Jan 19, 2010 at 9:36 pm #1254282
>> Bender <<Participant
I stumbled upon the Harmony House Backpacking Kit at REI and thought it looked great. Does anyone have experience with this? My Ramen noodles would be very happy to have company!Jan 20, 2010 at 6:28 am #1564470
Oh yes, plenty experience with it.
You will like it! You can also order online – some of their other kits are better buys. I like this kit as there are no doubles and you try more of everything:
The pouches might sound small but they have plenty of good stuff in them. (You only need 1 – 2 Tbsp of a dried veggie or bean per person, so it lasts!)
Most of their items do come back fast with rehydration. If you are making pasta or ramen, add the dried veggies in with your cold water and bring to a boil, then add the pasta. The veggies will be ready to eat.
A few items do take a long time to rehydrate: dried green beans, dried green peas and dried sweet corn. These 3 items you would do much better to use a freeze-dried version instead (of which they also sell some FD vegetables).
Otherwise, have fun! And get the beans – they rock!Jan 20, 2010 at 8:45 am #1564495
+1 on everything Sarah said. I started out with the Backpacker Kit from REI 2 years ago, became sold immediately, and I now buy their stuff in bulk. I even eat this stuff at home (no, I'm not a great cook), and it has a good shelf life (I vacuum seal one cup portions after I open the quart-sized jars). I've got a bean/veggie soup simmering in their crock pot at this very moment. The beans rehydrate quickly, as do most veggies. But remember what Sarah said–go with FD beans, corn, and peas instead of dehydrated. Check out HH's website. By the way, their FD fruits combine to make wonderful smoothies–just add some frozen yoghurt, fat free milk, and some crushed ice in the blender, and you're set.Jan 20, 2010 at 9:14 am #1564505
How does Harmony House stuff compare with packitgourmet.com? I've only tried the latter, and quite enjoyed it. I'd love to hear how the quality of HH compares.Jan 20, 2010 at 12:01 pm #1564545
IMO they are equally good from both companies. The advantage of Packit is you can get more of a selection of fun freeze dried items (such as meat, cheese and harder to find veggies like okra and really good sliced zucchini).
Harmony sells dried shallots that are soooo good I use them at home!
I also use the dried veggies at home – things like celery I never use enough fresh but the dried is awesome for stews/soups. I also buy the family sized jugs. The regular dried vegetables are fine on the shelf for a year.
The only warning I will give is this:
If you buy freeze dried fruit, once it is opened be sure to put a desiccant packet in it (packit sells them) as the fruit can absorb moisture fast in humid areas. The freeze dried vegetables don't have this issue so much.
Also, freeze dried edamame is really good!Jan 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm #1564546
Also, DO sign up for Harmony's email thing on their site. They often have deals where they send out codes! I just got an offer for 20% off everything! WOOOOO!Feb 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm #1571772
@jeepingetowahLocale: South Central
I went with the gourmet pack, even though this was my first time buying this type of food. I got it over a month ago. I was REALLY surprised at how much food there is. I eat it almost everyday for lunches with instant rice and my cozy in my ziploc 2 cup locking lid container at work. Throw in a pack of soup and sometimes canned meats, voila! Plus the TVP is pretty good, no substitute for meat though. But for sure, no doubt, this is a killer deal for the money.
BTW… onions and jalapenos are AWESOME! Definitely get your own and trying things is so cheap and easy, you wont feel BAD at all!Feb 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm #1573438
I was just sitting here putting together a two week meal plan from my Harmony House backpacker's kit and ran across this thread. This is my fourth year using them and it is my "must have" food for ultra-lightweight backpacking. I also have the pint sized containers in the kitchen, and the gallon sized in storage to keep a rotating stock. I use them regularly in every day cooking and experiment with backpacking recipes. Their selection is perfect for vegetarian hikers and the meat substitutes like "hammish bits" are very good. I also take olive oil, vegetable bouillon, and seasonings to put together a variety of meals.
Harmony House doesn't sell it, but I found a source for powdered soy milk, peanut butter, and cheddar cheese. That gives me more variety. I pack chia seeds which which soak up a large amount of water and are good for staying hydrated on the trail like the Aztec message runners did. Along with raisins, I find that Goji berries and sunflower seeds make a great trail mix. If I take some flax seed crackers made in my dehydrator at home, then I've got a perfect healthy snack with rehydrated peanut butter and fruit. If it doesn't have water in it, it's going to weigh less. I also supplement meals with wild greens and anything else edible I can find during when I hike. You have to know vegetation in the hiking area well if you're going to try that option.
Because dehydrated foods are inferior to fresh, I also sprout greens on long trips. I made small burlap bags that hang from my backpack for this purpose. A few tablespoons each of brocolli, mung, alfalfa, and watercress last for two weeks on the trail. I soak a half-teaspoon per day and have four bags going at any one time.
Yes, it's an acquired taste. >^;^Feb 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm #1573441
Does that Harmony House kit go with Vegemite? It's an acquired taste, also.
–B.G.–Feb 14, 2010 at 7:07 am #1573623
Dehydrated food can be just as healthy as fresh….I wouldn't consider it inferior. What you put in is what you will get – in other words, if a person use ripe fruit and veggies at their prime to dry, they have top notch dried fruit and veggies.
You don't lose much in nutritional stats with drying – outside of say the mouth feel and some texture (ie…the crisp crunch of fresh).Feb 14, 2010 at 8:16 am #1573637
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
I have the HH kit – good stuff, much better quality than my own attempts at dehydrating.
