Making your own yummy fruit leather

While I first made fruit leather for a camping trip, my kids are happy to just gobble it up at home!

I made some yesterday. Today my daughter said, “Did you take what you needed for your trip? I’m about to finish the fruit leather.”

Here’s my recipe for making it with a dehydrator (if you don’t have one, it’s possible to use your oven).

Ingredients:

  • frozen mixed fruit (600 gram bag)
  • unsweetened applesauce (1/2 cup)
  • vanilla extract (1/4 tsp)

Directions:

  1. Add fruit, applesauce and vanilla to small saucepan.

2. Cook at medium heat until it boils. Lower temperature and simmer for 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked through.

3. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Puree with food processor (in batches if need be).

5. Pour onto parchment lined dehydrator trays.

6. Dehydrate at 135 F for 4-10 hours, depending on your machine. It’s ready when you can touch it without getting sticky, gooey fingers!

7. While still warm, peel it off the parchment, roll it, and break it into pieces. Enjoy!

It keeps well in the fridge and freezer, but never lasts that long at my house. You can experiment with the recipe by using a little lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, or a different combination of fruits.

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Menu for fall 6-day hike of the entire Coastal Trail at Lake Superior Provincial Park

Variety is the spice of life, right? When I’m camping in the backcountry, I don’t want to eat the same food every day, and I most definitely don’t want to eat bar after bar after bar! I want food that is (mostly) healthy, homemade, delicious, nutritious, filling, and different, while being as lightweight as possible!

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Eating some delicious soup with tree bark, since someone forgot to pack spoons!

This fall, I will be hiking the full length of the Coastal Trail at Lake Superior Provincial Park. My friend Cheryl and I are planning to cover the 65+ km in 6 days, but will carry food for a 7th day if need be. The trail goes through the forest, across sandy beaches, rocky beaches, small boulders, big boulders, has endless ups and downs, and boasts some incredible scenery along the shore of Lake Superior. I have hiked parts of it, but never the full thing.

Our plan is to hike from north to south, starting at the Gargantua Harbour access point, hiking the northern end of the trail (to Devil’s Chair and Chalfant Cove), and then hiking south toward the Visitor Centre.

We have planned out our menu based on past trips, knowing how much food it takes to keep us energized and raring to go, and keeping in mind our food preferences! We like to use lots of fruit and vegetables, but have some treats too. It took some experimentation but after many backpacking trips, including an 8-day hike of the entire La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park (trip report, menu, and menu review available at this link), we’ve figured out what works for us.

Some of my favourite books for backcountry meal prep are:

  • A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March (F)
  • LipSmackin’ Backpackin’ by Christine and Tim Conners (L)
  • The Trailside Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott (T)

Where we’re planning to use a recipe, you’ll see a (F), (L) or (T) after the recipe name (and the corresponding page number).

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Some meals are tried and true recipes, while others are new things we’re trying for the first time (such as “Thanksgiving on the Trail”). You might have noticed that we’re not really “cooking” very much. For the majority of our meals we’ll be boiling water to add to things (such as oatmeal) or to rehydrate things (such as chili). We will be baking cornbread and bannock, as well as eggs and bacon. Designing our menu as we have means faster meal prep, and less fuel required.

Between now and our trip departure, we’ll be slicing, chopping, cooking, baking and dehydrating our meals! Cheryl and I have split the food up so that we each prepare approximately half. We’ll keep everything in the freezer until departure day, when we drive more than 850 km north! The first night we’ll car camp at Agawa Bay, and then start our big hike the next morning after a shuttle to our starting point.

You can bet I’ll be blogging about our trip, including a full trip report, menu review, and packing list. Stay tuned!

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Menu for 4-day early May hike of Western Uplands Trail at Algonquin Provincial Park

One thing I love about planning for a backpacking trip is planning the food! My friend Cheryl and I decided on a menu for this trip, then split up who would prepare what. We cooked, baked, dehydrated and then froze everything. Finally, Cheryl brought her food to my house, where I verified that it was all there, and organized it all into Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Our trips always start after lunch, so we pack all our food away in our bear bag except for our afternoon snack on Day 1.

