12 Days of Trail Gifts for Under $50, Day 10

Gift 10: Dry it, You’ll Like It!

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Chowing down on some home-dried strawberries on the Japhy Ryder Route


Dried peaches on the trail can make even the cruddiest days brighter


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Tomatoes from my garden dried up nicely & brought me back home with each bite.

Food Dehydrators are a wonderful tool that allow a hiker to bring their favorite fruits, jerky’s, and soups into the backcountry with them in a light weight package. I mostly use my dehydrator for fruit, but have experimented with a few soup recipes and beef jerky. It’s very rare for me to bring actual apples or tomatoes on the trail, but when they are dried, 4 or 5 full fruits fit into a little ziplock baggie & I will eat them every day.

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Drying Strawberries in my simple food dehydrator

Food Dehydrators range in price all over the place, some are under $50 and fit well within the theme of this blog series, and others can get quite pricey. I purchased a very simple food dehydrator with only a heating element off of Craigslist for $20 and it has served me well. A friend of mine has an amazing dehydrator with internal convection and a thermometer that may have cost a bit more. His drys fruit in about 8 hours while mine can take 30 hours. Think about what you or your hiker might want & base your choice of dehydrator off of that. If your hiker likes simple, quite things, maybe a heating element style like mine would be best. If your hiker likes convenience, control (temperature & timer settings), & doesn’t mind motors & sound, then a convection style would be the way to go. Mother Earth has a great article on selecting a dehydrator.

IMG_7630My favorite dehydrator recipe book is Dry It, You’ll Like It by Gen Macmaniman. This little book is fun with a handwritten font and great ideas for making tasty dehydrated treats like apple berry fruit leathers and chia-fruit wafers.

You can always use your oven as a dehydrator & make some food for your hiker without any extra equipment. Set your oven on it’s lowest setting (hopefully less than 200’F) and place your fruit leathers, soups, or sliced fruits on parchment paper & cookie sheets. Check every 20 minutes or so to make sure things are going alright, and you may want to flip fruit pieces as they dry.

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Dehydrators let a garden loving hiker bring homegrown taste into the backcountry with them.

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Dried zucchini & squash can transform mac-n-cheese to a delicious backcountry hot dish

I hope you and your hiker enjoy drying up freshies as much as I do. I love gardening almost as much as I like hiking, so it is extra special to be able to bring some of the things I have grown out on the trail with me.

Happy trail snack making!