Dehydration Project: Carbohydrates

When we eat our home dried meals we will be eating with a portion (or two) of carbs, pasta, rice, couscous, potato and so on. These can be added to the sauce (and I will provide some recipes that do that) or they can be stored separately.

Couscous is an old favourite for backpackers. It is very quick, light and works brilliantly with the pot cozy system. But over a week or two you can get, well, very fed up of couscous. Fortunately by pre cooking and drying other carbs we can have something that is just as quick and easy to prepare as couscous .

Rice

Quick cook rice that you buy in the shops is actually prepared this way, i.e. it is pre cooked and dried. I think tasty rices such as basmati and Thai rice really works well like this.

Simply steam your rice. Now there are many ways than this, but these two will always work

1. Add a measure of rice to a pan and the add twice the volume of water (or just under twice). Bring to a rolling simmer, turn down heat and leave to steam for about 20 minutes.

2. Add a measure of rice to a bowl and add twice the amount of boiling water. Cover with cling film. Leave to absorb for 20 mins (fine with white long grain rice).

When the rice is cooked, and the water absorbed, place on a drying sheet. Dehydrate until thoroughly dry. Place in zipped bags and crush to break up the grains.

NOTE: make sure that all of the rice is dry. If some feels a little damp break up the clump and dry some more. Wet rice goes off quickly and you will find a green-infested rice when you come to cook it.

To use, simply add to your food when you place it in the cooking pot. It will quickly rehydrate as you cook the food.

Pasta

This works in a similar way. Cook your pasta of choice (tagliatelle and penne works best I think). Drain. Place on drying sheet and dehydrate until thoroughly dry.

This rehydrates very quickly and, of course, the pasta has already been cooked. Pasta in a few seconds.

Potato

I don’t know about you but I hate commercially-dried potato. It is full of salt and has that unmistakable taste of preservative about it. The French are much better at it. Most French supermarkets sell a range of dehydrated soups and potato purées (mouseline) that are fabulous. They tend to cook their potatoes in milk before it is dried. Of course, you can’t add butter before you dry something but it is surprising how well milk works.

You can easily replicate this at home.

The tick is to make a potato purée — quite a wet one — rather than traditional mash. You don’t want lumps in it. Using a ricer gives great results, or when drained add more milk until it is very smooth. It doesn’t matter how thin it is as you’re going to remove the moisture anyway.

You will end up with a kind of thickish pancake like mixture. This can be broken up and placed in bags. It will take a while to reheat. If you have a food processor simply grind to a powder.

Add to cooking pot to taste.

You can make more exotic mash by cooking the potatoes in milk with a bay leaf or two to infuse (a bay tree in the garden is always a good thing to have). Add a clove or two of garlic with the potatoes and mash with them

Don’t add too much salt. Salty food takes longer to dry (a rule for all dishes). Carry a little sachet of salt and pepper with you when you walk if you must).

Virtually all carbohydrate sources can be dried this way although there’s probably no benefit in pre-drying those foodstuffs (such as couscous and quinola) that cook very quickly.

For a difference try replacing rice with bulgar wheat occasionally.

Comments

  1. mike pitt says:

    great project Andy,wish i’d got round to something like this.well done

  2. Marianne says:

    About not drying quinoa. I read somewhere on the internet that it is better to dry and cook quinoa b/c you have to rinse it thoroughly before cooking or it might taste, I think it was bitter. That rinsing is something that you can’t do on the trail.

  3. Peter says:

    If you have grown your own quinoa or have unprocessed quinoa it is coated in saponis that taste bitter and are the grains natural protection. You have to soak over-night and rinse well to remove it. The stuff I buy from the health food shop is ready to eat. I.e. pre-processed.
    Yes I got a dehydrator for xmas and am surfing for ideas. Like the blog.

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