By Scott Stoddard

   JELLY-filled donuts,  a bag of Doritos and a case of soda  pop 
will  usually  get you through an easy  weekend  over-nighter  of 
rabbit  hunting or target shooting - and that's if the  weather's 
mild.   Long  expeditions to remote areas of  the  each  however,  
usually require dehydrated or freeze dried food that are as light 
as air but came heavily spiced to overcome the cardboard factor. 
      The  first few days of eating commercial backpacking  foods 
aren't  bad.    You're tired,  hungry and anything  tastes  good.  
It's  the same principle with outdoor furniture.  Any  flat  rock 
will  do when you're dog tired.  Just being outside  in  gorgeous 
surroundings  tends  to block out the  negative.   Yet  something 
happens  to  backpacking foods after the third,  or at  the  very 
latest,   the fourth day - everything begins to taste  the  same.  
The Turkey Tetrazzini tastes just like the Beef Stroganoff,   and 
the Stroganoff just like the Alpine Minestrone.  Is it the  plas
tic/foil  cook-in-their-own pouches,  the infamous spice  concoc
tions  or something about the butane cook stove that causes  this 
taste-the-same syndrome?
      On one lengthy backpacking trip I can remember drooling  as 
I watched a fellow hiker plop sections of real navel orange  into 
her  mouth while I sat there munching on gorp (peanuts, M&Ms  and 
salty  raisins),  and swilling down warm Tang.  After a  week  of 
living  on dehydrated meals you'll give just about  anything  for 
some "real" food. 
  Our early U. S.  astronauts experienced somewhat the same prob
lem.  Space  food consisted of pureed gunk  packaged  in  plastic 
squeeze  tubes  along  with their  famous  orange-flavored  Tang.  
Meanwhile,   Soviet  cosmonauts  were dining  on  caviar,   black 
breads, salami and other delicacies.  Today shuttle crews are fa
vored  with shrimp cocktail,  teriyaki chicken,   tomato  egglant 
casserole  (one of their favorites), and many natural foods  like 
fruits,  tortillas and peanut butter. 
  If today's astronauts can eat more normally,  certainly  modern 
backpackers can enjoy eating foods that taste good,  won't spoil,  
and are easy to prepare.  The key to this is pre-trip planing and 
proper  packaging.  Before getting into making your  own  gourmet 
hiking meals,  it's a good idea to learn how our predecessors did 

