What do you dehydrate?

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    rick .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Charlotte, NC

    As I listen to the hum, and smell some fresh drying jerky, I'm wondering what you all like to dehydrate.

    Meals? There's a whole lot of bull in prepackaged food, I'd rather make up something fresh to take, with knowing how to spell each ingredient. Also itching to cut my food budget, idahoan potatoes aside, trail-ready foods can be as expensive as eating at home, especially at the calorie level needed to keep energy high.

    So far I've done a few fruits, apples are my go-to, but kiwi comes out like candy, pear is tasty but shrinks a bit too much to be worth it for me. And the obligatory couple rounds of jerky. I found some cheap dried banana, kiwi and cranberry deals around (asian grocery rocks) so I'll stick mostly to the apples on the fruit end.

    I'm sure there are threads upon threads of this, but I went back a few pages without finding many ideas.

    Bob Gross
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    I dehydrate many different kinds of fruit. The secret has to do with slicing thickness. If you can get the thickness very consistent, you can get very predictable results. Fruits with skins often need to be deskinned first.

    One exception to this would be Santa Rosa plums. I halve, then halve again, then halve again. This gives me plum chunks. I throw those in the dehydrator and get them started, and then sprinkle some sugar over the chunks as the plum juice starts to emerge. This makes "backpacker plum candies."


    Susan D
    BPL Member


    Locale: montana

    When I first found BPL a couple years ago, I spent a long time reading old threads for information on dehydrating. If you go back for several years, there is a lot of info, but it does take time to go through it all (well worth it, though).

    There are a couple members that have websites with excellent recipes and books for sale (sarah at, for one, and also a Laurie who might not post anymore – don't know her website offhand).

    Being a veggie and needing relatively healthy and cheap food for a multiple month road trip in 2012, I ended up dehydrating a variety of stuff that I regularly eat. Most turned out OK (definitely not all, though). I made soup as thick as possible and piled it on parchment paper to dehydrate. Mushroom barley, various bean and vegetable soups, even carrot soup (didn't rehydrate well for some reason). One mistake I made with soups and stews was cutting potatoes too large (took a long time to dehydrate and rehydrate). Made stews (lots of lentil variations) and veggie chilies same way (overly thick, to aid in dehydration – only way to layer it thickly on parchment paper).

    I also dehydrated lots of refried beans, and hummus, and tomato sauces for pasta. Cooked then dehydrated pasta and quinoa and various sorts of rice. Dehydrated frozen vegetables and fresh, blanched vegetables. Fruits too. Heaps of tomatoes from the garden. Cans of beans of all types. Salsa.

    I went a bit overboard, actually, and a year and a half later still have enough to feed a family of four for months, maybe years…

    I'd recommend reading old threads for a while, and then just experimenting. (Of course, if you are wanting to dehydrate food with meat in it, I think you have to be more careful about temperature and moisture levels and whatnot.)

    Glenn S


    Locale: Snowhere, MN

    Of course apples is the first thing to come to mind. My 24 year old always asks; "did you put cinnamon on them this time?". He loves the cinnamon apples lol. Homemade trail mix is always a winner. Bananas are good and chewy, even if they are a bit brown. If you dry pineapples, never use canned!

    My ol' K'mart special drier finally died, and I got a brand spankin' new Excalibur for Christmas this year! Yeh! Go me!

    So I ordered the silicon sheets and did up a batch of spaghetti and it was awesome! Then I tried some Chicken Alfredo, using canned chicken. Not bad, but it seemed to leak through the silicon and turned out rather greasy. Bleh.

    Next up is some yogurt roll-ups. This ought to be interesting. Always looking for one-pot meals to dry. Will be watching!

    Sarah Kirkconnell
    BPL Member


    Locale: Homesteading On An Island In The PNW

    Hah! It is so easy to go crazy! I store my dried basics in mason jars and give them a shake every month or so, and they stay fine a year or two out :-D My garden produced well!

    Dena Kelley
    BPL Member


    Locale: Eagle River, Alaska

    Primarily beef jerky, for a few reasons. One, to avoid the MSG that is in most brands. Two, because I think my home recipe tastes better than every brand of beef jerky I've ever had. And three because I like my jerky completely dehydrated. As in, crunchy. It stores for a long time that way, and I can still toss it in soups and what-not to rehydrate. But I'm weird in that I like crunchy jerky if I'm just munching on it.

    Heather Hohnholz
    BPL Member


    I'll chime in with previous commentors and say that I've dehydrated lots of things-I just thought about what I like to eat, and dehydrated the elements. One of the things I'm most proud of is I bought a big tub of Thai Red Curry Paste (Mae Ploy brand, available at most asian groceries), and dehydrated it. I mix it with coconut cream powder, FD sausage from Honeyville, and dehydrated cooked rice, and voila-Instant curry! Also spaghetti squash, spaghetti sauce, FD sausage and a little baggie of parmesan and I have spaghetti. I've dehydrated lots of different fruits, zucchini noodles, bell peppers, herbs, mushrooms, mashed sweet potatoes, bacon (very messy, but delicious when done), hamburger…..For the most part, you can dehydrate just about anything. I am partial to dehydrating a lot of different "elements" that I can combine in various combinations for meals.

