Meat, vegetables and fruit take up a lot of space, are heavy and don’t last very long. For us, they rarely ever made the cut for multi-day outdoor adventures—which is a shame because they are important parts of a healthy diet. Finding nutritious, lightweight snacks in stores that last without a fridge, don’t break the bank and aren’t processed or loaded with preservatives can be difficult. It was these factors that lead me to making my own.
I went out and purchased a dehydrator and started researching and experimenting with different recipes for some of my favourite hiking snacks. I quickly found that not only does making your own trail snacks taste better but it was also better for me (and for my wallet). Dehydrated snacks are my go-to on any outdoor adventure now.
I have adapted these recipes over time from ones that I found online. Every time I made them, I would slightly alter the ingredients to suit my tastes until I got it just right. Use these recipes as a base. Feel free to alter the sauces and spices to suit your taste buds. Have fun with experimenting! You really can’t go wrong.
*Note: Refer to your own dehydrator manual for settings and dry times specific to your machine.
ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO CHIPS
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 10 roma tomatoes
- 1 lemon
- Cracked black pepper
- Sea salt
- Thinly slice zucchini into 1/8” slices and transfer to a bowl.
- Squeeze lemon juice onto zucchini.
- Grind black pepper into bowl and toss zucchini to coat. (You want enough black pepper to lightly coat each piece.)
- Lay zucchini circles flat on your dehydrator trays, do not overlap. There should be enough for two trays.
- Cut roma tomatoes into 1/4” slices and transfer to a bowl.
- Sprinkle slices with oregano (enough to lightly coat each piece) and lightly salt. Toss gently.
- Lay tomato circles flat on your dehydrator trays, do no overlap. There should be enough for two trays.
- Dry at 130 F/54 C for 7 to 9 hours. Properly dried pieces will be brittle. Test using a cooled piece.
- Package into portion sizes of your choice, in air-tight containers (like ziplock bags) or vacuum seal. Store in a cool, dark and dry place.
TIP: Add these to your next pasta on the trail!
- 1-2 lbs beef roast (lean cuts are best)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons of natural hickory liquid smoke
- Thinly slice the roast. Cut off all visible fat.
- Pound slices with a meat tenderizer mallet until pieces are uniform thickness.
- Layer beef strips in dish.
- Mix remaining ingredients and pour the marinade over the beef. Lift and rotate layers with a fork to ensure that it is thoroughly covered.
- Cover and marinate for 12 to 36 hours. Turn strips over several times throughout the marinating period to ensure even coating.
- Spread the meat in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.
- Dry at 165 F/74 C for 6 to 10 hours, occasionally blotting off any fat droplets that appear on the surface. The jerky is properly dried when it cracks but doesn’t break when you bend it. Test using a cooled piece.
- Package jerky in individual portions into air-tight containers (like ziplock bags) or vacuum seal. Store in a cool, dark and dry place.
TIP: Cut with the grain for chewy jerky and cut against the grain for tender but brittle pieces. Partially freezing the meat makes it easier to cut and helps in getting thin, even pieces. Ideally, you want a lean cut of meat as free from fat as possible. The more fat, the shorter the storage life of your jerky. Cut any fat off as you slice it.
- 2 cups rhubarb, diced and cooked. Note: Place diced rhubarb into a pot with enough water to cover it. Cook on medium until soft. Pour everything into the processor (water included).
- 3 cups strawberries, diced
- 1/4 cup honey
BLUEBERRY CHIA BANANA
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 small, ripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup chia seeds
- 5-10 dates, pitted
- 2 cups raspberries
- 3 peaches, pitted and diced
- 1/4 cup honey
*These recipes fill two trays in our dehydrator. I like to do two kinds at a time and vacuum seal variety packs for the trail. To fill our four-tray dehydrator completely, we need about 6 to 8 cups of pureed fruit. Depending on your dehydrator, this could vary.
** You will want to pick fruit that is ripe or even slightly overripe.
- Wash, peel and remove any stems or pits. (Except for bananas, pineapples, oranges, lemons, etc, leave the skin on, as it is highly nutritious.)
- Put all ingredients into a processor and blend until smooth. *Optional: add sweetener. If the fruit chosen isn't tart, we skip the sweetener. The amount of sweetener is personal preference so adjust to your liking.
- Optional: If you preheat the mixture in a pot before putting it in the dehydrator, it speeds up the drying time. Just dump the blended mixture into a pot and heat on medium for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Line trays with plastic wrap or wax paper. Spread onto dehydrated trays. Since the sides dry quicker, make the puree thicker around the edges, approximately 1/4” inch and 1/8” at the center.
- Dry at 145 F/63 C for 6 to 8 hours. Another way to speed up drying time is to check after a few hours and remove the wrap/paper when it has dried enough. When they are dried, they will be a little bit shiny and non-sticky to the touch. Allow it to cool before removing them from the trays.
- Roll the leather into a tight roll and with a sharp knife, cut into a length of your choice. Wrap pieces with saran wrap, put in air-tight containers (like ziplock bags) or vacuum seal. Store in a cool, dark and dry place.
TIP: Using these recipes as a guide, try other flavours: Apricot (apricots and sweetener of choice), Strawberry Lemonade (strawberries, lemons, honey), Apple Cinnamon (apples, honey, cinnamon), PB and Jam (3 cups of strawberries and 1 cup of your favourite nut butter). The flavour combinations are endless!
Do you make your own snacks to fuel your outdoor adventures?
Tell us about it!
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