For breakfast, we boil 2 L of water, using it for tea/coffee and hot cereal, and the remainder, if any, for warming up the little bit of dish water we use in our pot.

For lunches, we always have no-cook meals.

For dinners, we sometimes bake fresh bread like bannock or corn bread, or cook something like eggs, but otherwise we usually just boil water to add to something like pasta or soup.

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Food ready to go!

This trip though, we didn’t exactly follow our menu! What started out as a 4-day backpacking trip turned into a 3-day trip because of the cold and wet conditions. You can read the trip report here. Below you will find our planned menu, and then what we actually ate!

Planned menu for 4-days for 2 people

Day 1

Afternoon snack: trail mix

Dinner: spinach quinoa soup with bannock

Evening snack: dehydrated fruit and chocolate

Day 2

Breakfast: oatmeal with dried fruit + tea/coffee + gatorade

Morning snack: pizza gorp

Lunch: leftover bannock from Day 1 dinner with cheese, nuts, jerky, dried fruit

Afternoon snack: harvest oat squares

Dinner: pasta Alfredo with bacon, veggies, parmesan

Evening snack: dehydrated fruit and chocolate

Day 3

Breakfast: granola + tea/coffee + gatorade

Morning snack: trail mix

Lunch: apple peanut salad wrap

Afternoon snack: energy squares

Dinner: egg wraps with bacon, veggies, salsa

Evening snack: dehydrated fruit and chocolate

Day 4

Breakfast: strawberry peach muesli + tea/coffee + gatorade

Morning snack: harvest oat squares

Lunch: tomato flatbread, hummus and cheese

Afternoon snack: pizza gorp

 

Drinks

gatorade

tea and coffee

hot chocolate

Actual menu for 3-days for 2 people

Day 1

All meals as planned + hot chocolate before dinner

Day 2

Breakfast as planned

Morning snack as planned

Lunch as planned

Dinner (at this point, we decided that we didn’t want to spend any more time outside in the freezing cold under a tarp in the pouring rain to cook our dinner): wraps with dehydrated veggies and dehydrated salsa (not rehydrated – a little hard to eat!)

Evening snack: harvest oat squares

On Day 2, we organized all our food into stuff we would eat, and stuff that would require cooking and we would bring home.

Day 3

Breakfast (knowing that we had to hike 20 km to cut our trip short by a day and get back to our vehicle, we opted for an early start and a no-cook breakfast): Day 4 harvest oat squares + gatorade

Morning snack: Day 2 evening snack dehydrated fruit and chocolate + Day 3 morning snack trail mix + Day 4 afternoon snack pizza gorp

Lunch: Day 4 Tomato flatbread and cheese (no hummus) + gatorade

Afternoon snack as planned

Dinner: Day 3 apple peanut salad wrap

Leftover food

Day 2 pasta Alfredo with bacon, veggies, parmesan

Day 3 granola

Day 3 egg from wraps

Day 4 strawberry peach muesli

Day 4 hummus

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Flatbread in the Dehydrator: Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, and a Bit of Experimentation

After eating some delicious tomato flatbread that my friend Cheryl made in her dehydrator for our fall canoe trip, I decided to experiment and make some of my own.

Rather than follow any recipes, I chose to just throw together a little of this and a little of that.

Here’s what I did for each kind of flatbread:

  1. Measure ingredients.
  2. Put all ingredients in food processor.
  3. Blend until well mixed.
  4. Pour/dump semi-solid mix onto parchment paper on counter.
  5. Form into a ball.
  6. Roll out with rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Place flatbread on parchment paper on dehydrator tray OR cut flatbread into small squares or rectangles and then place on dehydrator tray.
  8. For flatbreads that were too wet and couldn’t be rolled out with the rolling pin, I used the back of a spoon to flatten them to about 1/4 inch thick, then put them on the dehydrator tray. I was not able to cut the wetter ones into squares or rectangles. However, they could be cut after they had been drying for a while.
  9. Dehydrate at 125 degrees Fahrenheit (on my Excalibur 9-tray, this is the vegetable setting) for 10-15 hours. I took mine out after 12 hours, but then put the sesame seed ones back in for another couple of hours.

