Cold Soak food technique question
Jul 24, 2018 at 3:19 pm #3548222
So in an effort to reduce pack weight, ive considered going stoveless/no-cook. but I am planning an upcoming hike in the sierras where I might appreciate a hot meal. ive always wondered why stove tests looked at boil times, etc when the majority of foods do NOT need to be in boiling water?? why not cold soak and use a small amount of fuel to make it WARM and more pleasurable to eat?? if you boil you may end up waiting for it to cool anyway, wasted heat and wasted weight. although this is not no-cook, its a weight savings as I am just heating rather than boiling food and i carry less fuel. I currently use a cat can alchy stove.
ACJul 24, 2018 at 3:27 pm #3548223Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
So you’re willing to carry the extra water in your food instead of fuel. The ability to shut a stove off before a boil always exist.Jul 24, 2018 at 3:54 pm #3548228Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I could see how that might work.
Cold soak for an hour or whatever, then heat until warm.
That would require less fuel than if you bring water to boil then add food. Maybe use half as much fuel. Full boil would rehydrate faster than cold soak, but maybe that’s not an issue. Also, cold soak may not rehydrate as good.
But, to boil a cup of water takes maybe 1/4 ounce of alcohol? To just warm takes 1/8 ounce? So it saves 1/8 ounce per day. If you did a 4 day trip you’d save 1/2 ounce? You could substitute your own numbers. Weight savings will be trivial.
If you didn’t have to bring a stove at all it would save a little more. Especially if you were using a canister stove instead of alchy.Jul 24, 2018 at 4:59 pm #3548232
I do not own a canister stove so with the alchy stove is going to go until it stops. although I agree the weight savings might be trivial for a short trip, it could translate to more weight savings over a longer haul.
maybe I am slow at getting my camp situated, but if I add water when I get to camp, by the time I get my shelter setup, wash clothes/bath/other personal hygiene, treat water, etc I would think the food would soak enough so that a small amount of heat would speed up the process enough. alternatively, instead of cold soaking, you could just warm the water to speed the hydration. I wonder if anyone has experimented with this, i.e. how much time does boiled water save you vs warm water.Jul 24, 2018 at 6:20 pm #3548237Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
On the JMT my buddy and I used a single 3.9 oz bottle of isobutane for the whole 2 week trip for both of our diners. We cooked meals 3/4 of the nights, warming the water to steaming, then shutting off the stove and letting food soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
You can avoid the cook kit altogether and do a “warm soak” using a product like the GG Crotch Pot or simply a double ziploc bag. I’ve experimented with using a ziploc inside a thin foil pouch and it takes about 60 minutes for the food to become tolerably soft, wearing the bag near your lower abdomen while in camp. Would probably take less time while hiking and generating more body heat.Jul 24, 2018 at 6:32 pm #3548243Jon FongBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
Stove makers typically look at time to boil water as it is a consistent metric. When I test, I also use 2 cups of 70 F water that way I have a baseline to to compare different changes in stove designs. Additionally, 2 cups is what is typically used in a lot of freeze dried meal packages. It is expected that customers will modify fuel usage as they learn more about their system.
I cold soak a lot and it works well for me. One thing to keep in mind is “thicker” foods like chili. In those cases, it is time and energy efficient to steam bake your food. My 2 cents.Jul 24, 2018 at 7:13 pm #3548257Tipi WalterBPL Member
Boiling works good if you’re using questionable water—dip the pot in a creek and boil—kills stuff.
Boiling also help to disinfect a dirty pot from last night’s dinner. (I quit washing my dinner pot years ago—in the morning I just boil up tea in the thing and start the day)—Peppermint tea with a little bit of beans? No problem—all ends up in the cathole anyway.Jul 24, 2018 at 7:29 pm #3548259James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I am of the opposite opinion. Cold soaking takes far longer to hydrate dehydrated foods. For instance, an ounce of dried beef + two ounces of water should yield about 3oz of raw beef. But, cold soaking for two hours doesn’t quite do it. It typically takes three or four hours. If I boil the water with the beef in it, it will rehydrate in about 45 minutes in a cozy. This is just an example, of course.
Black beans and rice also take about the same amount of time, but unless you use precooked rice, the rice never fully cooks and can give you leg/body cramps as it draws moisture out of your body during digestion. Cramps are simply not worth it for the 5gm of fuel I would save. If I cook the same 6oz of beans and rice with two ounces of dried beef with 16oz of water, it will cook in 45min in a cozy and I didn’t need to carry the pound of water for 2-3 hours ahead of time. This comes close to applying to every meal on the trail, not just the rice dishes. I cannot say this is very scientific, but in general terms, I find that having the stove & fuel is actually a weight savings.
