Cryovaced dehydrated meals

Submitted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 14:32
ThreadID: 118907 Views:2443 Replies:12 FollowUps:23
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I have been dehydrating complete meals and cryovacing them for years as they take up so little room and weight and have managed with just a fridge for everyday things like milk, cheese, hams, uncooked meat etc and had the meals in a thermal bag (cool & dark environment). In the past I've had no problems with the meals as day time temperatures might get to mid-high thirties but at night anywhere from -6 to 10 degrees and the meals have been fine even after 6 weeks. The meals for this upcoming trip however, are going to have to survive constant 35plus day temperatures and low to mid 20 overnight temperatures for 8 weeks. I'm thinking it will reduce the meal shelf life considerably (ie 2-4 weeks??) and whilst every endeavour has been made to ensure absolute minimal fat content in the meals, from what I can find out, it will be the minimal fat content that brings the whole thing "undone" by turning rancid.

Has anyone got any ideas on what "shelf life" I can expect? Have looked at various "prepper", walkers, food science etc web sites also but can't really find anything on completely cooked, dehydrated then cryovaced meals and keeping them for so long without refrigeration as a minimum. We are taking a fridge only which will not have capacity for the meals. Does anyone else do this sort of thing and if so what are your experiences? Basically, any help, greatly appreciated.
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Reply By: OBJ - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 15:59

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 15:59
If you don't have capacity to store your food in the fridge, what are you taking it for?
OBJ
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 07:14

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 07:14
I'm gunna guess he is taking the food to eat. Can't think of any other reason.

I don't know about you but I can't fit 4 weeks of food in a 39l fridge.
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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:16

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 16:16
you do realise that when you leave home ,you can still buy food .
theres not a lot of difference in price at home or away ,
take small amounts an top up while travelling ,
cryovacing is available just about everywhere now days
mechpete
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:04

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:04
Depends where you travel Pete. For example we will be travelling slowly from the East Coast right through to the Pilbara and there will not be much availability beyond Coober Pedy. Price notwithstanding.
We will cryovac from home and cryovacing is available at Coober Pedy, but that's it for about four weeks until Newman WA.
Our fridge is also only 35 litre so reserved for stuff that must be kept refrigerated. No, not beer. We now have a 10 litre fridge in the cabin that serves for cool drinks.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: GarryR - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:22

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:22
Judy preps a lot of meals ,freezes them. vac seal and all is good. We have a 37ltr fridge that we turn into freezer mode and take out the evenings meal and place it into the warmer/cooler in the cab. This keeps our drinks cool as well as other stuff and we still require putting our vac meal onto the gamma oven (bulbar) to finish defrosting while we set up camp. The cooler has not needed to turn on by doing this, although day temps don't get above 35degrees when we have travelled
location - Warragul -Victoria
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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:32

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:32
Our ability to restock will be very limited-only going near a couple of communities in the whole period so we need to be as self sufficient as possible. Have done plenty of trips of the same duration but not the constant heat and the vehicle will be heating up when we are away from it also. Like the idea of another response using bricks-we'll have to try it slightly different but I think it will work. This trip we can't afford to run the fridge as a freezer (like you, it's a 35 litre) otherwise your idea would work & does work well. Thank you for your input.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:14

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:14
Roadrunner,

If your electrical supply will manage it, I wonder if the scheme of freezing a 'Cold Brick' overnight then placing it into an esky with the food during the day would work. I have seen others refer to such a scheme and may try it myself.
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Allan

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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:25

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:25
Your comment has given me the idea of the old "can of coke" trick-rotate 2 cans from the fridge each morning & night into/back from the thermal bag. No room for an esky unfortunately and we're only taking our 35 litre fridge for all the things that do need to be refrigerated but I can make sure a can or two can end up getting cold all the time in the fridge for swapping over. Thanks for your idea..something simple & workable.
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Reply By: Gronk - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:41

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:41
Excuse my ignorance, but how do you dehydrate a meal ?? Does it taste the same when you rehydrate it ??
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 19:27

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 19:27
Hi

"How do you dehydrate a meal ?"

With a food dehydrator of course :)

Some HERE

Taste the same ? Probably not but if it still tastes OK them job done.