Note: for the two sesame seed flatbreads, I didn’t use the food processor, just a big bowl. Here are pictures of the sesame seed flatbread being made:

I made 6 different flatbreads, some more tasty than others!

Sun-dried Tomato Almond

  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

This was my favourite one. It turned out crisp and very flavourful! It held its shape and could hold hummus without crumbling. I had cut it into pieces before dehydrating. This one was very successful.

Results:

  • Flavour: 5/5
  • Texture: 5/5

 Pesto Mushroom Sunflower Seed

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons pesto
  • ½ cup ground flax

This one was good, but the pesto flavour was a little overpowering. I would cut back on the pesto by 1 tablespoon next time.

Results:

  • Flavour: 3/5
  • Texture: 5/5

Zucchini Carrot

  • 1 ¼ cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup ground almond
  • ½ teaspoon salt

This one was the wettest of them all. It dried well though, and tastes good! Very crisp.

Results:

  • Flavour: 5/5
  • Texture: 5/5

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Zucchini Carrot.

Corn Pepper

  • 1 cup diced red pepper
  • 1 small can corn
  • 2 green onions
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

I tasted this one before putting it in the dehydrator, and found the onion a bit too much. Hence the addition of the sugar to try to offset it. In the end, I find that the corn flavour overpowers the rest. I think I’d prefer it with more red pepper and sunflower seeds and less corn.

Results:

  • Flavour: 3/5
  • Texture: 5/5

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In the dehydrator.

Sesame Seed*

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • few tablespoons of water to be able to form mix into a ball

 * Modified from a Martha Stewart recipe here. I have previously made these as directed in the oven several times, and they turned out fantastic. 

While I dehydrated the sesame seed flatbreads longer than the rest, they probably could have used another few hours. They were solid enough that they could be picked up, but they are more fragile than the others. These had flour in them while the others didn’t, as well as olive oil. They were very tasty, but I prefer them made in the oven. I will try them again in the dehydrator to see if I can get them crisper.

Results:

  • Flavour: 5/5
  • Texture: 3/5

Sesame Seed with Black Pepper and Olives

  • Same as for Sesame Seed above plus 1 tablespoon black pepper and 1/3 cup chopped olives

Results:

  • Flavour: 5/5
  • Texture: 3/5

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Clockwise starting from the top left: Sesame Seed, Carrot Zucchini Almond, Sesame Seed Black Pepper Olive, Pesto Mushroom Sunflower Seed, Corn Red Pepper Sunflower Seed. In the middle: Sun-dried Tomato Almond

I will definitely continue to experiment with other flatbreads in my dehydrator – I’ll look up some recipes and also create more of my own. If you have favourite recipes, please share! I love taking flatbread on backcountry camping trips, with dehydrated hummus and vegetables to go with it! Yum.

 

Perfecting dehydrated chicken

Have you ever bitten into a piece of overly chewy rehydrated dehydrated chicken and thought, “There has to be a better way!”? Or have you been thinking about dehydrating chicken but weren’t sure how to do it? This post is for you!

A few years ago on a camping trip I ate a very disappointing chicken couscous meal with really tough rehydrated diced chicken. It was a meal that I had prepared.  After that failure I gave up dehydrating chicken – until recently. I had read online that canned chicken dehydrated and rehydrated well, so when my daughter asked for chicken noodle soup for our fall mother-daughter canoe trip, I decided to try it. I added it to the noodle/veggie mix, and the texture was perfect. I thought I’d do an experiment to see which kind of chicken and size/shape resulted in the best texture. In other words, I set out to perfect the dehydration of chicken!

