Yoyar's Brave Chili Dehydration Experiment

My friend Yoyar has decided to go on a 14 day solo canoe loop through the north west corridors of Algonquin Provincial Park. It would seem that he has rediscovered the camping bug (his recent bout with a suspected cryptosporidium infection that followed our last camping trip notwithstanding). Since food is a significant portion of pack weight and volume, he thought it would be good to bring dehydrated food along with him. After watching a series of videos on YouTube by Tinny on dehydrating and camp cooking, he decided to plunge right into it.

He used his new Trangia (of which I am quite jealous) stove and GSI kettle.

He provided the following information and photographs on how to make dehydrated Chili:
"I picked up a Salton dehydrator, bought at a store in Mississauga, Ontario that sells seconds, i.e. items carrying no warranty. It cost around $30, and seems to do a great job.

Usually the store sells items that have been repackaged, have a cosmetic issue, or some other insignificant issues.

Since the dehydrating machine's trays are perforated (to allow air to flow through), and since I was dehydrating a liquid (Chili), you will need some parchment paper.

In the image above, you can see the steam and moisture collecting on the lid as the chili dehydrates.

I put the dehydrator under the hood fan in the kitchen to get rid of the heat it generates.

I also picked up a Seal a Meal at same store, so that I can vacuum-seal the food.

Here is my recipe:
  • Packet of store-bought chili seasoning
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 5 small tomatoes, diced
  • Onion and garlic to taste
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper

Caramelize the onions and lightly fry the garlic (not too much or it will taste bitter). Then brown the meat thoroughly.

Remove lots of the fat from the meat using some paper towels, but you want to leave some fat in for calories and flavour (since I'm going to vacuum seal and freeze I don't worry about fat going rancid in the air).

Then deglaze the pan with some water and add the seasoning. Don't make it watery, just enough water to make a paste.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer until the chili is thick. Since we're going to be dehydrating, simmering until the chili is thicker than usual is a good idea.

Using a wooden spoon, just spread out the chili amount onto the parchment paper that you earlier cut out to the size of the tray.

A hole in the middle of the parchment seems like a good idea, cause the dehydrator has a hole there.

Dehydrate for 24 hours.

It comes off the paper easily in crispy chunks, I put the chunks in a bowl and crunched them up some more. I'd say it weighs maybe 1/4 of what it started out as.

I used the Seal a Meal on the bits and it seemed to work nicely. I then put it in the freezer.

The amount I made was equivalent to 3 hydrated ladles full, which with some pasta or rice would be quite a big meal."

So after rehydrating it, his verdict was that he probably dehydrated it for too long. It had a burnt flavour to it all. So he will be working on improving the process, and will probably send updates...

Maybe he'll mail some to me to try out...



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