga stove). Stovetop stuffing is another good one to change things up, works well with grouse.

01-04-2005, 09:34 AM
I started experimenting with bannock as described by Townsend Whelen and the Angiers in "On your Own in the Wilderness" then got sidetracked into making sourdough bread.

I intend to have fresh bread in camp this spring.

My favorite backpacking dinner recipes begin with these directions: Shoot a number of grouse and quail.(Or: Catch a number of pan sized trout.) ;-)

01-04-2005, 10:46 AM
Another little oddity I have is a small rectangular dutch oven in cast aluminum sold under the name of Woody's Oven by Indiana Camp Supply. Haven't seen anything about them lately so they may be out of business.

The dutch oven is far and way the easiest way to bake in camp. I love the cast iron ones, but without a chuck wagon they are too much weight. The aluminum isn't as good, but is adequate for the job.

One of my favorite desserts is a cobbler made from a moderately stiff Bisquick with sugar and fruit syrup added, topped with canned fruit - peahes are best, but cherries and berries are also good. The biscuit mix rises to enfold the fruit. Great with a cup of camp coffee.

01-05-2005, 06:34 PM
While you guys are talking about food and cooking, what kind of cooking hardware do you use. Most of it appears bulky and heavy for the space it takes up. I am used to MREs and heaters, eating straight from the bag. I need a few lessons on trail comfort. And here is one that is going to floor you guys...How do you make camp coffee? I am more of a tea man myself, but I imagine it could work in a similar fashion.


Ed T
01-05-2005, 09:21 PM
Camp coffee or cowboy coffee can be made several ways. This is the way I make it. Get your kettle of water to a boil. Spoon in desired amount of coffee. Bring back to a boil, take off heat and let the grounds settle before pouring. A little splash of cold water will help settle the grounds.

I have also made it by putting the coffee in the cold water and just bring to a boil. Either way it tastes good. I like a real dark coffee like French roast or Italian and I make it real strong.

Ed T

01-06-2005, 03:22 AM
Well Ed, we make our Joe the same way. And "real strong" too. I put it in the pot by the handful--never mind a sissy spoon. Sometimes by the hatful.

01-06-2005, 04:01 AM
Ed and Patrick,

Same here too, except I never bring it back to boil (But, I'll try that - perhaps it supercharges the coffee?) - after bringing the water off boiling and adding the grounds, I let it sit for a couple of minutes and then "sprinkle" cold water thru my fingers and it's good to go!

01-06-2005, 04:20 AM

Oh yeah, that re-boil is the ticket!

Dave R.
01-06-2005, 04:55 AM
Smackdaddyj...here's what I take on a backpack trip for cooking hardware. One Aluminum pot/cup....the kind that's shaped to go around an old army canteen. And one spork(spoon/fork combo.)

I use these two items for everything(add my victorinox hunter knife for three.) I kind of have my meals down to a progressive routine that allows me to use the same pot for everything...I have been known to pack a thin plastic coffee cup, but usually not. So, I cook and eat my meal in the same pot, I drink water from my back pack bladder, then after I eat I may make some hot drink and drink it from the cup or the pot. ...This sounds minimalist, but I have some real nice meals this way without lugging a ton of cooking gear.

Also, being bottom feeder, I sometimes scrounge gear( pots, pans) from buddies who brought everything but the kitchen sink!!

Good luck!


01-06-2005, 05:37 AM
I have been using those folgers coffee bags the last few years, the work great for single person 1 or 2 day trips. Cowboy coffee boil water, dump coffee in, about 2 times what you would normally use, try to get coarse ground coffee. bring to a low boil for a minute or two. Let cool add egg shells or cold water to settle the grounds, pour slowly, so you dont get grounds in your cup.

01-06-2005, 05:40 AM
My main interests are in perishable types of foods, ie meat, cheese, butter, etc. Pastas are easy, but they need protein to make a decent meal out of them.