I experimented with baked chicken breast, canned chicken, and thinly sliced chicken sandwich meat from the deli counter. With the chicken breast, I put some in the food processor, some I shredded with my grater, some I diced into small pieces, some I cut into larger pieces, and some I cut into thin strips. With the canned chicken, I sliced some thinly and the rest I broke into tiny bits. With the sandwich meat, I sliced one piece into thin strips and left two slices as is.

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BEFORE DEHYDRATING — TOP ROW left to right: chicken breast grated, chicken breast food processor, sliced sandwich meat, sandwich meat, chicken breast big chunks BOTTOM ROW left to right: canned sliced, canned tiny bits, chicken breast diced, chicken breast sliced thinly.

I used my Excalibur 9-tray to dehydrate the chicken, using the meat setting of 155 degrees Fahrenheit. I took the various trays out at different times, as the chicken dried.

Here is a list of the weight of the chicken before (B) and after (A) dehydration, the percentage of weight lost and the length of time I had each kind in the dehydrator:

  • chicken breast grated: 39g (B), 12g (A), 69%, 5 hours
  • chicken breast food processor: ?g (B), 30g (A), unknown %, 5 hours
  • chicken breast sliced thinly: 35g (B), 10g (A), 71%, 6 hours
  • chicken breast diced: 66g (B), 20g (A), 70%, 8 hours (could probably have used longer, but I had to go out)
  • chicken breast larger chunks: 64g (B), 24g (A),  62.5%, 8 hours (could probably have used longer, but I had to go out)
  • canned chicken small bits: 36g (B), 9g (A), 75%, 5 hours
  • canned chicken sliced thinly: 78g (B), 16g (A), 79.5%, 5 hours
  • sandwich meat: 44g (B), 11g (A), 75%, 4 hours
  • sandwich meat sliced thinly into strips: 19g (B), 5g (A), 74%, 4 hours

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AFTER DEHYDRATING —  TOP ROW left to right: chicken breast grated, chicken breast food processor, sliced sandwich meat, sandwich meat, chicken breast big chunks BOTTOM ROW left to right: canned sliced, canned tiny bits, chicken breast diced, chicken breast sliced thinly.

After everything was dried, I packaged it into ziploc bags and left it overnight.

 

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All the dehydrated chicken.

The next day was taste test day! I boiled water, and poured enough over each dish to more than cover the chicken. In fact, there was probably twice as much water as necessary in each dish. I covered each dish with plastic wrap, and left them for 15 minutes.

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Water added to each dish. TOP ROW left to right: chicken breast grated, chicken breast small diced, canned small bits, chicken breast big chunks BOTTOM row left to right: chicken breast food processor, chicken breast sliced thinly, canned sliced thinly, sandwich meat.

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Rehydrating chicken under plastic wrap.

Next it was time to taste each kind of chicken. Here are my thoughts on each one:

  • chicken breast grated: good texture, not chewy
  • chicken breast food processor: good texture, very slightly chewy
  • chicken breast sliced thinly: bigger/thicker pieces chewy, smaller/thinner pieces good texture
  • chicken breast diced: very chewy, edible
  • chicken breast larger chunks: inedible
  • canned chicken small bits: great texture
  • canned chicken sliced thinly: great texture, softest
  • sandwich meat: a little rubbery, but could actually make a sandwich – I think!
  • sandwich meat sliced thinly into strips: a little rubbery

While I had removed a small amount from each dish, I left the chicken rehydrating for another 15 minutes, so that after a total of 30 minutes I could taste test it again. I didn’t notice a difference in the chicken compared to the first testing. I could have left the chicken even longer, but I don’t think the diced chicken or big chunks would have gotten any better – and eventually, leaving meat out long enough may result in nasty stuff growing on it.

So the winners are canned chicken (broken into little bits or sliced), or chicken breast grated or in the food processor. The texture of the canned chicken was definitely the best – it was soft, and not at all chewy. The grated chicken and chicken in the food processor were very similar. I likely could have crumbled the chicken from the food processor part way through drying and it would not have been chewy at all – just a guess.

