Here’s a sneak peak at what has been happening in our kitchen the past few weeks….
LOOOOOTS of dehydrating going on! Because we’re packing up and heading to Shackleford banks, NC with the kids! We’re super excited about this trip, but in all honesty it is a LOT of prepping and planning. So, I just keep my eye on the prize…. the gorgeous stars at night over the ocean, the shores of shells and not just any shells CONCH shells…. wild horses…. opening up the tent and being on a beach on the Atlantic…. nighttime camp fires with kids sipping on hot cocoa while I read Misty of Chincoteague Island to them so they can dream of horses and beaches!
But, there is very little information on packing food for a FAMILY out there. Individuals? Absolutely, no problem…. but families?
It’s like crickets…. and I wonder why that is…. is it because it’s hard? Lots of work? Kinda scary to take kids places without food, water, stores, etc? Has that stopped millions of parents from traveling and touring their kids through Disney World every day before? So, on I trudge. We’ve always been a camping family…. we’re just taking it to the next level now that all the kids are old enough. So, Christmas theme this year was all about backpacking…. lightweight sleeping bags, packs, hydration packs, etc etc. (Yes, even my 3.5yo. ;-)) It’s like a dawning of a new era….
To start out the food planning and prepping, I made out a menu…. refined it, refined it again and again…. made sure it was meeting all the nutritional needs…. and then started separating ingredients into items to dehydrate. Then when it’s all done, we combine items into bags, combine bags of things together to make meals and vacuum seal it all into a neat little package. The difference from what we can find on the web and what we’re doing is…. size and weight. My one concern is heating it all… the largest pot that we’re bringing is a 2L pot, so we want to make sure everything can always fit in there…. and one of our biggest obstacles was the form of stove to bring. We finally jumped through a few hoops and were okay-ed the transportation of “hexamine” on the ferry to get to the island…. so we ordered an esbit stove and tablets, but the pot that fits it is only a 20oz pot…. so we can boil water in 2C increments. That’ll be fine for breakfast and coffee…. but for lunch and dinner we’ll likely be boiling small amounts, adding to food, and then just having to wait for more water….. but if we had a traditional stove with us we’d be fine with our 2liter pot, so…. yeah…
For the fruit then! I decided on a variety… and I also dehydrated blueberries, but they were a pretty big pain, lol, so I’m not sure I would ever do it again. I took a whole bag of frozen berries, poked them, and it still took about 24hours of drying and when I packaged them all with oatmeal I noticed a little juice from a few yet…. so they’re in the freezer and we’ll eat those first.
As for the rest! I dried apples, pineapples, peaches, strawberries, and bananas!
I didn’t bother treating the apples or bananas…. we’re good with the color. So, since these two were the most “prep” I’ll start here! I peeled the apples, cored them, then sliced into 1/4″ slices. laid out on the sheets and dried them at 135*…. I think they took about 8 hours. Bananas, peal, slice, lay out, and dry (all fruit was dried at 135*). Recommendation for bananas would be to use parchment paper…. but my trays have a flexible mat so I was able to pop them off.
Strawberries, I used a few bags of frozen strawberries. Recommendations: Cut them thicker then I did, lol…. I think maybe 1/2″ sections…. I didn’t realize there was as much water in them and when I took them out they were (are) pretty paper thin, lol. 1 large bag of frozen berries became 1 cup worth of berries…..
Peaches and pineapples…. well I cheated. We have an Aldi by us and they sell organic canned foods for cheaper than non-organic at any other grocery store…. so…. I think 4 cans of pineapples, 2 cans of peaches. Again…. leave the peaches, I sliced mine in half and they reduced to nothing. I left the pineapple and they’re perfect. Both remain a little sticky…. but that’s okay, it’ll pair perfectly with salted nuts! (sweet and salty…. always yummy!)