Cooking Systems
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Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
New Lightweight Cooking Technique on 07/31/2009 22:48:11 MDT Print View

Al - what are these Philmont foil packages you talk about here and on your link that you eat out of? Are they obtainable empty to put your own food in, or are they the ones the Philmont "people in charge" issue your food in and are prepackaged somewhere?

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 07/31/2009 23:06:20 MDT Print View

Nice set of articles Al! I have 11 months for getting our crews to buy into dome of that stuff.

I like the idea of buying PhilFood in advance to practice with (and to help with the sales pitch). Note that folks probably want to shop early (soon after their season ends) because they are selling surplus from the most recent season and when it's gone it's gone until next year.

Did you make that chair yourself or is it something you bought?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: New Lightweight Cooking Technique on 08/05/2009 22:08:28 MDT Print View

Hi Kathleen,

Philmont issues food to the crews for their trek. Usually four days worth at a time. The supper ingredients are packaged by Philmont in foil packages that serve 2.
Here is an example - 2008 S2 (supper #2) package contains:
- 7"x8" foil pouch of black beans and rice for 2
- 7"x6" foil pouch of pilot biscuits for 2
- 5"x4" foil pouch of corn for 2
- 5"x4" foil pouch of pineapple chunks for 1
- 5"x4" foil pouch of pineapple chunks for 1
All these are stuffed into a 12"x14" clear plastic bag
The total weight of S2 is 15oz.

Usually all this packaging is just trash
and the food is poured into pots or turkey bags.

This summer our crew figured out a method to use
the foil pouches as both the cooking bag and bowl.

This eliminated clean up, sterilizing bowls, and
reduced the amount of fuel used. Saved weight all around.

We incorporated a lot of good ideas I found in this forum
such as using two stoves with two smaller pots to boil
the water faster.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/05/2009 22:20:48 MDT Print View

> Did you make that chair yourself or is it something you bought?

Hi Jim,

I bought the Sling-Light chair on the recommendations of
folks on this forum who said it was really useful to them
at Philmont. Having just gotten back from our Trek, I have
to agree it was really useful at Philmont.

You can get the chair from Sling-Light
http://www.slinglight.com/
or Crazy Creek
http://crazycreek.com/product/specials/66/

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Lightweight Philmont Cooking Kit on 08/07/2009 21:39:25 MDT Print View

In the image below may be useful to crews heading to
Philmont for the first time. First, it shows how much volume,
and how many bags, 4 days of food for a crew of 8 is.
Lesson 1. Be sure your boys have plenty of space left in
their packs to handle this volume.
Second, the photo shows volume of the standard issue
Philmont pots, pans, frisbee, et al. We left all these in
the locker. We took our own lightweight cooking kit seen
in the ziplock bag sitting on the table right in front
of the pots. Notice how much less space it takes up.
The kit weighed 24oz and contained everything including the
stoves, pots, spoons, bowls, cozies, soap, hand cleaner,
sump screen - everything but the fuel canisters.
A detailed contents list of the lightweight cook kit
can be found at http://www.csm.ornl.gov/~geist/Philmont/Lightweight Philmont Cook kit

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/18/2009 11:32:54 MDT Print View

For those that use the turkey bag style, do you spoon, pour or squeeze out (like an icing bag) the portions for each crew member from the bag after re-hydration?

Al,
I really like your technique that eliminates the need for a turkey bag. I don't quite follow your cozy design though. From your cozy picture and the need for a stiffener and clips, it sounds as if you're clipping the bags on the OUTside of the cozy so the cozy is simply to hold the bag upright rather than retain heat. If the bags go inside, why would you need clips? Why not use something simpler like a padded Tyvek mailing envelope?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/20/2009 17:20:52 MDT Print View

>If the bags go inside, why would you need clips?
>Why not use something simpler like a padded Tyvek mailing envelope?

