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The Great Gorp Contest

From "good old raisins and peanuts" to trail mixes spiced with hot peppers, Michigan cherries, beer nuts, and dried carrots, the ultimate backwoods snack comes your way, courtesy of Backpacker readers.

Most Exotic

Golden Gorp Nuggets

Chef: DeeDee Grafius,

Modesto, California

“Good, healthy food you can get your hands on quickly.” That’s DeeDee Grafius’s humble opinion of her gorp recipe. An all-seasons, all-conditions backpacker, Grafius (right) makes sure her trail mix can stand up to backcountry life. “I like to scramble and get off the trail. It’s much easier to grab a few nuggets than a handful of loose nuts and fruits. Plus, when it’s cold and I have gloves on, I can handle it easier without spilling.” Our testers loved the “unique combination of wheaty and sweet, with a hint of date.”

  • 1 cup salted toasted soy nuts
  • 1 cup crisp rice cereal (found in health-food stores; not Rice Krispies cereal)
  • 1 cup Glad Corn (available from G.E.F. Inc., 800-692-6762; www.gladcorn.com) or dried sweet corn
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup date nuggets
  • 3/4 cup barley malt (a sweetener found in health-food stores)
  • 1/2 cup fruit source (a sweetener found in health-food stores)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss together soy nuts, crisp rice, corn, sunflower seeds, cranberries, and date nuggets and set aside. Pour barley malt, fruit source, and peanut butter into a saucepan and boil until the mixture is hot and foamy, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the syrup over the seed, grain, and fruit mixture, and mix well. Press onto a greased cookie sheet with a wet glass used as a rolling pin. Bake until the mixture bubbles, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let it cool in the pan until cool enough to handle, then pull the mixture into nuggets or cut into bars. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator until your trip. Yield: 6 cups.

Most Basic

M&M’s—Straight Up

Chef: Pat Villeneuve,
Tempe, Arizona

Why mess up a good thing with a lot of extraneous ingredients? That’s Pat Villeneuve’s mantra. “I perfected this recipe while hiking the Appalachian Trail: Pour the contents of a large bag of M&M’s into a zipper-lock bag. Stir to distribute colors. Enjoy!”

Lightest Weight

Wafer Gorp

Chef: Chris Lancaster,

Brighton, Tennessee

Some folks find that chocolate and other candy make traditional gorps too sweet. To them, we say: Try Wafer Gorp. “It has a healthy, veggielike taste with plenty of crunch, and just a touch of sweetness provided by the restrained dose of M&M’s and the yummy vanilla wafers,” said one tester. An added bonus: This gorp is featherweight.

  • 1 1/2 ounces raisins
  • 2 tablespoons M&M’s
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower seeds
  • 4 tablespoons Cheerios cereal
  • 2 to 4 dried apples
  • 1 tablespoon dried sweet cherries
  • 1 tablespoon dried carrots
  • 4 or 5 vanilla wafers

Mix ingredients in a quart-size

zipper-lock bag. Yield: 2 cups.

Gourmet Taste

Super Glorious Gorp

Chef: Patricia Armstrong,

Naperville, Illinois

“Gorp as I make it,” explains Patricia Armstrong, “combines three basic types of ingredients in a confusing array of varieties and binds them together with a chocolaty matrix. Here’s how:

  • Use a total of 2 cups cereal grains by picking three or four of the following: wheat germ, rolled oats, Grape Nuts, bran buds, bircher muesli, granola.
  • Use a total of 21/2 cups dried fruit by picking three or four of the following: orange peel, cherries, raisins, apricots, pears, figs, apples, bananas, cranberries, peaches, dates.
  • Use a total of 3 cups chopped nuts and seeds by picking three or four of the following: coconut, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, filberts, leche nuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, chestnuts, sesame seeds, pecans, hickory nuts.
  • Use a total of 42 ounces chips plus
  • 1 tablespoon syrup from the following: semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, honey, molasses.

Our testers thought the cranberry option (below) was a winner. “I love the crunchies inside the chocolate bar. It’s like a new experience with each bite,” raved one tester. It’s best for cooler trips so it doesn’t experience meltdown.

Super Glorious Cranberry Gorp

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup hickory nuts or cashews
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried apples
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup Grape Nuts or bran buds cereal
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 18 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

Chop nuts and dried fruit and place in a large dish. Add coconut, oats, wheat germ, Grape Nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and mix well. Melt chips and molasses in a double boiler, then pour over mixture. Mix well and press into a cookie sheet. Cool and cut into 2-by-4-inch chunks. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil; freeze or store until ready to use. Yield: 9 squares.

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1 Comment

  1. Julia Childs, Desolate places, and Mark 6 | Beyond a Ruled Page

    […] The circumstances are even more crucial. They are in the middle of nowhere, yet need access to a substantial amount of basic food staples, just for themselves. These grown men sat there exposed to nature, after having burned calories operating a boat. I’m surprised they had five loaves and two fish left as a snack. Maybe these were just the less desirable staples; maybe someone had already hammered through their first-century GORP! […]

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