Jerky,   Pemmican - The very first backpackers on this  continent 
were the Indians and they developed some of the best trail  foods 
known to man.  Dried meat,  known as jerky,  is today a  favorite 
snack found in most convenience stores.  Store bought beef  jerky 
contains  lots of salt,  seasonings and extra chemicals that  can 
make you sick on the trail.  It's better to make your own so that 
you can control the flavor and ingredients. 
  Jerky can be made from venison,  elk or Buffalo,  but is gener
ally made from beef.  A good lean round steak or flank steak will 
work great.  Cut the meat in long thin strips against the  grain. 
If  there's  any fat or gristle,  remove it and  throw  it  away.  
Cowboys used to sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper,  a  small 
amount of chili powder, and then simply hang it on wire lines  in 
the sun to dry. 
 For  more flavorful jerky,  marinate the meat in a  solution  of 
two  tablespoons  of soy sauce,  two drops of  Tabasco  sauce  or 
cayenne pepper to taste, 1/4 teaspoon of salt,  ground pepper and 
one fresh clove of garlic,  minced.  Place meat and marinade in a 
Ziploc plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. Then drain  the 
meat and place on the oven racks to dry.  The oven should be  set 
at 140 degrees with the oven door partially open.  Dry for  about 
six  to  eight hours or until the meat turns  dark  and  brittle.  
Other  marinade ingredients that add a unique taste to  the  meat 
are red wine,  red wine vinegar,  Worchestershire sauce,   minced 
onion,  a pinch of thyme,  oregano and marjoram. 
  One  of the best known survival foods in the history  of  North 
America is pemmican.  Invented by the Indians as rations for long 
hunting trips,  pemmican was used on the Lewis and Clark  Expedi
tion as trail food and by Admiral Peary's group as a staple  food 
during their successful journey to the North Pole. 
  Pemmican  was made using equal parts of jerky,   wild  berries,  
and  boiled  fat from animals.  A modern day  recipe  substitutes 
peanut butter for the fat.   The ingredients to be mixed include: 
eight  ounces of jerky pounded into powder; eight ounces of  rai
sins  or  dried apricots,  eight ounces of unroasted  peanuts  or 
pecans.  Heat up two tablespoons of honey and four tablespoons of 
peanut butter until softened and then blend together with a pinch 
of cayenne pepper.  Add to the jerky/nuts/raisin mixture and work 
thoroughly through the mixture.  Stored in plastic bags  pemmican 
will keep indefinitely in a cool,  dry place. 
   Before you attempt to make your own trail foods and meals  you 
will need to build or acquire an important piece of equipment - a 
food dryer.   Commercial food dryers are available for about $100 
but  you can make your own for about $30.  Buy the  drying  racks 
first  -  they will determine the width and depth  of  your  food 
dryer.    Metal cake cooling racks work great.   Buy  the  square 
ones with dimensions of about 10 x 10 inches. 
 You  want the dryer to be shaped more like a tall  square  tower 
rather than a low wide rectangle.  Because this unit doesn't have 
a fan to keep air circulating it uses the principle of "warm  air 
rises"  to  create the circulation.   A 100 to 500 watt  bulb  is 
located  at  the  base of the dryer.  Air enters  at  the  bottom 
vents,   heats up,  rises through the dryer racks and  exits  out 
the  top  vents.  The temperature inside should be at  least  100 
degrees for proper food drying.  Build the dryer frame using 1  x 
2s and use Masonite for the sides.   Screw eyes are used to  hold 
the  door closed.  Don't paint or varnish the dryer  once  you've 
built it. 
   When planning a menu for a wilderness outing it's best to plan 
for  one or two small meals and one main meal at the end  of  the 
day.   Trail  snacks should also be provide  for  in-between-meal 
energy replenishment.  On a piece of paper list the days you will 
be gone on the left-hand side and on the top of the page - break
fast,   lunch and dinner.  If you draw lines separating the  days 
and  each  meal category,  you should have a page of  boxes  with 
each  box representing a particular meal of the day.   To  figure 
out  what to put into each box of the menu you might try  one  of 
the backpackers cookbooks at the end of this article. 
  The  basic principle of packing food for the trail is  keep  it 
simple and light.   For quick,  trouble-free meals that keep well 
n  the  trail,   pack hard salami,  small tins of  fish  -  tuna,  
shrimp,  sardines - and chicken.  Don't forget crackers,  cheese,  
peanut butter,  dried fruit and granola for no cook/cleanup  eat-
as-you-go meals.  Small cans of evaporated milk can be used  full 
strength  for  coffee creamer or cut 50/50 with water to  use  as 
whole  milk.  Yogurt is ideal for shorter trips.  It will  holdup 
for about 48 hours.  And of course cheeses will just continue  to 
  Black breads,  pumpernickel and dense whole-wheat breads travel 
well  on the trail.  Make them at home or buy them at your  local 
bakery.  Don't slice them until you're out on the trail or you'll 
end up with a bag of crumbs.   Bagels travel very well in a back

Food Packaging - When preparing meals on the trail many times you 
can get out of pot cleaning duty by mixing ingredients in  sturdy 
self-locking  bags  like  the Ziploc  brand.   Rehydrating  dried 
fruits  and  vegetables can be done in these bags too.   Use  the 
large gallon size bags to pack each individual meal.   Label  the 
bag with a wide swatch of masking tape and mark on the tape using 
a   waterproof   marker   the  day   and   the   meal   (example: 
Saturday/Dinner).   Remove unnecessary packing from grocery store 
bought  foods (cardboard boxes,  etc. ) but don't forget to  clip 
the instructions from the box and include it with the food. 
    If  you have one of those Seal-a-Meal machines you  can  pre-
measure mixes and powders at home,  include a slip of paper  with 
instructions,   and  then seal the bag from the  elements.   This 
saves  time  on the trail when mixing up  your  favorite  pancake 
recipe or your favorite dehydrated gourmet spaghetti sauce. 
    Be  sure to wrap individual portions of baked goods  such  as 
cookies,   chews  and muffins in plastic food wrap.   Then  place 
them  in a plastic bag or container.  When packing your  pack  be 
sure to protect your food from spoilage or contamination by other 
items  in the pack,  such as soap,  toiletries and liquid  fuels.  
You  never  know when your sunscreen or insect  repellent  bottle 
will burst due to high altitude. 
 The weight of food to pack for each hiker varies from one to two 
and  a  half pounds per day.  Of course the colder  the  weather,  
the more calories you are going to need to stoke the fires.   The 
following  are ten ways to cut down on the weight of your  provi