Excellent question Michael. Here are three photos of the cozy that hopefully will help you see how it is made. If folks can come up with even better, easier, cheaper cozies, that would be wonderful. I started out with a simple envelope design, but after watching the boys try out a couple Philmont practice meals, the design evolved.
Philmont  Cozy for super efficient cooking method

The key cozy design parameters are:

1. Dimensions of the Philmont supplied foil food pouches. An example is shown in the first figure. I bought 6 different meals, containing 23 foil pouches which varied from 7"x10" to 4"x6". One edge was always between 6-7" so I made the cozy 7" wide. I made the cozy short enough so the pouch would stick out the top to make pouring in the boiling water easier. I made the sides 3". I added clips as an accessory when I saw the boys let the top edge of a 4"x6" pouch of corn slip down into the cozy while practicing pouring in boiling water. Now clips hold the short pouches so their top doesn't slip down inside the cozy where their contents may spill.

2. Volume of the cozy needs to be large enough to hold the maximum volume of water in a single serving of any Philmont meal. That turns out to be 12oz (1.5 cups) plus the volume
of the freeze dried food already in the bag. To address this I made the cozy 3" wide at the bottom, giving it the volume of a triangular prism 7" long.

3. Very desirable to have the cozy stand up by itself. The food needs to rehydrate for 10-15 minutes after stirring. I saw the boys trying to sit the cozies down during this time. Envelopes don't work very well for this feature. The triangular shape allows the cozy to hold the pouch upright and being widest at the bottom the water weight and hence the center of gravity is low on this design making the cozy harder to knock over while rehydrating.Philmont cozy stands upright

4. While not a required feature, I wanted the cozy to be as light as possible so I used 7"x9" piece of 2mm art foam and folded it as shown in the photo so that it would pack flat. The cozy weighed 5 grams. It worked great holding the pouch. It was plenty big to hold the volume of water. But I found that when BOILING water was poured in, and allowed to sit for a few minutes, the foam properties changed. It no longer held its triangular shape. Increasing the chance that the cozy would fall over and spill the food while rehydrating. My quick fix, one week before we left for Philmont, was to slip in a thin sheet of plastic on the two sides of the cozy. This worked very well at holding the cozy shape when hot. It also pretty much eliminated the need for the clips, but we carried and used the clips at Philmont to just be EXTRA safe not to spill any food using this new cooking method.Philmont cozy construction materials

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: New lightweight Philmont Cooking Technique on 08/20/2009 18:05:00 MDT Print View

Thanks for the detailed description. So the clips are really serving no purpose in the middle pic - they're just not getting lost. ;) They'd be clipped along one side of the top edge to hold up shorter pouches.

I think your design makes sense for use with Philmont pouches that can't be resealed after adding the water where the chance of spilling is pretty high. I've only used ziplocs to date so that isn't an issue for me.

Do you still use these for non-Philmont trips?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Beyond Turkey bagging on 08/26/2009 23:42:04 MDT Print View

When considering what cooking system to use on our Philmont trek, we first considered turkey bagging. The pro is the large pots do not have to be cleaned. The cons where we had to carry two large pots and we still had to sterilize bowls before meals and clean them after meals. There was also the issue of serving the food out of the turkey bag. The serving pros/cons have already been discussed in forums.

Going beyond turkey bagging, we next considered not carrying the large pots or turkey bags. Just pour the dry food directly into microwave-safe bowls, pour in boiling water, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes with caps on the bowls.
Pros are we don't have to carry large pots, don't have to clean the pots, and there is more flexibility in what is eaten, i.e. some people don't like mashed potatoes mixed with spaghetti. Cons are we still had to sterilize bowls before meals and wash them after meals. If you use this method, I would suggest 16oz bowls. We tried it with 12oz bowls and the rehydrated food came right to the cap.

Going beyond cooking in the bowls, we considered using the Philmont food pouches as both the cooking bags and the bowls. Pros are there is nothing to clean--the pouches are thrown away just as in the other methods. The difference is that the pouches are used first. There is no need to sterilize bowls-you get a new pouch for each meal. This has the potential to be the lightest approach.

