Yummmmm, dehydrated bikepacking food. Before I look at these beans in more detail it is probably worth talking a little about “why” dehydrated foods and some of your options. The pros of dehydrated foods are that they pack down small and they are lightweight since you are not carrying the water. And they keep for a long time. Dehydrated foods usually require boiling water to rehydrate them and these beans are no exception, so you have to carry some kitchen and cooking equipment and you have to filter or carry more water. The end result is that you get warm food though. You could bring along some sandwiches, for example, but they get nasty after a couple of days, and by the time you add up the weight and size, dehydrated starts to make sense. You can get complete dehydrated meals; there are a lot of well known brands. They offer a lot of variety and convenience, but they can get pretty pricey. You can also dehydrate food yourself. But there are limits to what you can do at home and it can be time consuming, especially at first as you get the hang of it. I like finding individual dehydrated items like eggs and potatoes. They are much less expensive than the complete meals and I feel like I am cooking and I have fun when I prepare them.
I found these at the grocery store, which is handy. If they don’t have them at a grocer’s shelf near you, you can get them direct from the bean company themselves, as seen on the url on the label below.
I like that the ingredients list is short. I need to look up interestified though. I cannot help but compare these with a staple and favorite of mine:
Of course you make very different meals with potatoes, but variety is a good thing. These two have a lot of similarities. I will compare as I go. In terms of nutrition they are close, so close I did not bother showing the potato’s label, but the beans win big when it comes to protein. You get 7g per 6 servings or 42g total in that package of beans. The potatoes deliver 2g per 4 servings for a total of 8g protein. The only surprise there is that the potatoes did not have zero grams of protein. The beans weigh more, but I reckon you get about the same amount of food out of either package.
I dumped them into the pot out of curiosity before I prepared them. They are non uniform flakes of varying color. Curiouser and curiouser. One of the reasons I decided to try these is the traditional trail cooking technique is listed as one of the preparation options:
Good old boiling. The next step should come as no surprise:
One downside of these vs. the potatoes is preparation. With the spuds you boil the water, add the flakes, mix, and you are done. With the frijoles you do the same, but you must then simmer for 5 minutes. So these will use a little more of your cooking fuel for preparation. And you will have to stir and take measures to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. My teflon camp cookware will do the job though. When they are done they may look a little thin, but as they cool down to a temperature where you can eat them they get thicker. You can adjust the amount of water to make thicker or thinner beans.
You may not be able to add cheese or sauce on the trail, but if you can, go for it. How do they taste? They were excellent, I give them a thumbs up for flavor and texture. I admit to being a little shocked. Other family members swooped in and took some to make huevos rancheros and also gave them the seal of approval.
I cannot finish a review of refried beans as trail food without mentioning the elephant in the room. Ummm…digestive odor, let’s just say. Beans don’t have that affect on me so much. And if you are alone, no big deal, right? But if you are camping with a group, this may be a concern. Or it might be downright hilarious. Unless you are sharing a tent, then it may get old fast. I don’t know if burning through calories and food fast when you are hungry will make matters worse or not. There is only one way to find out. I am packing some of these on my next trip.