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Starting from the sandwich meat (tip of the pencil and going clockwise): sandwich meat, chicken breast grated, chicken breast food processor, chicken breast diced, chicken breast sliced thinly, canned small bits, canned thinly sliced, chicken breast big chunks.

In future I will not hesitate to dehydrate chicken! Have you dehydrated chicken successfully? Do you have a favourite backcountry meal with dehydrated chicken?

For more backcountry food preparation tips, look here.

How to dehydrate eggs for use in the backcountry

Wondering how to include eggs in your next backcountry adventure without bringing fresh eggs (or a hen!) with you, or buying dehydrated eggs? If you’ve got a dehydrator, you can easily make your own. I’ve seen lots of questions recently from people wondering how to dehydrate eggs, so I decided to explain the simple method I use here.

Dehydrating eggs

Step #1: Crack as many eggs as you’d like, whip them with a fork, and pour them into a hot greased frying pan. Step #2: As the eggs are cooking, scramble them over and over with a wooden spoon, so that once you’re done, you have small(ish) bits of egg. Step #3: Blend the scrambled eggs in the food processor for just a few seconds to get the egg into smaller bits. Step #4: Spread the egg onto dehydrator trays, either with parchment or sheets specifically made for dehydrators. Turn dehydrator on, and use the highest heat setting (155 degrees Fahrenheit in my Excalibur 9-tray).
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Eggs ready to put into the dehydrator.
Step #5: After 2 1/2 hours, throw the eggs back into the food processor for 30 seconds to 1 minute to break them up more. Step #6: Put them back in the dehydrator on the highest heat setting.
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Eggs after 2 1/2 hours of drying at 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
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After 2 1/2 hours of drying and another spin in the food processor.
Step #7: After a total of 3 1/2 to 4 hours, your eggs may be dry. Always follow the settings and instructions for your own dehydrator, and if you don’t think the eggs are done, leave them in longer! Once they are finished, remove them from the dehydrator, and using a mortar and pestle or 2 glass dishes, grind the eggs into a finer texture.
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Using a glass dish to break the eggs into smaller bits.
I have purchased dehydrated eggs before, which are a powdery consistency. I’ve never been able to reproduce that super fine texture, but the eggs I prepare work for me!
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Store-bought egg powder on the left, homemade dehydrated eggs on the right.
Weight of 4 eggs after scrambling but before dehydrating: 170g Weight of 4 eggs after dehydrating: 45g Your eggs are ready for your next backcountry adventure! I store mine in the freezer until I need them.

Rehydrating the eggs

You can rehydrate them with water to make scrambled eggs or an omelet, or put into a tortilla with veggies, cheese and salsa for an egg wrap. You can add them to other ingredients to cook pancakes on the trail, or to bake brownies. The possibilities are endless. One egg = approximately 1-2 tablespoons* of dehydrated eggs + 1 tablespoon of water. Let it rehydrate for 5-10 minutes, then use it however you like. *My 4 eggs turned into 6 tablespoons of dehydrated egg. It all depends on the size of the eggs you start with!
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Delicious egg/veggie wrap!
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Egg bagel sandwich!
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Menu review: 8-day, 90k hiking trip along the entire length of the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, Killarney Provincial Park

