Backcountry Cooking Recipes and Techniques


Dehydrating Food

We highly recommend getting a dehydrator if you are going to spend a significant amount of time canoe tripping or backpacking.  We use the Excalibur 3900.  Check out this post about it. has all the information you need to become a dehydrating master.  

Spanish Rice


2lbs ground beef
olive oil
1 onion, diced
1.5 cups white rice (uncooked)
3/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup water


Brown the ground beef in a large pan, strain in a fine sieve and then pour boiling water over the meat to remove any fat.  I usually do a couple of boiling water rinses. You want to remove the fat otherwise it can go rancid.
Saute the onions in olive oil until soft.
Add the rice and cook until lightly brown (keep an eye on it and stir frequently).  
Add the ground beef, spices, tomatoes and water and bring to a boil.  
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, but the rice is not fully softened* (about 15-20 minutes).
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once the dish has cooled a bit spread it out on dehydrator trays.  Be sure to measure and write down the volume of the food.  I typically spread the food out on trays in 2 cup increments.  I write the total volume on a sticky note and place it on top of the dehydrator.

Dehydrate on the meat setting until it is thoroughly dry.  Once dry, place in a ziploc bag along with the sticky note.

To rehydrate add boiling water to bring the contents back to a bit less than the original content.  I have found that if I add enough water to bring the contents back to the original volume this ends up soupy.  Basically I add enough water to cover everything, let that absorb, add more water, let that absorb, etc. until everything is rehydrated but not soupy.  

This feeds our family of 7 as a full meal.  It is great served with shredded cheddar cheese on top.  It can also be served on tortillas with cheese.

*Beef takes longer to rehydrate than rice.  If you fully cook the rice, then it will turn mushy while the beef rehydrates.

Serves: 8

REcipe: Dehydrator Hummus


1 can chick peas (540ml) drained and rinsed
4-5 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil


Place all ingredients into a food processor or blend.  Mix until smooth (you’ll end up with about 2 cups). 

Measure out how much you think you will eat in one sitting (I usually do 1 cup increments, but there are a lot of us), write this on a sticky note, and then spread the hummus out in a thin layer on a lined dehydrator tray.  Continue until you’ve used up all the hummus. 

Dehydrate until it is thoroughly dry (4-6 hours).  It will be cracked and crumble apart easily when touched. 

Once dry, seal in a Ziploc bag (don’t forget to add the sticky note) and label it.

To rehydrate, add enough cold water to bring the contents back to the original volume and stir until water is absorbed.  Alternatively, if you want to save on dishes you can add a bit of water to the bag, seal it and squish it around to mix it.  Keep adding water and mixing it until it reaches the consistency you want.   


Recipe: Not Before Bed Bars

These bars were inspired by David Leite’s Cappuccino Larabar recipe ( made these for us coffee loving parents.  They are great if you need a quick energy boost, but make sure you don’t eat them too late in the day!


1 ½ cups pitted medjool dates

A bit of coffee to soften the dates (optional)

1 cup almonds or almond flour

1-2 tbsp coffee beans

A handful of chocolate chips (optional)

vanilla extract (I just put a splash in)

A couple shakes of sea salt


If the dates you are using are very moist then you can use them as is, otherwise soak them in hot water for 5-10 minutes to soften them up and then drain them, or add warm water until you get the right consistency when processing them in the food processor.  When I made these the dates were a bit dry when I processed them, but instead of adding water I added a bit of coffee to get the right consistency.

Place the almonds in the food processor and grind them up.  You can leave them a bit chunky if you want, or process them until they are a finely chopped.  I was short on almonds when I made these, but had almond flour on hand so I added some of it and it worked out well.

Add the coffee beans and pulse until they are ground up too.

Add the dates, vanilla, and salt and pulse until the mixture begins to bind together.  If the mixture appears too dry at this point add warm water or coffee a few tablespoons at a time to moisten things up.

Add the chocolate chips (if using) and pulse a few times incorporate.

Line an 8x8 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  Transfer the mixture to the pan and flatten it out.  I have two 8x8 inch pans, so I usually put the mixture in one pan, place a piece of parchment paper over it and then press it down with the second pan. 

At this point I cut the bars out and dehydrate them in my dehydrator for a few hours to dry them out a bit, but this isn’t necessary.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, or if the mixture is too soft to cut, refrigerate them to firm them up a bit (15-30 minutes) and then cut the bars.

I usually wrap 4-6 bars together in a stack, placing parchment paper between them so they don’t stick together.

Hudson Bay Bread

We first came across Hudson Bay Bread in Cliff Jacobson's Expedition Canoeing.  You can find several variations for this "bread" (really it's more of a granola bar) on the internet.  Here is our version.


2 cups butter, softened (may need up to ½ cup extra) 
2-4 cups sugar (the original recipe called for 4 cups of sugar, but since we don’t like to eat a lot of refined sugars, I have been known to cut this back to 2 cups)
1/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup honey 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
2 cups chocolate chips
shredded coconut (optional)
19 cups finely ground rolled oats (appr 2 kg – I use my food processor to grind them up)


Cream together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Gradually stir in the remaining ingredients. At this point if the mixture seems too dry and isn’t sticking together well I add in more butter.  The mixture will be a bit dry, but should stick together if you press it into a ball.  I also give taste it and add more vanilla or sugar if I think it needs it.

Press the mixture into a wide rimmed cookie sheet or cake pan lined with parchment paper; it should be ¼ to ½ inch thick. 

Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Being careful not to overcook. 

Remove from the oven and press down with a spatula (I find cover the bars with parchment paper keeps them from sticking to the spatula).  This step is very important because it is what keeps the bars from crumbling when you cut them.  I have several cookie sheets that are the same size, so I actually put parchment paper on top of the bars, place another cookie sheet on top and press down really hard all over the cookie sheet rather than using the spatula method.

Allow the bars to cool for a few minutes and then cut into squares.

Once the bars have cooled, I stack them in groups of 7 (one for each family member) and then wrap them in plastic wrap.

These will last for at least an entire summer.  They also freeze well, so you can make them several months in advance.

Pecan Johnny Cakes

Auntie Lisa came across this recipe, although we're not sure where it's from.  We've been using it for years.

About 4 servings


1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp buttermilk powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil (we use coconut)
1 egg
1/2 cup water

At Home:
  Pack all dry ingredients into a large plastic freezer bag.  Remember to include the oil and egg in with your other food supplies.

At Camp:  Add the oil, water, and egg to the freezer bag.  Close the bag and mix until all ingredients are wet (this is a great job for a little person).  Allow the batter to rest 5 minutes.  Add a bit of oil to a fry pan and heat over medium.  Cut one of the bottom corners off of the freezer bag.  Squeeze 4-inch circles of batter into the pan; cook for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.  

These cakes are quite versatile.  They can be served with chili, soup, or stew, spread with peanut butter, jam, or Nutella, or topped with butter and syrup for hearty pancakes.

Dehydrated Jamie Oliver Beef and Ale Stew

At home I love making this stew and I have found that it’s also great to dehydrate for tripping.

I make the recipe as outlined, but once it’s all done I remove the meat, shred it using my KitchenAid Mixer (i.e. spin it around in the mixer with the paddle attachment for a minute or two) and then dehydrate the meat separate from the sauce.  If you don’t have a mixer you can shred the meat using a fork.  This just takes a little longer.

The meat takes a little bit longer to rehydrate than the sauce, so I usually start it an hour or two before I start the sauce.