    Gary Dunckel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boulder

    I'm like Heather–I like to dehydrate all sorts of individual items that I can selectively add to whatever concoction I'm making at the time. Over the weekend it was 4 cans of diced green chiles. They dehydrated fast, rehydrate quickly, and they add yummy goodness to about every meal I make.

    But for a lot of items, I just buy from Harmony House (beans and fruit) and save my electricity. I also buy Mountain House #10 tins when has their sales–good source of FD meats and peas/green beans/corn (which get repackaged by vacuum sealing smaller portions).

    I usually do my dehydrating/vacuum sealing during Colorado's low-humidity winters when the temperatures drop down near zero degrees. The dehydrator helps keep the house warm, and there's very little humidity to sneak into the vac bags. My stuff seems to be very shelf stable in my cool basement for up to 3-4 years.

    Bob Shaver
    BPL Member


    Locale: West

    I dry a can of tomato paste, spread thin on saran wrap, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of tomato sauce. Once dried I combine them in baggies, put in a bag of FD sausage, little baggie of spices, and 2.3 oz angel hair pasta, and have wonderful spaghetti with tomato sauce.

    I used to be the QA manager at a dehydrating plant. We dried mostly apples, 100 tons a day. Also pears, peppers, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Many tons of each. We took the apple peels and cores, and pressed juice out of them, then vacuum dried the peels and cores, and ground them into flour.

    rick .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Charlotte, NC

    Thanks for the replies, some good ideas in here.

    I'm getting the sense that "dry separate, combine after" is the theme here. Though things like thick soup work as well.

    Looks like I'll be having a bunch of dehydrated lunches at work til I get things dialed in!

    Lindsey Sommer


    Oh I can answer this one! I'm a vegan and heavily utilize my dehydrator for all kinds of things before I get one the trail. Here are a few of my favorite things lately:

    – Zucchini with all kinds of things on them. We've gotten into making raw vegan snacks lately, and have been doing a combination of thinly sliced zucchini with raw onion (better than it sounds) and soaked/rinsed/blended cashews (kind of a sour cream and onion vibe).
    -I'm currently obsessed with dehydrating cooked and mashed sweet potatoes with onions (caramelized and mixed into the sweet potato with a food processor). It's super good, and I just stick it into a jar with some water earlier in the day and let it rehydrate.
    -Sweet potato chips with salt and spices, thinly sliced.
    -Classic apple/banana/peach combination (donut peaches are the best!)
    -Raw crackers: Pick up ANY raw vegan book (I like anything by Matthew Kinney) and there will be awesome recipes for raw vegan crackers that are made in the dehydrator. I had flax ones, raw corn chips, and sun dried tomato crackers during the summer and they were great (especially if you bring some powdered hummus).

    Valerie E


    Locale: Grand Canyon State

    Dena, You are NOT the only one who loves homemade crunchy jerky — it's the BEST!

    This year, I'm looking for something yogurt-y to dehydrate…


    A tip for cheaply dehydrating smaller and/or gooier piece is to take a piece of parchment paper that is the size of the tray, fold it multiple times and take a pin or knife and poke some holes in it. This stuff is fairly non stick having a silicone layer, and poking holes in same help to speed up the process a bit.

    d k
    BPL Member


    Meals, mostly vegetarian as I don't have to worry about spoiled meat if I don't fully dehydrate it, and also since we often hike with friends who are strictly vegetarian. We do batches of cooked brown rice, bulgur, couscous, or quinoa to accompany main dishes; and either cookbook meals or thrown-together things like black beans. Once when we were going away on vacation and needed to use up a jar of pasta sauce, I combined it with cooked noodles and dehydrated the whole batch – it was wonderful the next summer up in the mountains! You could try just dehydrating some of whatever is left over from dinner occasionally, and see how that works for you. Generally whatever it is should not be in too big a chunk (i.e. no big chunks of meat or veg, slices or 1/2" cubes are better), as it is harder for things to evenly dehydrate that way.

    Will Webster


    Indian spiced lentils with kale. I cook and dry them separately, and FBC them together. Great over minute brown rice or whole wheat couscous.

    Hummus: Home-made, grocery store, or from the gyro shop. Baba Ganoush, sadly, refuses to rehydrate.

    Zucchini jerky: In summer when we're up to our necks in zukes, I slice them into planks and grill with olive oil and a little salt & pepper. If there are leftovers I dry them. Great as a snack, or for spooning up rehydrated hummus.

    Kenda Willey


    We usually dehydrate stews, soups, casseroles–dishes that can be rehydrated in one pot over a campfire or stove. Most of my recipes come from The Hungry Hammock Hanger, a trail food aficionado who has a blog and lots of videos on youtube and iTunes. His recipes are hearty, meaty and usually pretty spicy (things like beef stroganoff, chili cheese soup etc.)–basically the way I eat at home. And they're intended to be dehydrated. I highly recommend his videos! Some of the recipes are more suitable for warmer weather, but I'd say the majority is for warming you up on a winter evening.

    Bob Gross
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    Since I dehydrate a lot of quinoa for backpacking use, I decided to put some numbers together.

    I purchase raw quinoa in a 16-ounce package which supposedly makes 11 servings of unknown size. I took the numbers off the nutrition label.

    Once it was cooked and then dehydrated, I had 4.4 cups of hard tan granules, and that weighed 14.2 ounces.

    On a per cup basis, this is 400 calories per cup, and it is about 15 grams of protein per cup.


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