We used the Philmont food pouch method during our trek, but we also carried a stack of microwavable bowls to use for the chuck wagon dinner. As an experiment, for two meals we dropped back and tried the cooking in bowls method. After two days of cleaning bowls the boys had had enough of the sump and gray water and went back to the Philmont food pouch method.

It is important to practice with the pouch method before showing up at Philmont. And also be prepared to improvise to get the needed number of pouches for supper that night.
In 2008 meals, Philmont put pouches of dried pineapple chunks for supper desert. In several 2009 meals that desert has been replaced with oreo cookies. So you may have to save the granola foil pouches from breakfast to use for supper.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Beyond Turkey bagging on 08/27/2009 06:16:06 MDT Print View

What do you do on normal trips where you don't have any Philmont pouches? Just use the Tupperware method?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Beyond Turkey bagging on 08/27/2009 21:10:22 MDT Print View

> What do you do on normal trips where you don't have any
> Philmont pouches? Just use the Tupperware method?

Hi Michael,
We haven't had a Troop backpacking trip since we got back
from Philmont. August outing was canoeing, September will be
cycling. It will be interesting to see if the boys decide to
use any of these three cooking methods for future Troop backpacking outings. All backpack trips before Philmont were Philmont training and involved the boys practicing one of the three methods so they would know all three.

Quart ziplock bags can be used in place of Philmont pouches
to carry single serving dehydrated food, and used to cook, and eat from on their future backpacking trips if the boys want to use the lightweight method.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Beyond Turkey bagging / tents on 08/28/2009 07:13:01 MDT Print View

Al,
Quart freezer bags is the way I have intended to go on our trips. The boys may decide otherwise. Our first BP is Oct.

It will be interesting to hear what your's decide for future trips (including car camping, camporees, etc) now that they've seen (and felt) the "light".

Are those homemade 2-man tents what your crew used? How did they hold up? I didn't realize those space blankets were that tough.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Homemade Tents on 08/29/2009 21:46:19 MDT Print View

> Are those homemade 2-man tents what your crew used?
> How did they hold up? I didn't realize those
> space blankets were that tough.

Hi Michael,

As seen in the picture at http://www.csm.ornl.gov/~geist/Philmont
We only took one of the MYOG tents. The boys used more traditional shelters such as Sierra Design Lightening.
A couple crew members talked about making light tents like mine for our Philmont trek, but they didn't get them finished before we had to leave. The 18 oz tent held up just fine. No problems or signs of wear and tear.

To learn more, go to the URL above. I just uploaded a new long article about the tent construction, the innovations that make it strong and tough (hint the Space Blanket does not carry the loads), and discussion of the different materials I considered in building it (from Cuben to polyethylene).

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Could 1 Liter Pots Work? on 04/05/2010 14:49:15 MDT Print View

I've been reading Al Geist's cooking system details and I had an idea that I'd like to get reactions to from the experienced folks on this forum.

I can get a liter of water to boil on a canister stove (MSR Pocket Rocket) in about a minute. From Al's notes it looks like you need about 1/2 L of boiling water per person. What do you think of using two canister stoves (I like the redundancy of two stoves) and two 1L pots for a crew and using them kind of like instantaneous water heaters (i.e. heat water as you go).

In theory, you only need three minutes of stove time to get the 6 liters needed for the group, and if you are measuring water out in individual servings I think you can heat water faster than you can use it with this scheme.

Whachathink?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Could 1 Liter Pots Work? on 04/05/2010 15:01:43 MDT Print View

Roger, I think you ought to confirm those boil times for the Pocket Rocket. It isn't that quick. I know. I have one.

