Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search



Boundary Waters named by USA Today as one of the Top Ten Places to Extend the Summer

This article has been provided in partnership with:

Boundary Waters

Drying the Fall Harvest--Part II by Teresa Marrone

Dateline: February 2001
In Part One of this article, I provided general instructions for home-drying several types of vegetables. Following are specific instructions for a few more foods. You'll also find some exciting, new camping recipes you can pack at home using dried foods.

Note: See Part One for pre-drying preparation and complete drying instructions.

BEANS, SHELL (Great Northern, kidney, lima, pinto, navy etc.)
1 cup canned or cooked = generally about 3/4 cup dried, depending on variety
Dried uncooked shell beans take too long to cook at camp unless they are cooked first, then dried. Canned shell beans also dry well; drain and rinse before spreading on dryer trays. Doneness test: lightweight, hard; some may ''pop'' like popcorn. Total drying time: 4 to 7 hours.

1 cup sliced or diced celery = scant 2 tablespoons dried
Slice or dice celery, then steam or cook in microwave with a little water until bright green (this speeds drying and preserves color). Spread on mesh-lined dryer sheet, or mesh-covered cake-cooling rack set over a cookie sheet. Doneness test: shriveled, tough, fairly dark. Total drying time: 4-1/2 to 6 hours.

1 cup diced tomatoes = scant 1/4 cup dried
1 cup halved plum tomatoes = 1/3 cup dried
1 cup sliced tomato = 1/4 cup dried
Wash tomatoes, cut away blossom core. Cut large tomatoes into quarters before slicing or dicing; plum or small tomatoes can simply be halved or quartered. Place diced tomatoes on a solid liner sheet or plastic-lined trays. Doneness test: leathery, shrunken. Total drying time: 8 to 12 hours.

Almost any fruit can be dried into a leather; simply puree in blender or food processor and spread evenly (about 1/4 inch) on dryer sheets* or cookie sheets lined with plastic wrap to dry. Puree should have the consistency of applesauce; if too thin, it takes too long to dry and may be brittle when dried. Citrus fruits are too watery to dry alone, but can be combined with other fruits for a mixed leather. Other mixes are interesting; try canned pineapple with banana and apples, or fresh raspberries and canned apricots. If the puree isn't sweet enough, add honey or sugar; cinnamon and other spices can also be added. Applesauce and tomato sauce can be dried with no additional preparation. Dry purees at 130-140 degrees F until leathery with no sticky spots; peel from the sheets and flip once during drying if the bottom is not drying properly. Total drying time: 4 to 10 hours.

*Some food dryers come with liner sheets that don't need to be lined with plastic wrap; check the book that came with your dehydrator, or experiment with a small amount. If the leather sticks to the liner sheet, spray the liner sheet with non-stick spray before pouring the puree on the liner sheet, or line with plastic wrap. Peel leather from liner sheets while still warm to avoid sticking.

1 cup sliced bananas = 1/2 cup dried
Wash banana before peeling to remove pesticide residue on the skin. Bananas with brown-flecked skins are better when dried than bananas that are just barely ripe. Doneness test: leathery-to-hard; fully ripe bananas have a deeper color when dried than just-ripe bananas. Total drying time: 7-1/2 to 9 hours.

GROUND BEEF (also ground chicken, venison, pork)
1 pound extra-lean ground meat = 1-1/3 cups dried
Fry in large skillet, stirring frequently to break up chunks, until completely cooked and evenly crumbled. Transfer cooked meat to a mesh colander set in the sink; rinse meat quickly with very hot tap water, shaking the colander to expose more of the meat to the hot water. (The rinsing removes fat which can turn rancid while the dried meat is in storage.) Let drain for a few minutes, then spread evenly on dryer trays that are lined with paper towels. Stir occasionally during drying. Doneness test: hard, crumbly, darker in color than before drying. Total drying time: 4 to 8 hours.

Recipes using dried foods:

Chili Soup with Macaroni

Combine in quart plastic zipper bag:

  • 1/2 cup macaroni
  • 1/3 cup dried diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup dried cooked or canned pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup dried cooked ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons dried diced red or green bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons dried chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1/2 package (1.125-ounce package) taco seasoning mix
  • Half of the leather from an 8-ounce can tomato sauce

At camp: In medium pot, boil 2-1/2 cups water. Add mix; stir well. Cover; remove from heat and let stand about 10 minutes. Stir well and return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until macaroni is tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
2 or 3 servings

Lentil-Bulgur Chili

Combine in quart plastic zipper bag:

  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/3 cup bulgur
  • 1/3 cup dried shredded carrot
  • 2 tablespoons dried celery slices
  • 2 tablespoons husked, salted sunflower seeds
  • 4 dried tomato halves, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dried diced green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic chips (dried; in the spice aisle at the supermarket)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon EACH ground cumin, cayenne pepper, and black pepper
  • Half the leather from an 8-ounce can tomato sauce

Carry separately:

  • 2 ounces Cheddar cheese (or 1/2 cup shredded)

At camp: In medium pot, boil 2-1/2 cups water. Add mix; stir thoroughly. cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Stir well and return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes; add additional water if it is sticking during cooking. While chili cooks, shred or coarsely chop the cheese. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.
3 or 4 servings

Bananas Flambe

If you are on a relaxed trip and have a bit of rum or brandy in your grub box, try this adult-style treat. The alcohol burns off during the cooking, leaving only the taste.

Combine in pint plastic zipper bag:

  • 1 cup dried banana slices
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecan pieces
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH nutmeg and ginger
  • A pinch EACH of ground cloves and salt

Carry separately:

  • 2 tablespoons rum or brandy

At camp: In medium pot, combine 1/2 cup cold water with mix. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bananas are tender and sauce is syrupy, 5 to 8 minutes.

In small pot, heat rum gently until just warm. Pour over bananas. Ignite carefully with long-handled match; allow flames to burn out completely before serving.
2 or 3 servings

--article courtesy of


Techniques and recipe excerpted from The Back-Country Kitchen: Camp Cooking for Canoeists, Hikers, and Anglers, by Teresa Marrone. This 208-page book features over 150 recipes for campers, as well as complete home-drying instructions for over 50 foods. Article copyright 2001 Teresa Marrone; used with permission. All rights reserved.


Read "Eating Without Cooking"

Free Shipping & No Sales Tax on $40 or More!
Your Banner Could be Here