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Backpacker-Friendly Noodles

Noodles are easy-prep crowd pleasers. Learn about the trail-worthiest types and cooking methods.
Use Less Cooking Techniques Best-bet noodle Tip
Water Rather than following package directions, add only enough water to fully cover your noodles. Heat to a rolling boil (stirring and adding a spoonful of water at a time, if necessary, to prevent burning and sticking). Check to see if the pasta is done at the package-recommended cooking time, and continue to cook (stirring frequently) until al dente. Small, nesting shapes require less water for full immersion; try orzo, macaroni, rotini, or bowties in lieu of spaghetti strands. Don’t discard the precious cooking liquid; use the starchy leftover water as the base for powdered sauce mixes or for cooking oatmeal.
Fuel Add noodles to a pot of cool water (you’ll be boiling it, so you can use treated or untreated water); the liquid should cover the noodles. Stir occasionally as you bring the water to a boil. When the water is rolling, remove the pot from heat, put a lid on it, and soak noodles for 20 to 25 minutes until al dente. Cold day? Wrap the pot in insulating extra clothing while noodles soak. Use standard or thin spaghetti; thicker noodles (like rigatoni or penne) take longer to cook, and will stick together if not stirred. Resist the urge to check cooking progress until noodles have soaked for 20 minutes; lifting the lid allows heat to escape.
Water and fuel Three hours before your meal: Add water to a densely packed zip-top bag of noodles (enough to coat them, ²/³ to 1 cup for a 1-quart bag). Let them soak while you hike. At mealtime: Add a few tablespoons of water (to cover a pan’s base) and heat while stirring; noodles should cook to completion in 60 seconds. Soaking diminishes wheat noodles’ nutty flavor; use rice noodles or flavored wheat varieties. Avoid spills; double-bag your soaking pasta or seal it in a watertight bottle instead.


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