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Dehydrated dinners

Margaret Earle

Recipes for camping


Initially I bought a dehydrator to make fruit snacks for tramping — like dried banana and feijoa. Over time, friends inspired me to use my dehydrator to make pre-cooked dinners.


I use a simple round dehydrator with five trays and follow this method:

  • Cook the meal in a large pan until it is almost dry and then spread the contents evenly across the racks of the dehydrator (about 1 cm thick).

  • It will take at least 12 hours for the meal to be sufficiently dehydrated. It should be the consistency of corn flakes.

  • Place the dehydrated meal in a dry plastic bag and seal it.

  • Store it in a cool and dry place away from the direct sun.



A dehydrator enables you to make meals in advance for either tramping or camping. These meals will keep for several weeks unrefrigerated and longer if you vacuum seal them.


You can make both meat-based and vegetarian meals. When using meat, I have found that generally minced meats (beef, lamb, pork) are easier to rehydrate than chunks of meat.


When you want to rehydrate the meal, empty the contents of the bag into a pot or billy. Cover completely with cold water. You can leave it to soak for a while or heat it immediately. Bring to the boil and continue heating until the mixture is fully rehydrated.


Here’s a couple of recipes that I have adapted for the dehydrator.


 

Ratatouille

Serves 4


Ingredients

3–4 large eggplants

Salt

1–2 onions (chopped)

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

2 capsicums (chopped)

1–2 tsp dried basil

2–3 chopped zucchini


Method

  • Chop eggplants into small cubes; sprinkle liberally with salt and leave for at least 30 mins. Rinse and drain chopped eggplants.

  • Fry chopped onions in olive oil. When onions are clear, add drained eggplant and fry until eggplant is soft. Add additional olive oil as needed.

  • Add chopped tomatoes, capsicum and basil and simmer uncovered until most of the fluid has boiled away. Add zucchini and continue simmering until mixture is dry. Be careful it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

  • Lay mixture on trays in dehydrator. Turn dehydrator on and check after 12 hours. Continue dehydrating until the contents are the consistency of corn flakes.

Can be served with rice or pasta.


 

Venison stew

Serves 4


Ingredients

450g venison (diced, all sinew removed)

1 Tbsp olive oil

2½ cups diced potatoes

2 cups diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 large onion (diced)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tsp, a mix of dried green herbs

Salt and pepper to taste

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 cup beef stock (or more, if needed)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce


Method

  • Heat olive oil in a large pan and add diced venison. Sauté for a least 5 minutes until it is beginning to brown. Remove venison.

  • Add potatoes, carrots, celery and onion to pan and sauté for around 10 minutes until they start to soften.

  • Add garlic, dried green herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for a further minute and then add chopped tomatoes, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Add venison and bring stew to the boil. If necessary add more beef stock but don’t make the mixture too watery.

  • Simmer covered for 12 hours, stirring occasionally. When venison is tender, remove lid and boil off any excess liquid. Be careful it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

  • Lay mixture on trays in dehydrator. Turn dehydrator on and check after 12 hours. Continue dehydrating until the contents are the consistency of corn flakes.

Can be served with rice or instant mashed potatoes. 


 

Photo above: ©2023 Danielle Carp instagram

ckw.nz/dehyrdate-it-video Shoshanna, Instagram

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