As happens periodically, I’ve reached a point where freeze-dried food (though a vast improvement over the 80s versions) is starting to all taste like sawdust. So, for a while, I’m thinking of preparing some simple meals using one of the Knorr side dishes (pasta or rice) with a pouch of chicken, tuna, or salmon added.
I haven’t used those side dishes since the early 2000’s, and there seems to be a much greater variety available now. So, for any of you who use them, I’ve got a few questions:
1. How easy are they to prepare in the backcountry? (I’m thinking of using a white gas stove, the Whisperlite, which I can get to simmer by not overpressurizing the bottle.)
2. Some of them call for adding milk. Obviously, I’ll not be carrying milk, but I was wondering if you could simply add powdered milk to the pouch contents, then add the water called for in the instructions plus the water needed to rehydrate the powdered milk, and bring it to a boil as called for in the instructions.
3. The instructions seem to specify using a 2-quart pot, but you end up only adding a cup or so of liquid to the contents of the pack. I’m thinking a 1 quart pot would work just as well - or do you need the broader area for the ingredients to be shallow for cooking?
4. What type of cook wear do you use for this type of cooking? Popular wisdom has it that titanium scorches too easily when you try to actually cook in it. I still have a stainless steel pot that I could use, if it works better. I’m not really interested in aluminum or non-stick cookware.
Glen, I use Knorr Sides a lot for my longer trips. I generally go solo so I only take about half to two thirds of a pouch and add freeze dried meat to it. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the amount of water to your liking. I started making them on the soupy side and reduced from there. The rice sides can be cooked freezer-bag style but the pasta sides are better cooked and simmered in a pot, unless you like crunchy pasta. Here you risk a potentially scorched pot bottom. I take a 2-cup screw-top plastic storage container and use that instead of freezer bags for rehydrating. It weighs less than 4 freezer bags. I cook in either a small IMUSA cup or in a MSR Titan Kettle (the larger of the two). I use a Snow Peak Giga stove which sorta simmers.
I use very little in the way of commercial backpacking food. I prefer the roll-your-own approach cause it's cheaper and more varied. Sometimes the variety ranges from good to bad but that's life.
For those that call for milk I either ignore it or use Nido dried whole milk. Again, a bit of experimenting is in order here.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd suggest getting a few and trying them out at home! That should resolve your questions, including if you find the results edible! I find the Knorr stuff far too salty, but I am used to a low-salt diet at home.
With dried milk, be sure to mix it thoroughly in cold water before using. If any lumps are left, they will get worse during cooking.
I suspect the reason for the larger pot is to prevent boiling over when cooking noodles. But you'll find out in your home trials!
Edited by OregonMouse (11/11/1702:33 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Loc: Portland, OR
1. They're easy, if you can simmer them a bit. Adding boiling water and using a cozy doesn't quite do the trick.
2. Powdered instant milk works fine with them.
3. Note: I use a 2 qt. pot because that's my setup, so I can't answer from direct experience. I suspect a very deep and narrow pot would make stirring difficult, especially if the contents of the pot come nearly to the top. As far as the actual cooking goes, I don't think it would make much difference.
4. I use an Open Country 2 qt. uncoated aluminum pot with a wire bail handle. Stirring is the best antidote for scorching. See answer 3 for further thoughts on stirring.
Other thoughts. The Knorr Sides are cheap enough you could try a few at home and decide if they adapt well to your normal cooking setup and they taste good enough to enjoy. They work fine for me, but YMMV.