01-06-2005, 06:21 AM
Butter: Clarified butter lasts as long as you need, you can buy it as Ghee in gourmet and health food stores. You can make it by melting the butter to cook out any remaining water and protein solids. You end up with an oil you can carry in a small nalgene. I switched to using olive oil because it is so much easier to acquire and deal with.

Cheese: Buy REAL cheese in small packages or vacuum pack it yourself into single day packs. It will last a while if it is sealed and not too hot, but turns real quick once you open it. I carry parmesan and cheddar--buy the high-dollar stuff that isn't full of added oil.

Meat: that's the easy one. Jerky, dried sausage, pre-cooked burger and bacon, foil-packed chicken and tuna; they are all will work--but fresh (caught or shot) is always better. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

01-06-2005, 06:46 AM
Coffee purists tend to prefer Stan's method--it will still make a robust cup if allowed to steep fully while less likely to release the bean's bitterness (ala a french press). That said, I still have a tendency to boil my coffee on a camp stove....

Smackdaddyj, do you use bags or loose leaf? As you can see, the method for camp coffee is very similar to brewing a pot of loose tea.

Regarding cookware, many on this board are using the titanium stuff; MSR & Evernew are good but Snow Peak may be the best in terms of quality for price. The aluminum is also light and, while not quite as durable, is much more affordable. MSR Blacklite/Duralite would be at the high end (in my opinion) but AntiGravity Gear makes a 2-qt nonstick pan for $10- that weighs under 6 oz w/lid, while a 1-qt Wal-Mart 'grease pot' costs around $5- and weighs about 4 oz w/lid. I generally carry one or two pots (.75 & 1.5 qt), a titanium cup, a spoon and part of a packtowl. Depending on the menu, I may throw in a lexan fork (0.3 oz?), GSI mini-spatula (0.4 oz), and a fry pan (although the lid on the larger pot will also double as a small fry pan). This is generally enough to cook for 1-3 people depending on what the other guy is packing.

01-06-2005, 07:06 AM

Thanks for the info. I have been conned into using loose leaf and I never looked back. I like that coffee gives you that quick "up and at them" in the morning, but if I drink it often, I have to have it to get going. I don't like that. Tea is nice on cold mornings, I like the flavor better than straight coffee (I put all kinds of crap in coffee so that I can choke it down) and if I can't get tea, I can still get up and get going. That is just how I look at it. My wife and sister are avid flavored coffee drinkers and think I am weird for drinking tea. I like your methods though, and think that will work just fine for tea.

Also, thanks for the hardware suggestions. I will start looking those up and see what I can find and afford. I have been doing the camping thing in the least comfortable way, but ever since I found Kifaru, I am looking at things in a totally different way.


Dale Lindsley
01-06-2005, 08:16 AM
For coffee, get it ground for Turkish style coffee, VERY fine, and it will settle out a lot faster. Starbucks will do this for you. My only problem with the cowboy style is that it is such a mess to clean up the coffee pot. On my last solo, I took a filter cone. Old, used filters and grounds went into the stove. On that trip I also took half&half singles. What a luxury.

01-06-2005, 08:25 AM

Just so you fellars don't think I am a part of the modern, purist, coffee-latte-datte crowd, according to my copy of the official 1938 USFS Lookout Cookbook, it states "coffee boiled is coffee spoiled". So there. :-). But hey, on a cold fall morning in game country, I'll drink it boiled too.