In March I posted the menu for my upcoming 8-day hiking trip at Killarney Provincial Park. My friend Cheryl and I planned to hike the entire La Cloche Silhouette Trail, and prepared all of our food months in advance. For us the food is an important part of the trip! We enjoy getting together to plan out the menu, and to decide who is going to bring what. Then it’s time to buy what we need, prepare it, get it all together, sort it into meals/days, and put it in the freezer until our trip! The original post I did on the menu drew lots of feedback. Many people were interested in how it all worked out. I can now tell you that it worked out great!! At the last minute, Cheryl added 6 or 8 instant coffee packets, as well as 8 electrolyte tablets to add to her water bladder.
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One of many delicious snacks.
Day 1: We both started our hike with a granola bar in our pocket, one that wasn’t part of our original menu! Consequently, we didn’t eat our bedtime snack. We started a bag of “leftover food”. Day 2:  At lunch, we only ate a few of the nuts, as we had enough food without them. We put the nuts into our leftover food bag. We also had a very small amount of bannock left over from lunch (31g, weighed at home), which went into the same bag. That night, my stomach was a little “off”, but Cheryl ate about 1/4 of the 1st night’s bedtime snack. We put day 2’s bedtime snack with the leftovers. Day 3: We both felt that there was too much oatmeal for breakfast, but later on we were happy to have eaten it all. We had a tiny bit of cornbread left over at lunch (36g), but ate everything else as planned.
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I forgot to pack dehydrated veggies for this one, which we both felt would have made dinner better! It was the only thing we forgot to pack!
Day 4: Everything eaten as planned. Day 5:  Everything eaten as planned. Poached leftover chocolate treat from a bedtime snack to make “specialty coffee”. Day 6: Everything eaten as planned. I had my first night’s bedtime snack as well. Poached leftover chocolate treat from a bedtime snack to make “specialty coffee”. Day 7: Everything eaten as planned. Poached leftover chocolate treat from a bedtime snack to make “specialty coffee”.
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One of 7 delicious bedtime snacks!
Day 8: Added leftover fruit from bedtime snack to apple crisp at breakfast. We arrived at our vehicle with our afternoon snack not yet eaten. We did, however, eat them on the way home! So in the end, the only thing we didn’t eat was the nuts from lunch on day 2, and Cheryl’s lunchtime gatorade from day 8. We did wonder, however, whether we should have packed a meal or two extra, in case we were delayed for any reason and had to spend another night. Do you pack extra meals? Finally, we used about 6 L of water per day, a combination of water that we drank in our water bladders, water used to make gatorade, tea and coffee, and water used to rehydrate or cook our food. With the exception of cooking eggs twice and baking bannock and cornmeal once each, all of our meal preparation involved simply boiling water. We estimated that we used approximately 597 ml of white gas in our MSR Dragonfly stove. We were happy with all of our meals and snacks! There wasn’t a single one that we wouldn’t want to have again. A few of my favourites were our day 4 dinner (pasta hit the spot!), our day 7 breakfast (apricot granola) and our pizza gorp! Yum! Related posts: Follow me on Facebook: Kyra on the Go: Adventures of a Paddling Triathlete Follow me on Twitter: @kyraonthego Follow me on Instagram: @kyraonthego

Trip planning: Menu planning for an 8-day spring hike along the La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park

Are you looking for new ideas for things to eat while backcountry camping? Take a peek at my menu for an upcoming 8-day hike along the entire length of the La Cloche Silhouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park. I’ll be going in early May with my friend Cheryl.

We’ve done two 4-day hiking trips at Killarney now, the first time hiking 2 days in counterclockwise, then hiking back out, and the second time hiking 2 days in clockwise, then hiking back out. It was on that second trip that we realized we need more food when hiking compared to what we need for canoe trips! On a canoe trip to Killarney, we paddled from our campsite to the trail and hiked to Silver Peak (and saw a bear). What a beautiful park.

For our last couple of hiking trips, including last fall’s 38.6 km hike along the Highland Trail at Algonquin Provincial Park, staying at Faya, Harness, and Provoking Lake East, and this February’s 4-day snowshoe adventure again along the Highland Trail, we’ve been able to estimate very well our energy needs! We’ve arrived back at our vehicle with only our last day’s lunch and afternoon snack. So, we are confident that the amount of food we’ve packed will be just right – however, I’ll be reporting back in May after the trip!

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Dehydrating a variety of fruits and vegetables (top to bottom: pear, red pepper, carrot, zucchini, sweet potato, kiwi).

Cheryl and I got together a few months ago to plan this trip, setting out our menu and dividing up who would prepare what. All of our food was assembled at home meal by meal, and labelled with instructions if needed (e.g. add 1 1/4 cups of boiling water). We packed lots of our favourite meals, but are also trying some new things this time!