--B.G.--

Ty Wagner
(ty27wagner) - F

Locale: Wisconsin
Boil times on 04/05/2010 21:24:20 MDT Print View

Under perfect conditions MSR says it's 3 min per liter. I just ran a test over the weekend using a snow Peak giga power stove using a MSR base 2 2.5L pot with 2L with 60F water. It took about 09.25 minutes to bring the water to full boil inside the house with no wind. Now I wasn't running the stove at full power, probably only 1/3 to 1/2. This was more of a fuel burn test so I could calculate the fuel needed for boiling 43 liters of water (10 meals for 10 people). I suspect the efficiency to go down by up to 50% if outside. This means I will need 3.8 canisters if the boil times take 50% more outside.


Temp grams liters min gr/liter eff Tot L fuel Cans
60 26 2 9.75 13.00 100% 43.18 561.3 2.551389054 inside-no wind 70F
16.25 125% 43.18 701.6 3.189236317
19.5 150% 43.18 842.0 3.827083581
22.75 175% 43.18 982.3 4.464930844
26 200% 43.18 1122.6 5.102778107

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Redirect about 1 liter pot concept on 04/07/2010 06:40:50 MDT Print View

Gang,

I didn't intend for my query to turn into a discussion of the merits of the MSR stove or exactly how fast water can be raised to a boil. The number I cited was an optimal result (indoors, full blast, barely to a boil)just intended to get the idea across.

The crux of my question is whether there is a true advantage in taking larger pots with longer boiling times per pot versus small pots that can be cycled faster. This question assumes that you are using a minimal cook water/negligible wash water approach like Al Geist's. I suspect wind and YMMV issues could impact large pots more than small pots because the heat output of a typical canister stove is better matched to a small pot.

What do the Philmont veterans think?

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Redirect about 1 liter pot concept on 04/08/2010 16:06:36 MDT Print View

> The crux of my question is whether there is a true
> advantage in taking larger pots with longer boiling times
> per pot versus small pots that can be cycled faster. This
> question assumes that you are using a minimal cook
> water/negligible wash water approach like Al Geist's

Hi Roger,

The choice of using 1L or 3L pots on two stoves to boil 6L of water comes down to fuel efficiency and timing of serving the food. If you run a test at home, you will find that two 3L pots are significantly more efficient. I'm not positive, but I suspect that the fuel weight savings over the 10 days would be greater than the difference in weight between the 1L and 3L pots. (2L pots if your crew is 9 or less)

Timing-wise Philmont wants you to say grace as a group before meals. Having all the water available about the same time helps with this.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Unpackaging Philmont Food on 07/12/2010 11:46:35 MDT Print View

A pair of 2 liter pots seems really small. We had a 6l pot and two 4l pots for our crew of ten (crew 624-X, itinerary 4). We filled them up several times, especially when cooking extra food from swap boxes. One night, the crew cooked dinner for 18 and ate it all.

You will cook Philmont style (in the pot) with your ranger, so you'll probably end up carrying a big pot that you get from Philmont services.

Our crew cooked Philmont-style all the time. That allowed us to add freeze-dried corn from the swap boxes, fresh garlic, and other spices. They even added refried beans to the mac and cheese -- not bad at all.

Dr. Bronners' is a poor choice for Philmont. It is a powerful smellable and will be forbidden after 6pm, due to bear protocol. Also, Dr. Bronner's turns into a gel at low temps. Leave it at home and use the Philmont-provided Biosuds instead.

You also want a multi-tool with pliers to help dunk bowls and cups in the sterilizing wash.

Gregg Martell
(gmartell) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Flexible Ranger on 07/12/2010 22:58:25 MDT Print View

We went planning on using turkey bags, using 2 4L pots. Our ranger had no issue with this, but he wanted to show us the "cook in your bowl" method. The boys loved it. Less work overall, but we did have a few meals that were a bit crunchy compared to turkey bag cooking.

We did make one turkey bag desert when the boys found 6 packages of apple cobbler in one of the swap boxes. Very good.

BTW, Philmont now uses Mountain House dehydrated for dinner. An improvement over the Phil food we bought last year to practice cooking,