Dale Lindsley
01-06-2005, 08:52 AM
A recipe for grouse: Buy one of the packaged Thai or Indian curry pastes (these come sealed in plastic, inside a foil pouch and weigh maybe 3oz). Take minute rice, raisins and cashews. Cut grouse into bite sized pieces and fry. When almost cooked, add some curry paste and finish cooking. Add raisins and cashews and mix with cooked rice. Hard to beat! Cooked, freeze-dried green beans can be added too. My other favorite meal is dried Tortillini with sun dried tomato tapenade for sauce. The tortillini take a while to cook, but who cares. The tappenade is a paste of sundried tomatoes and olive oil that comes already made. Don't forget to take lots of parmesan cheese. And finally, cornbread. Make up a mix using dried eggs and dried milk so you can just add water (I suggest you add more egg than the recipe calls for and leave out the sugar!). Mix the batter as little as possible, then pour into a pot lid that has sizzling hot oil in it.Then you have to bake it by somehow suspending it above your stove, maybe set the pan on three rocks on the stovetop. Ideally you cover the baking pan with a larger pot to get the top of the cornbread well cooked. You can bake in the bottom of a regular aluminum pot too, if you heap coals on the lid while keeping the bottom just barely hot. The pot shouldn't be too big because the coals on the lid need to be pretty close to the top of the cornbread. If the lid of the pot can be inverted to hold the coals, all the better. Fan the coals to keep them real hot. Eat with butter, of course. Scones and bisquits can be made the same way without the sizzling oil. A fine hobby for after the sun goes down.

01-06-2005, 09:04 AM

I am a bit of a coffee purist... I am also a beer snob. And these are just a couple of the foibles I have to deal with on a daily basis. Be glad you are not me!

01-06-2005, 10:15 AM
Me, too, despite knowing that caffeine intake is even less of a good idea at high elevations. Only my therapist will know if I ever decide to buy one of those titanium espresso makers. That market niche for a good freeze-dried stout remains.

01-06-2005, 05:37 PM
The best outdoor tea for me is Lapsang Souchong, a very black smoked tea brewed usually loose in a little mesh teaball. I generally use freeze-dry coffee for lunch, brew it other times camp coffee style.

This winter I am rebuilding my kit, getting rid of my old stuff by gift or sale.

The solo cookset is a Primus Trekker 1 liter kettle in hard anodized aluminum, 2 small plastic bowls and 2 folding plastic cups with an Antigravity alcohol stove and a titanium Spork. (I carry 2 bowls and cups to offer modest hospitality to a guest.) I was looking for the MSR titanium kettle but all I could find here was the Primus. Hard anodized aluminum is nearly as tough as titanium and bit heavier, but less expensive. Works for me.

The larger kit for 2-4 people is an MSR Blacklight "Gourmet" with 1.5 & 2 liter pots and skillet with 1 lid fitting all. I also got the Alpine bowl rig that drops inside. In addition, I took the handle off a 10" square griddle (pot lifter again). The griddle is easier for pancakes and eggs. Utensils are either Sporks or mountaineer utensil sets. The alpine bowl includes a large ladle/spoon, a pasta drainer and a spatula. The round bag has a cutting board and I carry a flame diffuser plate that evens out the stove flame for frying without burning.

This is more than needed for walking, but I usually am in a canoe where the weight isn't that much of an issue.

I have a Silverstone mini-griddle with the handle cut off (use a pot lifter) for a fry pan if I plan on frying anything.

If I want to get fancy and bake I have a small cast aluminum dutch oven that works well.

The stove I use recently is the Sierra Zip woodburner. I also have an old Scorpion butane stove using the screw type canisters. This can be iffy early and late season, tho, the gas doesn't work well when it gets cold. If I feel lazy I toss in a bag of charcoal for dutch oven and Zip stove.

I use freezer weight ziplock bags for a lot of food storage. Heavier but less fragile than the lighter stuff.

The heavier kit I replaced is a Peak 1 Trekker stainless steel. Good kit, the pots stack on the stove so you can double boil or just keep things warm while cooking in the lower pot.

