‘Cold-Prep’ Camp Food

The quest for camping food that is simple to make just moved a notch.
With its new Chicken Salad product, Mountain House offers campers and
backpackers a freeze-dried meal that requires nothing more than cold
water and a short wait.

Until now, most all freeze-dried food companies recommended hot or
boiling water for the reconstitution of “instant” camp food. But with
its Chicken Salad product, which costs $6.50 a pack, Mountain House
(www.mountainhouse.com) has formulated a mixture that necessitates no
heat.

Add a small dose of cold water to the powdery mix and stir. Let it sit
for about 10 minutes. Presto, your meal is ready to eat.

I tried the Chicken Salad out this summer on flat bread. The company
uses white chicken meat and a mix of ingredients including
cranberries, pumpkin seeds, corn starch, onion bits, vinegar, chives,
and sugar. The result is a chicken salad that’s palatable, though not
delicious.

Honestly, I like other Mountain House meals much more than its chicken
salad. The company’s Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Teriyaki with Rice
meals are almost eat-at-home good. In the wilderness, they are simple
to make, though you do need to heat water to pour into the bags.

When you’re on the move and not wanting to stop and fire up a stove,
the Chicken Salad mix is a good alternative. With about 500 calories
per pack, the chicken is enough to split between two adults on a hike.

As an aside, even though freeze-dried food companies often recommend
against it, I have used cold water for years on “hot water” foods. The
process is longer — you often need to wait 45 minutes or more for the
water to soak in and make the food palatable. But as a shortcut, the
cold-water method can work in a jam.

Overall, Mountain House makes great camp-meal products. Take the
cold-prep Chicken Salad if you’re going fast and need to refuel
without a fuss. Otherwise, heat some water and take a few minutes to
let the instant meal “cook.” In the backcountry, with a warm spoonful
of stew or soup in your hand, you’ll be happy you took the extra time.

–Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.
Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via
@TheGearJunkie.

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