Canoe Packs and Canoe Paddles

Dehydrated Coleslaw


Portaging the Canoe - A Rite of Passage - Algonquin Provincial Park



When planning the menu for a canoe trip or a backpacking trip, the 2 things you probably worry about the most are preserving the food so it doesn't spoil without being refrigerated and keeping the weight down so that you don't break your back carrying it all. The good news is that most vegetables and even a lot of fruits don't really need to be refrigerated, at least not for short trips. On the other hand, for longer trips, the weight is still an issue which is where dehydrating coleslaw comes in handy.


The Recipe

Ready to dehydrate the coleslawFor this experiment, I tried out the Packer's Cole Slaw recipe from Backpacker magazine. I had seen a few recommendations for this recipe both for having a good flavour and for dehydrating and rehydrating well. Other recipes should work too, just make sure you stick to a vinegar based coleslaw dressing rather than a creamy one. The creamy coleslaw dressings will have too much oil in them to be preserved by dehydrating. Coleslaw on fruit tray ready to dehydrate


Since this was the first time we were trying this coleslaw recipe, we mixed it up following the recipe and then tested it with dinner at home after it had marinated. Once it passed the pre-dehydration taste test, then I went on to dehydrating it.


Dehydrating at Home

Coleslaw on a screen tray ready to dehydrateWDehydrator set to 135F/57C to dehydrate the coleslawhen it came time to dehydrate the coleslaw, the question I had was whether to drain it first and dry it on a screen tray or to spread it out with the liquid on a fruit tray. The feedback I got was that folks generally use the screen tray to dry it and a caution that the liquid wouldn't dry well and will likely turn out goopy (which sounded like the Dehydrated Coleslawvoice of experience to me). Well, since I was in experimental mode anyway, I split the remaining coleslaw half and half between a screen tray and a fruit tray, set the dehydrator at 135°F/57°C, which is the recommended temperature for dehydrating "Fruits & Vegetables", and let it run overnight. In the end both approaches seem to have dried just fine, although the coleslaw on the screen tray certainly took a lot less time to dehydrate fully.


Preparing at Camp

Starting to rehydrate the coleslawAll you need to prepare the coleslaw at camp is a bit of time and clean treated water. The suggested serving size is about 1/3 cup of dried coleslaw per person and to rehydrate it you add an equal amount of water - so 1/3 cup coleslaw plus 1/3 cup of water. Since you won't be boiling the coleslaw or cooking it in any way make sure you use clean treated water whether that is filtered or Rehydrated coleslaw after 30 minuteschemically treated, for example with Pristine.


The recipe said to give it at least half an hour to rehydrate and the coleslaw was softened up enough to eat at that point but it was still pretty watery. We gave it a taste test and then let it rehydrate for another 30 minutes. After an hour it had soaked up a lot more of the water, so if you have the time or especially if it's a bit colder out, I would Rehydrated coleslaw after 1 hoursuggest starting the rehydrating at least an hour before you want to eat.


The verdict of the taste tes was that it tasted just fine. A little on the sweet side and it seemed to have lost most of the vinegar taste but definitely worth taking on a trip. I think I'll also try packing just a little bit of vinegar to add when rehydrating the coleslaw.

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