I generally have two emergency packs in the truck at all times. The heavier pack has a Peak 1 Solo cookset, the lighter one a Peak 1 Short Stack. The cup in each one holds a Sterno type can (Ecofuel or the Coughlin Camp Heat - better than Sterno) with a Piggyback stove that stores around the can and parks above it (haven't seen these in a long time. Too bad, it's a clever and workable idea). Not the best stove but for emergency use has advantages: long indefinite shelf life, low-tech/no parts, no toxic fumes and can be used as both heater and stove.

I have a small stainless steel telescoping grate for fire cooking. I generally use the stove to boil stuff and coals from the fire for simmering and frying.

That's pretty much the lineup now.

01-06-2005, 06:49 PM
Ah, well, Shu, I was only trying to justify that I am not a coffee purist, because my appreciation of good coffee is based on recognition of technique established long before the modern coffee craze. Yeah, I know: "what???" You can justify many things by this way of reasoning!

Ed C
01-06-2005, 07:07 PM

I think I know what camp coffee is. But just in case what is yours? I must confess when backpacking I use the coffee bags. Don't tell though.


01-07-2005, 07:54 AM
Stan, there is a lot of merit in doing things the 'old-fashioned' way. The old timers I have met knew more than I ever will.

Anthracitic--so what is "camp coffee"? And why do you keep deleting your posts?

01-07-2005, 09:39 AM
Now you did it Dale, I'm hungry

I often thought about a camp oven like some of the big outfitter stoves that fit in the chimney of the stove. A good loaf of fresh bread REALLY hits the spot on the trail--I use half of a bread machine recipe. Same cooking technique as scones only longer and a little less heat. An oven would make it a lot easier, though, and allow multitasking.

01-07-2005, 05:30 PM
I like the bags too for going light. For up to five days I want a detailed menu to keep weight down. Glynn

Below is an excerpt from The Lightweight Backpacker site, food section.

Coffee was an extensive discussion in the Light Gear Talk forum a while back ( Ti Coffee Press), and lots of different brewing methods were discussed. One that wasn't mentioned was cold brewing. Since I like to carry liquid coffee concentrate with me, I was intrigued by the cold brewing method (it creates a concentrate that you add to hot water). There are cold brew coffee makers available (Toddy Cafe is probably the most well known), but after reading about the 'method' I wasn't able to discern anything about the 'cofee maker' that created anything different than what you could do with a large container and a regular coffee filter. I decided to experiment with some ground coffee and a quart mason jar, and I'm happy to say, I don't need to spent $40 on a cold brewing 'system'! The result is a very smooth coffee that is significantly lower in acid than hot brew coffee, not bitter at all, and very easy to prepare. You can carry it backpacking, freeze it, or store it in the fridge for several days. I intend to make single serving packets using my vacuum sealer (freeze into cubes first, then seal).

Here's the method:

Place ~1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups coarsely ground coffee in a quart mason jar (or other quart jar). Add enough water, slowly, so that the grounds float to the neck of the jar. As you add the water, make sure all the grounds are wetted. Cover with a lid and set aside for 12 hours or so. Filter through a regular coffee filter into a small pitcher or other jar (I used a 1/2 qt mason jar). Add 2-3 oz to ~5-6 oz very hot water (more or less to taste). Of course, you can cold brew on the trail as well as at home, or carry the concentrate in a small bottle (I usually use an 8 oz baby bottle left over from my son).

By the way, the Toddy Cafe instructions call for 1 pound of coarsely ground coffee added to 9 cups of water. This creates 6 cups of concentrate. I don't think the ratio really matters all that much... the more coffee and less water, the more concentrated the brew becomes. I'm sure at some point there is a limit to the strength you can brew.


01-07-2005, 05:49 PM
Coleman makes a collapsible oven for use on top of a gas camp stove that works real slick on a woodburning cylinder stove.It is a little trickier to control temps on a woodstove compared to gas,but you can bake anything that will fit,from bisquits to bread to brownies to pies.I've seen them as cheap as $15 at the factory outlet store.For the bread lover at camp, its a good deal.And a lot lighter than even aluminum dutch ovens.Don