I knew you could truly get any food in a can when I saw the quail eggs on the shelf. In a can. Next to the canned crab paste, sardines, mackerel, fried catfish, clams, roasted eel, squid, pork meat, corned beef, pork liver paste and pork mince with mushrooms, among other delicacies.
I like to think I’m an adventurous eater but even I was squirming in the aisle of my local Asian grocer’s. Luckily, I didn’t want any of these foods in a can at all so they stayed right where they were on the shelf. I was searching for dried or vaccuum-packed forms of meat, trying to solve a dilemma that’s come up since Dan and I started planning for a couple of hiking and camping trips. What light-weight, fridge-free protein can two people, one lactose-intolerant and one mushroom-phobic, take on a hiking trip?
Without refrigeration or space to carry used cans, tuna in sachets is great (and I scored a heap for $1 each the other day – woo!) but surely there are other options. I’m looking into dried lentils and beans but worry they’ll take ages to cook and won’t replenish us carnivores quite enough.
On this weekend’s trip to Joanna Beach, part of the Great Ocean Walk, we’re only going to be camping away from the car for one night – its our first little practice trip – but on longer hikes we’ll need to carry lots of food. Lightweight carbohydrate options are easy – pasta, rice, noodles and the amazingly substantial “Deb” dried mashed potato. Mountain bread or long-life wraps serve as carbs for lunch and muesli bars for breakfast.
I’m trying to accept we’ll have to survive on only dried fruit and very few vegetables which won’t kill us for a couple of days.
But variety of protein is so far posing a problem. Long-life tofu, long-life cheese, vaccuum-packed Chinese sausages, dried bean-curd skin and dried eggs are some ingredients I plan to experiment with in the coming weeks.
Our planned dinner for this Saturday night is entirely dried or vaccuum-packed and weighs in at just under 700grams for two people, including an optional side-dish. I’m proud.
I’m excited to get back into hiking which I haven’t really done in a hardcore, independent capacity since the glory days of high school outdoor education (hiking the Himalaya in India and the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu in Peru, both with porters, was adventurous and challenging but far too luxurious to count here). I’m pretty grateful for the outdoor ed camps and programs I did in years 9 and 10 because we really did learn lots of handy tricks like how to use a Trangia stove, waterproofing your gear, distributing weight around your pack, menu planning and the glorious art of scroggin making, among other skills.
It’s quite incredible really that one of the main reasons we decided to get into hiking was because it is a very affordable form of adventure – but so far we’ve spent about $1000 and the trip hasn’t even started! Of course most of this money has gone towards investment into gear that will last us many many trips but it’s all just a bit of a shock. I am rediscovering the pants, boots and pack I haven’t used in a couple of years, while Dan has a brand new pack, pair of boots, set of pants and sleeping bag. We’ve also bought a compass, a couple of hardcore Nalgene drink bottles (the best kind out there – but none of the chain brands stock them so we had to order them online) and a tiny lightweight hiking tent!
Light-weight, dehydrated, pre-packaged food does tend to be pricey so that’s a slight issue I’m overcoming (although of course its nothing compared to the restaurants we’d be tempted by if we were staying in a town!).
So far its looking like we’ll be eating a lot of tuna sachets, a few of salmon just to mix it up, some lentils and beans, and maybe a bit of tofu.
Do you have any ideas for us of great fridge-free protein? What have you eaten on hiking and camping trips?