Backpacking Foods

“Backpacking foods” has many possible meanings, from fresh foods for campfire cooking to salami and GORP, but today we’re thinking about the special foods produced for campers. The pictures above show some of the options we carry at Uncle Sam’s, including MREs (meals ready to eat — we also call them MRIs).

So why would you freeze dry something? Let’s get sciency for a minute. Bacteria that lead to food decay thrive in moist environments. Freeze drying food removes all the water, so microorganisms can’t live and grow and spoil your food.

Getting all the water out not only increases the shelf life of the food, it also makes the food much, much lighter. Since the main goal with food for backpacking is to make it last longer and take up less space, removing the water is definitely a high priority.

You can remove the water by drying the food with heat and air, but this changes the character of the food. Think of a grape vs. a raisin, for example. Raisins are still tasty, but putting the water back in won’t change them back to grapes. Grapes and raisins and two different things. Beef jerky is different from fresh beef, too. Our freeze-dried curries and fruits and other foods, on the other hand, can be reconstituted with water for a tasty meal.

What’s more, the nutritional value is still surprisingly high when you do. Studies have shown that even the phytochemicals and antioxidants of fruit and vegetables survive freeze-drying.

The longer the backpacking trip, the more you’re going to appreciate freeze-dried meals. Grab a few for your next trip.

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