It’s easy for hikers and campers to get sick of the boring commercially available dehydrated meals — so many of these prepared foods have a bland taste or an awful texture. Rather than packing sub-par dehydrated meals or subsisting on fruit and trail mix, hardcore woodsmen should check out Linda Yaffe’s book “Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail”. The premise of the book is right there in the title — Yaffe wants to teach you simple recipes you can prepare ahead of time and pack for your next hiking or outdoor adventure. Rehydrating food is simple — boil water, add the dehydrated prepared food, and enjoy home cooking on a long hike or camping trip.
What’s in the book?
Besides 150 recipes for dehydrated food items for the outdoors, there are ideas for camp snacks and “no cook” food items for hikers, including recipes for fruit leather and other portable snacks. Linda Yaffe also offers campers special guidelines on how to pick the right cooking equipment for the campsite, and includes a chapter on proper techniques for keeping and finding freshwater supplies in the wilderness. Vegetarian and vegan options are also highlighted throughout the book, though meat-eaters will find plenty to love as well.
How’s the food?
The recipes found in Yaffe’s backpacking cookbook fit the bill for easy to rehydrate and nutritious meals. With names like “Devil’s Gate Crab Casserole”, I had high hopes for the flavor of these incredibly easy to prepare camping meals. Unfortunately, the flavors are just not there. I found I had to alter the recipes a great deal (for instance, adding chili paste and other spices to the above Crab Casserole) to make them tolerable.
The strongest feature of this book is the author’s insistence that dehydrating food doesn’t have to be a hassle. While many dehydrated food cookbooks suggest you dehydrate each element of the meal seperately, Yaffe shows you how you can dehydrate the entire meal after it is put together. This saves time and adds to the flavor and textures of the food, to a point. The problem with Yaffe’s recipes isn’t her dehydration method, it is the recipes themselves.
How much does it cost?
Yaffe’s book is available at retailers all over the web. Prices range from $5 to $11, depending on the retailer and the condition of the book.
“Backpack Gourmet” is not the only book on the market that offers dehydrated food recipes for campers. In fact, the recipes in “Backpack Gourmet” are not nearly as sophisticated as Christine Conners’ “Lipsmackin’ Backpackin'”, and it seems sometimes that Linda Yaffe has sacrificed taste in favor of easy camp preparation. If flavor and texture are important to you, “Backpack Gourmet” may not be your best bet. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a camping cookbook that provides you with a nutritional and easy to cook set of dehydrated meals, “Backpack Gourmet” is a great choice.
Though the recipes in “Backpack Gourmet” are really easy to prepare and rehydrate at the campsite, they don’t pay as much attention to the flavor of the food as a true camping gourmand should. Still, Yaffe’s theories on dehydrating food are solid, and even though you may need to alter her recipes to add flavor, you can still use this book as a great reference tool when dehydrating meals for the campsite. That’s why I rate the book as a solid 4 out of 5.