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Does anyone know how to preserve meals like they do for Rat Packs/ MRE's? Answered

I am looking to go hiking for 10 days, but am not completely enthralled with my options for food. The rest of my team have either gone for the dried option or have gotten themselves Rat Packs. Dried is really boring, and the Rat Packs.... only about 2 of the menus are edible. I know that if I make the meals myself, they would taste a heck of a lot better. My problem is with preserving agents.

So, if I wanted to make my own type of ready meal that could withstand 30 degrees C+ during the day, survive a 3 week boat trip and train journey before being used, how would i go about doing it?



Best Answer 9 years ago

MREs are specially formulated not only to last a long. long time, but to give minimal basic nutrition in a combat environment. That means there is a lot of "stuff" in there (extra vitamins, minerals, high tech preservatives, etc.) which will be absent from regular food; they are likely irradiated during the manufacturing process to kill any stray bacteria. MREs are also formulated such that the person who eats them passes minimal waste. This is why one should never let a pet eat an MRE: it can actually kill the animal.

That being said, do not despair! There are other ways to preserve food for long periods. The Romans used a particular preservative to keep their meat from spoiling: it is called "salt." The main thing to keep in mind is that air and moisture are the enemies of fresh food and will soon spoil whatever food they come in contact with.

Many foods can be preserved well using a food dehydrator, or go low tech and use an oven set for 160-170 Fahrenheit; drying times will vary. I like to use vacuum sealed plastic bags (our family uses a FoodSaver VAC750, and we've had good luck with it). This method works for many foods and will preserve them for at least 7-10 days in temperate climes if kept out of direct sunlight. Not sure about longer periods, as our vacations (sadly) never last much longer than that!

I've made my own beef jerky in this manner: get a butcher to slice top round steak into 1/4 inch slices, marinade in a soy sauce (high salt content) solution for at least several hours or overnight (better). Arrange meat on baking sheets and sprinkle with garlic/onion/pepper powder or other seasonings of your choice, place in a preheated oven at 160-170 degrees F (you can open the door a crack if your oven settings do not go quite that low) and bake for 8-10 hours. Remove and place jerky on cooling racks. Then vacuum seal in bags and you're all set.

Good luck!

Most MREs have from 2000-3000 calories. And the gum is a laxative, to loosen your bowels after the horror of Jesus Bread. A good survival tool, but nearly impossible to dupe on your own.

You can make some good food from dried supplies. For example, you can mix the dry ingredients for bread in a bag and cook it on the trail over some hot coals.

The flexible pouches in MREs are basically "canned" foods. The only way a home consumer would come close would be mason jar canned foods. Obviously you wouldn't want to carry glass jars on a backpacking trip. Honestly I wouldn't risk trying to can something like that. It only takes a little botulism to kill you and even just having the squirts can ruin a canoe trip. MREs only cost 8 bucks per meal, and you can get them even cheaper on Ebay. (although they are stolen US GOV Property) and they provide 1200-1500 calories per meal.