Then there is the overall water I normally boil in the morning/evenings. I make about 3 cups of Mud/Coffee(mocha) in the morning and have a cup of cocoa at night (usually with a shot of scotch.) Counting suppers, I use about 15gm of canister fuel per day. For that usage, I get back about 6 cups of water. Since I use a Steripen for other drinking water (about 3 quarts) I am drinking something more than a gallon of water per day. But, I only ever carry a maximum of 1 quart (or a liter.) I fill my platy at camp (evening,) and this is usually enough to fill my bottles the next morning. The Steripen weighs about 3-5/8oz including two weeks of batteries, OR, about. Carrying extra water, either in food or rehydrating food, is something I ALWAYS avoid. Water is heavy.
OK, so my water weight and food strategy are both outgrowths of UL philosophy. Boiled water lets me be far more comfortable at camp in any type of weather. I have a hot breakfast, coffee in the morning, and, a hot supper and a light hot drink at night. Boiled water lets me rehydrate food faster and stays warm enough to eat till it totally rehydrates (non-total rehydration can draw moisture from bodily sources to complete the process, in some cases -like rice- over a long duration.) It adds to my total water fulfillment over the course of a day with minimal fuel usage, in most cases reducing the load on my Steripen or filter. And, carrying a stove about pays for itself because of the reduced load on my drinking water, letting me carry less per day than I would otherwise (no water to carry.)
Weight, specifically water weight, is about a wash when it comes between an alky stove/canister stove/WG stove over the two week outing I mention. I generally bring a canister for about a week and an alky stove for three to four days.Jul 24, 2018 at 11:17 pm #3548286Greg MihalikBPL Member
“I do not own a canister stove so with the alchy stove is going to go until it stops. ”
Get a small piece of silicone matt, like the the kitchen-ware department. Cut out a circle twice the diameter of your stove. Use it as a snuffer. (Kudos to Zelph for that. ) Either cap the stove or rebottle the fuel.
We heat water till we get “tiny bubbles” and then snuff. 3/4 ounce per day for two people. Easy peasy.Jul 25, 2018 at 1:39 am #3548311Katherine .BPL Member
John Abela made that point awhile back that we bring a lot of water to boil that we really only need to bring to kinda warmish. I usually filter it all anyway, so I’m trying pay more attention to “just enough” water heating. In part so my son can have his cocoa sooner.
But was that a question or a point?Jul 25, 2018 at 2:26 am #3548318d kBPL Member
I snuff my 12-10 stove with a cut-off soda can, then use a plastic pipette to put the unused alcohol back into the bottle; saves me having to measure fuel, too!Jul 25, 2018 at 6:24 pm #3548379
Are those responding to my question assuming a mountain house – esq type of freeze dried meal? If so I can see the advantages of hot to cold water soaking. But what about a small amount of dehydrated potatoes with slices of salami?
I do appreciate the responses looks like cold soak doesn’t really save you weight if you do a long pre soak. I can see cold sizing breakfast and then maybe warming a bit.
I’m always amazed at the resourcefulness of the members of this forum thanks again!Jul 25, 2018 at 7:49 pm #3548385Katherine .BPL Member
I’ve always been able to just blow out the alky stove (cat can, 12-10 & Starlyte)
I suppose you could make a case for cold soaking breakfast because you could do many hours of soaking during which you’re not carrying that extra water. But I can’t really think of a breakfast-y food that needs soaking.Jul 28, 2018 at 11:25 pm #3548772Bob ShuffBPL Member
Just got back from the Sierra yesterday with a crew of scouts. We had thunderstorms daily and hail twice. I cooked coffee everyday and oatmeal some mornings. We had hot meals every night and even ramen twice at lunch.
I might skip the hot breakfast because it’s sunny and warm, and even cold coffee can be good. When you are cold and wet, or even just cold, the hot meal helps a lot. We typically rolled into camp mid afternoon, sometimes wet, and setup camp in time to eat lunch and dive in the tent before the worst of the storm hot. The clouds would dissipate early evening and it would sometimes warm up until sunset. You could cold soak in the evening I guess, but I prefer something warm before going to bed. Long story short, I wanted a hot meal at least once a day. Boiling is also out backup if water filters failed.
Scouts don’t do alky, so we had canister stoves, MSR Windburner or Jetboils. 3 stoves for 12 souls.Aug 29, 2018 at 2:16 am #3553603Craig BBPL Member
Interesting perspectives! I’m trying the stoveless thing now to save weight and effort. I don’t really care about not having a hot meal for a few days. My last couple of trips I’ve just taken food bars or ready to eat things (short trips!) but next trip I’ll take some freeze dried things. I plan to fill them up with water in the evening, then eat them for breakfast. Hopefully that will be enough time for everything to soften! I also don’t really need to eat ‘breakfasty’ things for breakfast. My breakfast food for the past several years (both in town and the back country) is some oats, hemp hearts, almonds, cacao nibs, raisins, and almond butter to hold it together. Now I plan to eat this for dinner on my next trip.Aug 30, 2018 at 4:23 pm #3553855CorbyBPL Member
@corbyLocale: Coast Mountains
My last two outings I have been experimenting with cold soaking. Partly to save weight and also because it’s been a hot summer and don’t really want hot food after a hot day.