 1.  Eat less (If you can afford to be eating less you may not be 
in  the best shape for heavy duty exercise.  Your best bet is  to 
get in shape before you go,  and then eat heartily).  2.  Use re
cipes  with only the shortest cooking times to cut down on  fuel.  
3.  Save fuel by undercooking foods slightly and letting them sit 
for  a few moments,  covered,  to finish cooking.  4.  Eat  heavy 
meals  first,   like canned goods,  fresh eggs,   and  rice.   5.  
Pack  only one pot meals.  6.  Use dried soups and dumplings  for 
dinner.   7.   Pack make-ahead meals to save  cooking  time.   8.  
Substitute fruit leathers for gorp,  Potato Buds for rice,  pasta 
for rice,  Butter Buds for butter or margarine.  9.  Keep strict
ly to the pounds-per-person limit that you decide on.  10.   Save 
water  - use the one pot method in trail directions if  it's  of
fered as an alternate method. 
   Use  your dehydrator to dry fresh fruit and vegetables.   Some 
of  the  best  foods to dehydrate are  eggplant,   bell  peppers,  
mushrooms,  carrots,  tomatoes,  zucchini and Gravenstein apples.  
I've  had great luck drying vegetables out of the can.  Corn  and 
green  beans dry up really nice.  Avoid canned vegetables  packed 
with heavy sodium concentrations. 
   We've already talked about making beef jerky.  It can be added 
to  stews and such for extra flavor.  You can also  bring  ground 
beef  for your meals if you dry it in your oven at  home.   Brown 
the meat in a fry pan the way you normally do and then drain  off 
the  fat.  Dry it on a cookie sheet in the oven for six to  eight 
hours at 140 degrees with the door slightly ajar.   One pound  of 
ground  beef  dries to six ounces,  about one and a  third  cups.   
Store  the dried ground beef in a Ziploc bag in the  refrigerator 
until you're ready to go. 
  Meals really stand out when you use the following fresh  ingre
dients: onions, cloves of garlic and salted butter.  Fresh  onion 
and garlic sauteed in butter will marry the flavors of  anything.  
You can pack garlic cloves in left over 35mm film cans.  In  fact 
you  can use plastic film cans for other important items such  as 
salt  and  pepper,   herbs and cooking oils.   If  you  want  see 
through  film  containers,  buy Fuji film.   Fresh  cheeses  make 
boring  meals come alive.   Parmesan,  Reggiano,  aged Gouda  and 
dry  Jack can be carried in wide mouth plastic bottles  and  will 
last for days. 
  If  you plan activities in the fall and winter months,   super
charge  your  meals with extra calories,  so that  the  body  has 
enough  fuel  to fight off hypothermia and exhaustion.   To  whet 
your appetite for some cold weather camping here are two  recipes 
from the Hungry Hiker's Book of Good Cooking. 

Russian Black Bread
1 square unsweetened chocolate
2 cups water
1 cup bran flakes
1 cup cornmeal
2 envelopes dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
2 1/2 to 3 cups white flour
2 cups rye flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
  Glaze: 1 egg white mixed with
    1 tablespoon water

 Melt  chocolate in 2 cups water and pour this over the bran  and 
cornmeal  in a large bowl.  Let cool.  Meanwhile,   dissolve  the 
yeast  in 1/2 cup warm water.  To the cooled bran  and  cornmeal,  
add  the  oil,  molasses,  yeast,  brown sugar,   salt,   coffee,  
fennel,  add 2 1/2 cups of white flour.  Mix well.   Add the  rye 
and whole-wheat flours,  then add more white flour until you  can 
knead the dough (It will be sticky).   Knead it for five minutes,  
adding more flour if necessary,  then put it into a greased bowl,  
turn,   and cover with a damp towel.  Let it rise  until  double.   
Punch the dough down.  Divide it in half and form each half  into 
a  ball.   Set these on greased cookie sheets,  cover,   and  let 
rise  until nearly double,  about 30 minutes.  Brush  the  loaves 
with a mixture of egg white and water.   Bake at 375 degrees  for 
50 to 60 minutes,  until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped - the 
crust should be very dark.  Cool on racks. 
     For winter meals when you need to pack as many calories into 
your  meals  as possible,  make up a soup that  positively  brims 
with  delicious  nutrients.    As well as  containing  plenty  of 
vitamins,  carbohydrates, fats,  and protein,  Super Soup has the 
advantage of using up the odds and ends of dried vegetables  that 
you have left over from making more refined recipes.  And a  very 
tasty soup it is,  too! Dumplings make it a complete meal.  Note: 
milk  does not boil well - it froths and boils over and  makes  a 
general  nuisance  of  itself,  so add it only in  the  last  few 
minutes of cooking. 

