Not since the 60s – when it was touted as “the food astronauts eat!” have I been a fan of freeze-dried foods. When I first got into backpacking in the 90s, I bought a dehydrator before I ever took my first trek into the mountains. In went the chili, spaghetti sauce, and ground beef. Out came dried food I’d run through a food processor to condense even more, and I’d rehydrate it in a special Nalgene just for that purpose as I was hiking.
It’s been quite a few years since I dehyrated anything on my own. On the Appalachian Trail, we bought food from grocery and convenience stores and made meals straight from it. But most of the people we saw were eating straight out of bags of Mountain House meals, which you see at all the outfitters.
A few weeks ago, a rep from Mountain House emailed us about their products, which neither of us have ever tried. Since they were promoting gluten-free options – and I have trouble digesting gluten, so I take a supplement if I eat anything with wheat in it – I figured let’s try something we enjoy at home but never have on the trail: Scrambled Eggs with Bacon and Fire Roasted Vegetable Blend. They sent us free samples.
After the packages arrived, we didn’t want to wait until our next backpacking trip. So we tucked both, along with our Jetboil, into our packs to take along on a scouting expedition on the Florida Trail in the Ocala National Forest. Stopping for lunch, we broke out the Mountain House.
The first thing I noticed – having just returned from Oregon a few weeks ago – is that the mountain on their package is one of the Cascades. Looking at fine print, the company that produces the meals is Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. – the same company that makes the “Astronaut Ice Cream” they sell out at Kennedy Space Center.
Scoping out our water situation – we didn’t bring much extra on our hike, and water sources were limited – we figured we’d try Scrambled Eggs with Bacon first, with its 17 grams of protein per serving, or 25.5 grams per bag. Veggies only had 3g of protein by comparison, as you’d expect.
Firing up the Jetboil, we had hot water in less than two minutes. Unsealing the pouch, the insides reminded me of chunks of yellow sponge. Big chunks.
“Where’s the bacon?” John said. We did find a little packet that we had to remove: “oxygen absorber.”
After pouring the hot water in, we sealed it and let the packet sit for five minutes. After pouring the water out, with only one spork between us, we took turns digging in.
I’ll admit, from the look of it, I didn’t have high hopes. But I was impressed.Turned out the bacon was there, down in the bottom of the packet, and we mixed it in well.
The texture and taste was very much like any bacon and eggs you’ve ever had at a free continental breakfast in the lobby of a major chain hotel. You can’t get much better than that without carrying the fresh eggs, bacon, and skillet into the backcountry.
We’ll take the veggies along on our next backpacking trip. But for now, kudos to Mountain House for serving up convenient, flavorful food. What you have to ask yourself is what price are you willing to pay? These packets run from $5-8, depending on where you buy them, although you can buy them in bulk as well, direct from Mountain House, for the best price. So it depends on your backpacking budget vs. an easy meal. Each meal has an expiration date stamped on it, so be sure to check those when you’re making a purchase. The corporate website says most foods last 10 years from the date shown on the package.
John went back and picked up a piece of egg that fell on the ground when he was pouring the water out, and ate it. So I think he liked it, too.