So far I have found ramen noodles soften to a point of edible in about 20min I add a pouch of tuna and some hot sauce and it’s pretty good. I just add water to them first thing when I get to camp and by the time my tent is up and camp chores are done its ready to eat.
For breakfast instant oatmeal is surprisingly good cold and was good to eat almost instantly. Starbucks Via coffee is acceptable but not especially enjoyable.Dec 6, 2019 at 5:05 pm #3621766
i’ve thought of this quite a bit myself, glad to see i’m not the only crazy one :) i haven’t done any experiments but the way i look at it is depending on your shelter you can probably set up in less than 15-20min and if your food just needs to be warmed there’s a time savings right there. plus your what carrying an extra 2- 4 cups of water which is roughly 16-32 oz of consumable weight that your only carrying for what a max of 4hrs for one meal assuming your lunch is cold. are you really going to notice an extra pound or two for 4hrs? i seriously doubt it…… i need to do some experimenting but IMHO i think it has merit and worth trying especially if you want a warm meal fast :)
ok also think of it this way with cold soaking only depending on your stove you could be saving a lot of weight (gas stoves) or very little (alchy stoves) so like everything else, hike your own hike :)Dec 6, 2019 at 5:32 pm #3621773Brian WBPL Member
I like the idea with dependable water. I get the idea of boiling water from less dependable sources as a treatment option combined with cooking.
Any good cold soak recipe worth trying out? I’d like to try this out at work. I can experiment with different soak times, and if it’s terrible, I can just go out for lunch. If it’s terrible at work, then there is no way I’m going to bring it backpacking.Dec 6, 2019 at 6:03 pm #3621777
i like your idea of trying it out at work…. need to do that myself! i’m thinking of just dehydrating my own meals. ie left overs or similar and cold soaking those… that way theoretically i will already like the meal :) plus i can cheat and use the microwave to warm if needed since it might be frowned upon lighting up a stove at my desk….Dec 6, 2019 at 6:34 pm #3621781
I enjoy a cold soak breakfast. Got this recipe courtesy of Iron Tazz.
3 tablespoons coconut milk powder
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons walnuts (crushed)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
3 tablespoons freeze dried fruit
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
1 packet stevia
(6.5 ounces dry)
Add water just enough to cover, or as much or little as you desire.
You can eat it right away, cold soak for 20 minutes- or overnight- or as long/little as you want
You can even use warm water and eat it hot.
This packs a TON of healthy calories and fats.. i think it is about 7-800 calories.. maybe a little more.
Best thing about it, it is very healthy for you and tastes great!!Dec 6, 2019 at 6:38 pm #3621782
this is is really good and almost everything i’ve tried off their site is goodDec 6, 2019 at 6:41 pm #3621783
Here is another cold soak meal i have eaten on the trail and really enjoy..
Peanutbutter rice and lentils
1 packet instant rice (little less)
2 oz lentils
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
3 tablespoons coconut milk powder
1 tablespoon butter powder
3 tablespoons mixed veggies
2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
Sprinkle red hot pepper
Add as much water as you like. I usually add 1 cup or 1 & 1/4 cup cold water and let it soak about an hour or so. You can make it nice and creamy.. its so goodDec 6, 2019 at 6:43 pm #3621784
The 2 ounces lentils are dehydrated lentils…fyi..Dec 6, 2019 at 9:05 pm #3621808Brian WBPL Member
I’ll give these a try.
Couple of questions. What mix veggies do you use and where do you source them from? I do have a dehydrator. What’s the approach on lentils? I’ll make soup at home with French lentils, but they take forever to cook. Where do you buy dehydrated ones from? It’s a lot of work to cook lentils and dehydrate them for a couple of ounces. And where do you get peanut butter powder from? Do you just dehydrate it and smash it up?Dec 6, 2019 at 9:12 pm #3621811
for freeze dried there are several sources, i usually dehydrate my own. i have an instapot so cooking lentils is easy and honestly i don’t see it as work even using a regular pot. you what the lentils in water, turn on stove and walk away until their done, maybe occasionally checking on them? not much work in that…. imho
you can buy powdered peanut butter from most big stores like walmart or what ever is local to you.
also to buy dehyrated food you can look at https://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/ or amazon
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