Given that we will be carrying 7 days worth of food on our backs, we wanted to pack nutrient dense food that didn’t weigh a ton (it’s an 8-day trip but we’re not carrying the 1st day’s breakfast, morning snack or lunch, or the 8th day’s dinner and evening snack).

We each used our Excalibur 9-tray dehydrators to remove as much weight as possible and keep things fresh on the trail. Where normally we may have used skim milk powder, we used whole milk powder instead to have extra calories for the same weight. I added coconut oil to some things, more cheese and bacon than I might usually, etc. However, we’re not willing to eat bars for every meal, or pre-packaged store-bought meals. We want to eat real food, healthy food, and a variety of things! All told, our food weighs 23.6 pounds.

The recipes we used come from the following books:

  • Backpacker Backcountry Cooking by Dorcas Miller (B)
  • A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March (F)
  • LipSmackin’ Backpackin’ by Christine and Tim Conners (L)
  • The Trailside Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott (T)

Where a recipe was followed, you’ll see a (B), (F), (L) or (T) after the recipe name.  The weight of each meal is also included in brackets.

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All of our food ready to go! There’s a column for each day, with day 1 on the far left, and day 8 on the far right. Breakfast for each day is up high, and the evening snack down low.

Day 1: 

Breakfast: at home

Morning snack: in car en route

Lunch: picnic lunch en route

Afternoon snack: peanut crisp (T) (151g)

Dinner: quinoa spinach soup and bannock, including bannock for lunch the next day (F) (502g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (e.g. dehydrated banana + mini turtles) (97g)

Day 2: 

Breakfast: strawberry peach muesli (F) (277g)

Morning snack: honey mustard gorp (F) (142g)

Lunch: bannock from night before, cheese, nuts and dehydrated fruit (276g)

Afternoon snack: peanut butter chocolate squares (117g)

Dinner: minestrone soup and cornbread, including corn bread for lunch the next day (F) (569g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (88g)

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Food for day 2.

 

Day 3:

Breakfast: oatmeal with nuts and dehydrated fruit (344g)

Morning snack: trail mix (144g)

Lunch: corn bread from the night before, pepperettes and cheese sticks (168g)

Afternoon snack: beef jerky and applesauce (115g)

Dinner: huevos rancheros (F) (237g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (83g)

Day 4: 

Breakfast: apricot/pecan cream cereal and dehydrated fruit (B) (518g)

Morning snack: quick energy bar (T) (130g)

Lunch: hummus, dehydrated veggies, naan bread (374g)

Afternoon snack: beef jerky and applesauce (117g)

Dinner: pasta with tomato sauce, dehydrated veggies and parmesan (280g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (71g)

Day 5: 

Breakfast: Canadian maple blueberry granola (F) (287g)

Morning snack: pizza gorp (F) (140g)

Lunch: peanut butter, dehydrated apple, sunflower seed, blueberry tortilla wraps (369g)

Afternoon snack: peanut butter chocolate squares (121g)

Dinner: chili and mini pitas with parmesan (324g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (92g)

 

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Big river apricot granola.

Day 6: 

Breakfast: maple pecan couscous and dehydrated fruit (F) (290g)

Morning snack: quick energy bars (T) (117g)

Lunch: black bean dip, veggies and bread (278g)

Afternoon snack: honey mustard gorp (F) (140g)

Dinner: egg, bacon, cheese, and dehydrated veggie wraps (T) (302g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (85g)

Day 7: 

Breakfast: big river apricot granola and dehydrated fruit (L) (380g)

Morning snack: peanut crisp (T) (155g)

Lunch: tomato and toasted almond spread (B), cheese, pitas, dehydrated veggies (276g)

Afternoon snack: trail mix (148g)

Dinner: pasta alfredo with dehydrated veggies, bacon bits, parmesan cheese (277g)

Evening snack: dried fruit and chocolate treat (95g)

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1 ziploc for each day’s food (except for 2 days, which required 2 bags)

Day 8: 

Breakfast: apple crisp (190g)

Morning snack: pizza gorp (F) (139g)

Lunch: carrot raisin peanut salad (F) (416g)

Afternoon snack: trail mix (164g)

Dinner: on drive home

In addition to the above, we packed gatorade to have at breakfast and lunch (516g), tea and whole milk powder for breakfast and 2 mugs of hot chocolate for each of us over the 8 days (325g).