 Super Soup
1/3 cup barley
1/3 cup lentils
1/3 cup Potato Buds,  or 1/4 cup
    instant potato powder
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup dried sliced vegetables
1 tablespoon dried meat
A pinch each of thyme and marjoram
1/2 cup dry milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup grated or cut cheese
(optional) 1 cup biscuit mix packed
  in its own bag for dumplings

 Put  into one bag everything except the milk - butter or  marga
rine  -  and grated cheese.  Trail directions: 1.  Put  the  soup 
into  a pot with 4 1/2 cups water.  Bring to boil,   then  simmer 
for 1/2 hour.  1.  During the last five minutes,  stir in 1/2 cup 
dry  milk  and  3 tablespoons butter or margarine.   Add  cut  or 
grated cheese.  3.  To make dumplings add 1/4 cup water to 1  cup 
biscuit  mix and make a stiff batter.  Form into balls about  the 
size  of  ping-pong balls,  and float them on top  of  the  soup.  
Cover  so  they steam and cook until done,  during  the  last  20 
minutes' cooking time. 

 Outdoor Foods Information Access
  For  more  information on preparing your own  trail  foods  and 
backpacking meals the following books are available:

Wilderness Cuisine,  by Carole Latimer.  Wilderness Press.  (800) 
443-7227.   Carole  Latimer leads women on her Call of  the  Wild 
wilderness trips. Imagine after hiking six hours at 9,000 or 10, 
000 feet  and staggering into camp at the end of the day  you are 
treated  to Thai lemongrass coconut-milk soup,   Mexican  tabouli 
salad,  a main dish of puttanesca with goat cheese and  angelhair 
pasta,   fresh-baked cornbread served with  home-canned  rhubarb-
raspberry  jam,   ginseng tea and a desert  of  flaming  cherries 

Original  Cowboy  Cookbook,  Authentic  recipes  from  bunkhouse,  
chuck  wagon,   cook shack,  line shack,   saloon,   trail  drive 
cooking  and main house cooking,  by Wild Wes  Medley.   Original 
Western  Publications,  1020 Mt.  Vernon Rd. ,   Hurricane,  West 
Virginia  25526.  This book doesn't exactly  contain  backpacking 
food but the recipes date back to the 1840s where western outdoor 
cooking  was born.  Chapters include: Everyday  Cooking,   Sauces 
and  Gravies,  Breads and Biscuits, Desserts and  Candy,   Curing 
and  Preserves,  Cowboy Remedies and a Special  Barbecue  Section 
(worth the price of the whole book). 

The  Hungry Hiker's Book of Good Cooking, The first cookbook  for 
backpackers  (and  canoeists  and campers)  that  makes  possible 
superb  meals  on the trail,  by  Gretchen  McHugh.  Recreational 
Equipment  Inc.  ,  P. O.  Box 88125,  Seattle,   WA  9e138-2125.  
(800) 426-4840.  Consider this the do-it-yourself backpacker food 
bible. Learn how to prepare ahead with fresh ingredients your own 
delicious,   home-dried foods and mixes,  and then how to  trans
form them easily into wonderful dishes over a camp stove or fire. 
More than 135 recipes from hearty soups and stews with  dumplings 
to pilafs and pastas,  from delectable stir-frys to skillet-baked 

The Wilderness Ranger Cookbook,  San Juan National Forest Associ
ation,   P.  O.  Box 2261, Durango,  CO  81302;  (303)  385-4634.  
When you spend weeks at a time in the back country,  you come  up 
with  some fairly creative and tasty recipes.  So it  just  makes 
sense  that the people employed by the forest service,  the  wil
derness  rangers,   would come up with a  fantastic  cookbook  of 
trail  recipes.   The  112 page collection  contains  8O  recipes 
including: Regurgitate de la Prospector con Yama,  Sauteed Chant
erelles, and Back country Cheesecake.  The book includes the full 
text  of  The Wilderness Act,  and contain  slots  of  wilderness 
facts  and  history,  with personal reflections  about  the  wild 
places visited by the contributing rangers. 

Reprinted with permission: