As you have seen in my prior posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), when in the woods I carry mostly dry food such as rice and instant mashed potatoes. Those foods are cheap, easy to find, and most importantly light weight. There is however a way to add more diversity to that menu, and it can be done without spending too much money. I am talking about dehydrating your own food. With a dehydrator, you can prepare anything from meat to vegetables and add it to your rice. Dehydrators very widely when it comes to price, mostly based on how much volume they can handle at one time. The base models work just as well.
Here I decided to dehydrate some chicken. I picked the breast meat because it has the least fat. Fat is the enemy of dehydration, as it will not dry and can cause your food to spoil. The less fatty the meat is, the better.
I cut up the chicken and cooked it in a non stick pan without using any oil. The cooking makes the food easier to prepare in the woods, and also removed a lot of the fat that may be contained in the meat.
When cooked, wash off the pieces of meat in some hot water and remove any remaining pieces of fat that might be stuck onto the chicken. Then cut it up into small pieces.
Place the meat on the dehydrator, and let it run. The drying process will take hours.
The end result will be a bunch of small, rock hard pieces of meat.
Gather them up and store them in a dry place. I am not sure what the recommended keep time is for dried meat, but I have had this particular batch for months without any problems. This method of preserving food lends itself very well to backpacking as it significantly reduces both the weight and volume of the food.
To prepare it, simply add it to boiling water and rehydrate. You will not get meat that looks exactly like it did when it was fresh, but it will add good variation to your meals.