Friends of mine often dehydrate food when hiking to save weight and a bit of space...plus doesn't go off as fast.

I can not however answer OP's original questions about time frames in hot climate, though as someone says if its dried and cryovaced should last a good while. Beef jerky last forever ...and my leather shoes seem to be OK after 10 years as well :)

Cheers
Greg

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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:15

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:15
Dehydrating meals is the same as dehydrating anything else. Just use very lean meat and vegetable cuts into 5-7mm size & non oily sauces. I do all sorts of meals ranging from the usual spag bog, sang chow bow, curries, sheperds pie (minus the potato topping which it gets dished up on), spiced indian beef etc. I also do dips, vegetables, salads. The key is small sizing of the ingredients to dry and absolute minimum fat. As to taste, providing you give the meal time to hydrate back, it comes back like new. We 4 wheel drive but the hikers are what got me started on this. The weight and volume difference is unbelievable. Water requirements are not as big as people first assume with hydrating either.

I use a retail purchased hydrator with additional trays for more capacity.
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Reply By: get outmore - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:49

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 17:49
Ok fat goes rancid because it oxidises. I would have thought by vacc sealing as well as drying you would be doing all that can be done
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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:09

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:09
Unfortunately you can't dry fat 100% & it will go rancid despite being cryovaced. Very unpleasant when it happens.
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Reply By: Bigfish - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 18:47

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 18:47
Just buy some tins of food. There is so much variety. Takes forever to go off and is quick and easy.
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 19:59

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 19:59
And generally taste ordinary! Way too much salt, way too much MSG and just generally yuk!
We dehydrate for hiking execursions, they rehydrate in a screwtop container with boiling water from brekky or lunch (depending on whether you want lunch or dinner) and taste as good as freshly cooked.

Avoid anything that generates sharp points (spag bog for example) as they will penetrate the vac bag. Dehyd soups are a winner!

Oh, and vacuum packaging is the general term - cryovac is a trade name for one such manufacturer's equipment.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:16

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:16
Cryovac??? Well, yes. Cryovac is a tradename but it has become a generic name for all vacuum packaging operations. Probably because it is easier to type and say than "vacuum packaging". The price of fame!

Heaven forbid if we get "I'm going to Vacco the meat for the trip across the Simmo"!!!
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:22

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 21:22
Agree. Tinned food is too salty, bulky, you need to carry empty tins until back in civilisation and their weight is an issue. As far as sharps bits, I double bag everything & check every couple of days for "blown" packets. We 4 wheel drive but like hikers, weight & volume are issues & the dehydrated food is just like being at home.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 07:19

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 07:19
I remember having a brain wave and buying tinned meals. LOL

I got some meat ball thing. When I ate it, I had to spit it out straight away and wash out my mouth several times to get rid of the taste. Errgh.

Having said that, I have got used to the taste of Spam and even like it by the end of some trips.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 08:12

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 08:12
Baked beans is a staple! lol
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 15:13

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 15:13
Some of the "chunky" tinned soups and meals are pretty good, as long as you heat them up. Like Heinz & Campbells......

But then I'm easily pleased. :-) Devoured some pretty horrible meals in stock camps years ago, before I got married.

Surprise peas 'n beans are pretty good and good jerky is addictive.

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 16:17

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 16:17
That might depend on what the "Surprise" is Bob!!
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Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 19:21

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 19:21
There's a range of soups now available that are in "stand-up packs" - effectively a prepacked soup in a vacuum package. They are great for colder days. Some of them (we've had pumpkin and ??? - substitute almost any veg for the ???) are also quite OK as a sauce, heated without adding more liquid. A slice of bread and there's a bloody god meal.
OR, if you're espiecially flush with cash, you can buy pre-packed dehydrated meals for the hiking/tramping fraternity. They are not exactly cheap, but compare quite well to the "real" thing.
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Reply By: howie - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 22:25

