One of the things that surprised me during our recent 24-day walk along California’s John Muir Trail was how popular the instant (dehydrated or freeze-dried) food pouches are in the United States. We saw a lot of people at various campsites along the way and I can’t think of seeing anyone cooking in a billy or lightweight frying pan. Even those out in the mountains for just a couple of days all seemed to be going down the dehydrated path. Considering how cheap these dehydrated foods are, and the fact that they taste pretty damn good, you can understand their popularity. Add to this the convenience of not having to carry a bowl or billy. You simply pour a cup or two of boiling water into the pouch, let it sit for five minutes and then eat. No more washing up. I like it.
Normally Karen and I dry our own meals. Unfortunately bringing our own dried food through US customs was not going to be straightforward. Buying the food pouches in Australia was also not an option as the variety is very limited and the prices the outdoor retailers charge here are well over double that in the United States. In the end Karen ordered the bulk of our main meals from a place called Mary Janes Farm, a sort of hippyish organic farm produce place in Moscow, Idaho. We also bought a bunch of Enertia breakfast and desert food pouches from Wilderness Dining. The guys at both Mary Janes Farm and Wilderness Dining were really helpful and organised to post our order directly to our hotel in Yosemite Valley. This worked out really well.
So how did it taste? Considering we usually dry our own foods (which are cooked exactly to how we like them) I was pleasantly surprised. Just about all of these commercial dehydrated meals were delicious. Perhaps the only minor point is that some of the Mary Janes Farm main meals were a tad bland, but we carried a bunch of small hot chilli packets which we used to fire them up a bit. The Mary Janes Farm products were organic (a good selling point to us) and the packaging had the added advantage of being burnable (a major consideration on long walks). Perhaps my only regret in having experienced these newer dehydrated pouch foods is that I’m now wishing we had these or similar brands available (at a reasonable price) here in Australia.