Sometime soon, I’ll take all the bags out of the freezer, open every ziploc bag and make sure I squeeze out as much air as possible so we can actually fit all this in our packs! And speaking of ziploc bags, a concerned facebook reader noted (when I posted a picture of all our food) that we were using an awful lot of plastic bags, and that we should try to find an alternative. I agree. While we do use some of them to store our garbage during our trip, the vast majority are brought home. Some are thrown out (e.g. greasy ones) and some are washed to be re-used. But that’s a lot of water and soap to clean them. In any case, I did a quick google search and found this idea – wrapping food with wax paper using masking tape and a stapler. I will definitely consider doing this to cut down on the amount of plastic. Thanks Michelle D S for raising the plastic issue!

After the trip, I’ll do another blog post on the food, noting how far we hiked each day, whether we had the right amount, too little, too much, what we loved, what we wouldn’t make again, what we forgot to pack (hopefully nothing, unlike one particular canoe trip at Algonquin or another trip where someone forgot to pack utensils!!), etc.

Stay tuned!!

UPDATED May 2016: Menu review here.

 

Homemade beef jerky – backpacking snack or expensive cat treat?

This spring’s late ice-out means that my planned early spring canoe trip to The Massassauga Provincial Park has turned into a backpacking trip (on an as-yet-to-be-determined trail, depending on flood conditions), and a need for one more snack per day (Cheryl and I learned while hiking the La Cloche Silouette Trail at Killarney Provincial Park that backpacking – at least on that trail – necessitates a higher daily caloric intake than a canoe trip)!

So, I decided to make beef jerky! I’ve eaten it before, but never made it, so this was to be an experiment. Either it would turn out great and we’d take it backpacking, or the kitties would get a very special treat.

So, I started with flank steak. I froze this piece for about 5 hours to make it easier to slice.

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I only used half of this for the beef jerky. If no one liked it, I didn’t want to have a huge amount of it and waste $15 worth of meat.

I trimmed fat where possible (fat doesn’t dry, and it makes the beef jerky spoil sooner), and then I sliced it as thinly as I could.

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Fat trimmed away

I put the beef slices into a pyrex dish and covered them with President’s Choice Gourmet Original Barbecue Sauce (about 250 ml). I mixed it all up, then dumped the beef into a container, put a lid on it and stuck it in the fridge! I let it marinate for more than 24 hours, and then put the slices onto the dehydrator trays.

I used the meat setting of my Excalibur 2900 series 9-tray dehydrator, which is set at 155 degrees Fahrenheit or 68 degrees Celsius. I filled 4 trays, spacing the beef out so as to maximize air flow. I left the empty trays out of the machine. I had read that I should use non-stick spray on the trays, but wasn’t sure about that so didn’t bother.

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Ready to go into the dehydrator

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Ready for dehydrating.

After about 4 hours, I checked the meat and it may have been done, but I wasn’t sure, so I left it longer. It was nearly at the 6 hour mark when I preheated the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, then transferred the meat from the trays onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to peel the meat off the trays.

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What it looked like after 6 hours of drying.

Why the oven step? I read on a website from the University of Wisconsin that to safely make beef jerky at home, one should heat it for 10 minutes in an oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit after 4-6 hours of dehydration.

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All done!

So, after all that? Was it any good? Here’s what the first 3 taste testers said:

“It’s pretty good, but when you have too much of it, the yumminess wears off.” – Ailish

“I like the meat part of it, but I don’t like barbecue sauce.” – Keaghan

“I’ll probably like it if I try it because anything Kyra makes is usually amazing.” – Alasdair, as suggested by Ailish.

And me? I love it. It’s sweet, very sweet. But yum!

Cheryl, you can give your verdict shortly.