Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vacuum Insanity

My VacMaster 112
What happens when you give a geek a VacMaster 112? Well, in my case, experiments in the vacuum sealing of backpacking food. Whenever I am talking with someone and I mention that I am planning a two-week jaunt on the John Muir Trail one of the first questions they ask is, "So, what do you eat; freeze-dried food?" I bought the food vacuum in an attempt to expand my options in what I eat. In order to do that I need to determine what works and what doesn't. So I ordered a whole bunch of vacuum-sealing bags and begin my experiments. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself, and the geeky, number-cruncher in me is loving the calculating of the number of M&Ms in one ounce (twenty seven) and other such trivia.
Yum... dinners

It is a generally true rule of my experience that when you open freeze-dried foods, as well as other foods, they become stale the longer they are exposed to air. So my big idea is that if I seal them back up in appropriate portions I can have decent food that isn't stale even after re-packaging it, having it sit around for a month or so, shipping it in a box to a post office along the trail, and hiking with it in my pack for a few days. If I'm right, I'll be able to have stuff still taste good even if it's been a while since I prepped it. Thus, I am experimenting. This year's John Muir Trail hike is an opportunity to try out some of my theories and ideas.

I started with some Mountain House freeze dried dinners. They come in two-serving pouches but I find I can only tolerate one of those servings in one meal. I would rather split it into two separately wrapped meals and then add other courses to my dinner. Idahoan brand mashed potatoes are an awesome second course. They come in a four serving pouch. If I split them into four separate servings then I don't have a partially opened bag of potato flakes flopping around and spreading potato goodness all about.

What about re-packaging dehydrated fruit?
I did that too... and Cytomax, pretzels, banana chips, tortillas, pita-pocket bread, Oreo cookies, Almonds, M&Ms, Pistachios, Granola with powdered milk and freeze-dried blueberries, graham crackers, a home-made mocha using Nestle's Quik, Starbucks Via, and Milkman powdered milk.

When will the madness end? I feel like I have past a threshold of sanity. No air in a bag of food is a good thing... isn't it?



Perhaps some of this food would be better left in it's original container... but I never been able to achieve anything close to a vacuum before now.



The VacMaster 112 chamber sucks the air out of the bag before sealing it. All I have to do is put the food in the bag, put the bag in the chamber and push the button.

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