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The new soft-packs of moisture-reduced tuna and chicken soft-packs are a big improvement over the canned versions.  They reduce the weight of an already  low-cost, efficient ratio of protein to weight, and eliminate the need to pack out empty cans. 

For lunch on a recent backpacking trip we each had one-half of a 7.06 oz pack of "StarKist Tuna in Water" with fresh mayonnaise (mixed in the package) served on pita bread. We packed extra tuna because it did not seem like a very big serving, but a half-pack each was enough. 

For dinner we had "Betty Crocker Four Cheese Chicken Helper" with four 7 oz packs of "Valley Fresh Premium Chunk White Chicken." This was about twice the chicken called for in the directions. At the time it seemed like one package of Chicken Helper would not be enough for two hungry adults and two hungry Scouts, so rather than doubling Chicken Helper, we doubled the chicken. This was a big mistake, it was simply too much food. We tried to eat it all so that the leftovers would not tempt the bears, but we still ended up wasting a lot. 

We figure next time one box of Chicken Helper with two 7 oz packs of chicken will feed three to four people. Since it is lightweight, we will bring more, but not cook it unless people are still hungry. 

Saturday and Sunday breakfasts can be individual servings of instant oatmeal. We sometimes pack about twice as much as we need, but two servings each is plenty. 

My first experiment with home-made dehydrated food was "Appalachian Trail Jerky" from Lipsmakin' Backpackin' by Tim and Christine Conners, available in many Scout Shops. Three of us found it to be highly addictive, and we finished off 12 servings (200 calories / 22g of protein per serving) in three days which may account for why the seemingly small portions of the other food went so far. 

To make it, I purchased three pounds of "boneless beef bottom round roast," put it in the freezer long enough for it to partially freeze, then cut it into thin strips. There was more marbled fat in the meat than I expected, so I kept the final dried beef jerky frozen until the day of the backpacking trip. 

Cutting around all of the fat took a LONG time. Next time I will purchase thick-cut round streaks instead. I let the meat soak in the marinade in a refrigerator for two days, and dried it in a stacked food drier for three days. This was probably one day too long in the drier because it came out brittle rather than leathery. I tripled the marinade recipe, below, so that it would completely cover the meat. I also added two tablespoons of molasses because I only had light brown sugar on hand. 

After two days all of the marinade had all soaked into the meat, leaving no excess liquid. This meant that the pepper was three times the amount called for in the recipe. This was too hot for one of the Scouts. He preferred the expensive commercial "Carson's Beef Nuggets," which he had all to himself because the rest of us proffered the Appalachian Trail Jerky.

Appalachian Trail Jerky 

from Lipsmakin' Backpackin' by Tim and Christine Conners 

Total weight: 12 ounces Weight per serving: 1 ounce Total servings: 12 

2 pounds flank steak Marinade: 

bullet 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce 
bullet 2 tablespoons liquid smoke 
bullet 1/4 cup low-salt soy sauce 
bullet 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce 
bullet 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
bullet 2 teaspoons pepper 
bullet 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper 
bullet 2 tablespoons brown sugar 

At home: 

Trim fat from steak and slice with grain into 1/4 X 1 1/2 inch strips. 

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. 

Add beef strips and stir, making sure sauce covers meat. 

Cover with plastic and marinate overnight. T

he next day, place meat strips flat on two large cookie sheets. 

Bake in a 150 degree oven for about 10 to 12 hours. 

Pack in a sealed container or bag.

Lipsmakin' Backpackin' 
by Tim and Christine Conners 






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.