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 22:25
we survive easily for 4 weeks with a 40L fridge.
there is probably not room for complete meals in the fridge, that might be your problem.
we just vacuum the meat only.
long life milk, veggies wrapped in newspaper, tins of food in good old tins (beans,peas,tomatoes etc), rice and pasta (already dried LOL).
newspaper and boxes burnt on the fire, tins on the fire to burn out any remaining food and flattened with a hammer in the morning, then stored.
the more you eat, the more room you get.
bread made with dehydrated flour.
ham etc, usually bought in those heavily vacuumed very thin packets with 4 months use by date rather than those big bulky packets.
and room for a few beers.
apart from getting a bigger fridge, you might have to reconsider your meals and cook more as you go.
i have often took 'complete' meals on weekend or short trips, but it would be too much to fit in the fridge on long trips.
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Reply By: Member - meatman61 - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 23:05

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 23:05
Hi Roadrunner.
We use tins when we can on longer trips, and UHT milk, ect.
Just another thought, if you are going to be out where there are no food top-up places for that period of time, what about diesel? I reckon the vehicle will need a top-up also..., sooner or later.
Trev
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 23:40

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 23:40
Hi...no diesel would be used if you are not moving...but food would be.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 09:59

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 09:59
Have long range tank and not moving very much/often during the time so diesel is not an issue. Food however is required each day.
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Reply By: Member - abqaiq - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 07:41

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 07:41
Just curious!
To rehydrate the food the you need a lot of "heavy" water to replace that that you evaporated out earlier, so where is the weight savings? I can see that if you do not have adequate refrigeration then provided the fat does not go off ambient temperature water is fine for rehydrating but you still need that "heavy" water.

We prepare meals in Vac sealed bags complete, heat bag in boiling water and recycle/save the water.
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Follow Up By: Roadrunner_tlc - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 10:15

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 10:15
We will have access to a limited water supply (after treatment). For the rehydrating, you are right in you only replace what has been taken out but only at the time required for each meal. Each meal is a meat & vegetable (need to stay healthy & safe for the time) & additional water is not required for cooking purposes. We only use 500-700mls of water for all the washing up which helps greatly with water consumption.
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Follow Up By: tony_j - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 14:17

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 14:17
"To rehydrate the food the you need a lot of "heavy" water to replace". No not really - we take bottles of condensed water! :)
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Follow Up By: Dr Hook - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 13:28

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 13:28
tony_j: why not dehydrate the condensed water to save weight & space?
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Reply By: Member - abqaiq - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 20:29

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 20:29
Just a note : We have spent a lot of time in the Rub Al Khali where there is NO water and at the few outposts there are it costs 3 to 4 times are much as fuel per liter. So water management is very important to us.
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Reply By: Bazooka - Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 20:41

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 20:41
Can't provide any insight from experience Roadrunner (we dehydrate food occasionally for home use, totally different from your needs) but this site might help: http://www.wildbackpacker.com/backpacking-food/articles/freezedrying-dehydration/

Spanish jamon contains lots of fat. It's dried over a long period of time without turning rancid. Lots of salt used early in the process though.
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Reply By: GHThommo - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 14:26

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 14:26
Hi Roadrunner,

Try contacting:

DSTO Defence Nutrition Research Centre
74 George St
Scottsdale TAS 7260
Australia
+61 3 6352 2033

One of the food technologists there may be able to help you. They produce Freeze Dried (dehydrated) meals which are vacuum packed. Although the freeze drying process gives a far better and more stable product than the conventional hot air process I presume you use, they may have some data to help. Unfortunately I don't think they have a website to access. The storage life will be very dependent upon materials in which you are vacuum packing e.g. plastics bags vs laminates.

Cheers

Thommo
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 19:33

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 19:33
Freeze drying takes a whole lot more technology that simply dehydrating. The process is to freeze the food at normal atmospheric pressure, then reduce the pressure to below .06 atmospheres (0.06 times the "normal" pressure at sea level) at which pressure the solid water sublimes into vapour (ie transforms into steam without becoming liquid) with but a small temperature rise.

Full details are at [ http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/freeze-drying.htm ] and the following pages.
Not easy!
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 19:36

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 19:36
This is, in fact, the process used to create many of the "instant" coffees available. Unfortunately for us what like a decent coffee, they start with quite ordinary coffee, and the process does NOT enhance the flavour!
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