Nutrients are lost in boiling, into the water. Dehydrating just takes out the water. So it makes sense that you don't lose the "good stuff." I just don't like the texture sometimes.Feb 14, 2010 at 8:23 am #1573638
Maybe some of you know the answer to this. Why is commercial dehydrated food slightly better than home dehydrated food? I think that it is because the commercial dehydrators have better means of controling the dryness of the food. I think they are often better at consistent slicing thicknessess. This is just my theory from home dehydrating for 25 years.
–B.G.–Feb 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm #1573725
Defintely the uniformity that commercial companies have is a key – always the same size. The dehdyrators also dry food much faster and more uniformly.Feb 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm #1573737
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
"You don't lose much in nutritional stats with drying – outside of say the mouth feel and some texture (ie…the crisp crunch of fresh)."
The main exception being vitamins A, C, thiamine and riboflavin…However there is a difference between foods that are freeze-dried (harmony house) versus those that are heat-dehydrated at home. Freeze drying retains more vitamins than heat dehydrating.Feb 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm #1573810
Most of Harmony's are NOT freeze-dried. They do carry FD items (such as green beans and soybeans). Most of what they carry is dried.
From Harmony's website:
Q: Do dehydrated products lose their nutritional value in processing?
A: Nutritive value is of primary concern these days, and many customers want to know about the food value of dehydrated vegetables versus fresh vegetables. You will be pleased to know that the nutritional content of dehydrated vegetables is nearly identical to that of fresh! The slow, air drying process preserves the nutrition while evaporating the water. Thus, you are left with concentrated nutrition pound for pound versus fresh. In fact, of all the food processing techniques available, dehydrated products maintain more of their nutrition than their frozen or canned counterparts. You can enjoy the longer shelf-life of dehydrated products, the convenience, and the taste without sacrificing the nutrition!Feb 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm #1573812
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
I have to disagree with commercial dehydrated food tasting better than home dehydrated food… and I'd put any of my home-dried fare up against any of the top commercial foods.
If you want consistent slicing with home dried fare then a mandolin is a wonderful tool.Feb 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm #1573829
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
"I have to disagree with commercial dehydrated food tasting better than home dehydrated food… and I'd put any of my home-dried fare up against any of the top commercial foods."
Then again, I happen to think our home made fresh meals taste better than most restaurant meals, so it makes sense that the dried versions will also be pretty tasty.
No question, dried and freeze dried foods retain more vitamins than frozen, and fresh dried is better than stale 'fresh' foods from the grocery store. However there is some inevitable loss of vitamins as a result of the drying process (whichever process is used) compared to fresh, ripe produce, and this is especially true of the heat sensitive vitamins such as C and some Bs.Feb 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm #1573839
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
The answer to why commercial dehydrated food is better than MY dehydrated food is that I have a piece of junk dehydrator with warped trays and no temperature adjustment – it's the cheap Nesco Desert Blast model.
Someday, when I've squirreled away enough fun money, that might just change.Feb 14, 2010 at 6:53 pm #1573855
I use this ancient Snackmaster Jr. dehydrator.
When I load it up with four trays of fairly wet food like sliced pears, it is going to take 8-10 hours to finish to a chewy dryness. I thought that I would be smart, so I closed off most of the 12-14 air exhaust vent holes on top. Sure enough, that raised the internal temperature… to the point where the internal thermal (one-shot) fuse ruptured, which shuts it all down. I had to replace the thermal fuse with the correct part, and then it worked properly again. Now I am careful not to close off much of the exhaust vent. If I do sliced pears at too hot of a temperature, I end up with little hard pear candies. When my appetite suffers and I can't eat anything else, I can always eat dried pear chips.
–B.G.–Feb 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm #1573886
Lol..Lori, that model is one to avoid ;-) Hehheh! When I got my last dehydrator (a Le'quip) I passed my Nesco one (a better version though!) down to my friend Catzia. She was happy as it replaced the Desert Blast Model she had!Apr 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm #1730177
I am on the webpage right now (http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/Backpacking-Kit-18-ZIP-Pouches_p_1866.html) and can't seem to find the actual weight of the pouches themselves. That being said, and taking into consideration these veggies would be used with rice/noods, bouillon and oil; can anyone give me a rough idea of how many dinners this kit might do for one person? I find it odd that there's no indication of it's total weight… Any input would be appreciated I'm kind of on a time crunch.
Thanks!Apr 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm #1730190
John, I just weighed several of my empty pouches (without the labels)–they are all .20 oz each. When I did a huge bulk order a year ago, I asked if they would throw in 20+ of those bags, which are perfect for transporting the veggies–they seal well and are strong. As for how many servings each bag offers, it's probably 4-5 per bag. My normal serving is 3-4 TBS. But I usually mix several vegetables together. Each bag contains almost exactly one cup. So what's that, 16 TBS? The Backpacker's Kit is a great way to try out all their stuff, even though there are a couple items you might have no use for. For me, it was the cabbage. The peas suck too–take a long time to rehydrate. For my peas, green beans, and corn, I prefer freeze dried, as Sarah indicated.Apr 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm #1730202
On the bags – any perceived "extra" weight is a GOOD thing. The bags are well made and stand up to use.
I use many vegetables together often – a Tbsp here and there. Personally I buy the mid size hard containers instead. I use that much!Apr 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm #1730226
Ok, that was a little less than I thought they might be. I am prepared to order some FD peas, green beans and corn as y'all suggested. I suppose I may just choose a good few (or more) intuitively and order those in bulk as opposed to the whole set, which I may get at another time for the sake of experiment. Thanks a lot for the advice, much appreciated!
Happy trails!Apr 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm #1730239
PS: The http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/Deluxe-Sampler-30-ZIP-Pouches_p_1853.html is IMO a better deal than the Backpackers Kit. No duplicates!
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