SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Trail Chef: Send Us Your Backcountry Cooking Secrets

Plus: 10 time-saving tips from the pros

Readertip
Readertip

Do you have a quick-and-easy, handy-dandy trick for making camp meals taste better, cook faster, clean up more easily, or weigh less? Tell us! We’ll pick the best ones and run them in our January Readers’ Choice issue. Here are 10 secrets from our own chefs to get you started.

1. Add the right amount of spices—but without packing teaspoons—using these “rules of thumb”:
  • 1/8 teaspoon = one-finger-and-thumb pinch
  • 1 teaspoon = three-fingers-and-thumb pinch
  • 1 tablespoon = four-fingers-and-thumb pinch
  • ½ cup = 1 palmful

2. Brew cowboy coffee. Stir grounds into hot water; let it stand a few minutes. Grasp the kettle by the handle and swing your arm—fast—in a windmill motion for five or six full circles (like a softball pitcher winding up). To settle the grounds, tap the sides of the kettle and add a few drops of cold water. 

3. Choose the right cheese. Hard cheeses (like cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, and Gouda) stay fresh about one week in temps of 40°F to 70°F. Semisoft (Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Havarti, Muenster) last about four days. Meanwhile, blue-veined cheeses (Roquefort) and soft cheeses (cream cheese, Brie) can keep less than a day in your pack. Of course, in cold temps, the pack life for a cheese increases by a week or two.

4. Want to melt chocolate for fondue but without having the chocolate burn to the bottom of the pot? For no-mess fondue, pour hot (near boiling) water over it, and wait five to 10 minutes (don’t stir!). Then drain the water, stir the chocolate, add any cream or flavorings, and enjoy. Watch the step-by-step video at Trail Chef: Chocolate Fondue. 

5. Melt snow efficiently. While melting snow in a pot (you do this by placing snow and a little bit of water in a pot and heating it over a stove), get twice the bang for your butane by filling a second pot with snow, covering it, and setting it atop the first, to take advantage of the rising heat.

6. Eat steak halfway through your backpacking trip. Freeze the meat before your trip, then insulate it with paper towels and or newspaper. When the T-bone thaws a couple of days later (depending on the temperatures), you can grill it up.

7. Clean a funky-smelling hydration bladder. Irrigate it with a diluted bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach per quart of water). Rinse well, and hang dry.

8. Deal with burned with food. If your noodles or rice starts to burn on the bottom of your pot, don’t stir it. That will only spread the nasty char taste. Transfer the unburned food into a bowl, clean the pot, then move the rest of the noodles back into the pot, and finish cooking them.

9. Perfectly melt the cheese on a pizza. Before removing your pie from a Dutch oven, sprinkle a teaspoon of water onto the very edge of the pan (not on the crust). The water will vaporize, and will melt cheese in less than a minute.

10. Make cleanup super easy. Bring Tupperware containers for your bowls. When you’re done, add a little bit of water, put the lid on, and shake vigorously. Then wipe away the mess with ease.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

BACKPACKER: The Pulse
Sep 23, 2010

Thanks for all your great tips, readers!

Danielle Anderson
Sep 17, 2010

I am planning a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for 2011. I am going to buy a bulk supply of dehydrated foods, create my own meals adding extra seasonings and sauces, and vacuum seal them. This will cut weight and cost while increasing both my meal variety; based on my own personal preferences, and the simplicity of cooking when its dinner time on the trail.

Danielle
Sep 17, 2010

I am planning a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for 2011. I have been looking into doing mail drops. I want the most cost efficient lightweight food with the most variety. So I started researching. Some like to buy all of those expensive pre-packaged meals, some like to dehydrate their own food and some buy non-perishable items from the store and use zip lock bags.

I have decided I will buy a bulk supply of dehydrated food. Costco has a six month supply of dehydrated and freeze dried food for one person totaling 2515 servings at a cost of only $549.99. It is called the Self Reliance Thrive system. Adding some extra spices and sauces I will package my own meals with a vacuum sealer, cutting weight and cost as well as increasing my variety of meals based on my own personal preferences.

Danielle
Sep 17, 2010

I am planning a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail for 2011. I have been looking into doing mail drops. I want the most cost efficient lightweight food with the most variety. So I started researching. Some like to buy all of those expensive pre-packaged meals, some like to dehydrate their own food and some buy non-perishable items from the store and use zip lock bags.

I have decided I will buy a bulk supply of dehydrated food. Costco has a six month supply of dehydrated and freeze dried food for one person totaling 2515 servings at a cost of only $549.99. It is called the Self Reliance Thrive system. Adding some extra spices and sauces I will package my own meals with a vacuum sealer, cutting weight and cost as well as increasing my variety of meals based on my own personal preferences.

Randy Bowman
Sep 16, 2010

Combine in a small freezer bag. One small jar of whole mushrooms (drained) and cream of mushroom soup. Double bag and freeze. Pack this insulated with paper towel or newspaper along with a packet of pre drained tuna and some rice. A couple days into the trip when the soup thaws. Combine in pot the soup and tuna. Heat thoroughly and pour over cooked rice. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes a great tasting, rib sticking, filling, re-energizing meal fit for a king.

Matthew
Sep 16, 2010

Cheesy potato mashers with no cleanup:

Boil water.
In a ziploc:
Potato flakes, cheese packet from mac and cheese, powdered milk, spices.
Slowly add water, zip closed and knead. Add bacon.
Enjoy.
Toss bag.

Matthew
Sep 16, 2010

Cheesy potato mashers with no cleanup:

Boil water.
In a ziploc:
Potato flakes, cheese packet from mac and cheese, powdered milk, spices.
Slowly add water, zip closed and knead. Add bacon.
Enjoy.
Toss bag.

Jeff Dillavou
Sep 16, 2010

For a light weight non-spoiling lemon juice Substitute - use un-sweeten powdered kool-aid - add to your mix or sprinkle on topů

DBE
Sep 16, 2010

The best campfire cooking ever done was by my Friend Carly Drought (she's a hydrologist). She called the meal outdoor omelets and they were to die for...here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

- eggs,
- celery
- basil
- tomatoes
- cheddar cheese
- green and/or red peppers
- hot sauce (tobasco)

Cooking Instructions:

- put large pot on fire to boil
- hand out sturdy sandwich sized zip-lock bags to all those who plan on eating
- Crack one to two eggs in to the bag and mush up until the yolk and white are nicely blended
- add cut up tomatoes, celery and peppers
- add a pinch of basil and possibly hot sauce if you like it
- Throw in grated cheese or small cubes if you are cutting it up
- mush up a bit more and mix the the ingredients in to the eggs
- drop the bag in to the boiling water and leave there for three to five minutes
- remove from pot open and eat!

yumm!



ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Jury acquits man who (probably) killed
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Trailhead Register
Scouting woes...
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: starwalker

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

>
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions