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Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals.
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P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals. on 01/30/2012 19:32:31 MST Print View

How long would a freeze dried meal keep if you took it out of the package and vacuum sealed it in another? Anyone know?

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals on 01/30/2012 20:00:18 MST Print View

Probably a couple of years, Paul, in someplace coolish. I do this all the time, and I store the packets in my dry ( 65*F) Colorado basement. Any dehydrated stuff containing fat (meat, cheese) should be stored in the fridge. I repackage my FD Mountain House meats by vacuum sealing smaller portions, and I simply store them downstairs. Works fine. I am 3 years into this technique, and I haven't notice any adverse effects thus far.


Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 01/30/2012 20:01:49 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals. on 01/30/2012 20:03:04 MST Print View

I don't know but I'll hazard a guess:

You'd be removing it from a very-good factory seal which I believe was done in nitrogen, exposing it to air, and then imperfectly resealing it.

Versus the 5+ years for factory-sealed freeze-dried, I'd give home-resealed freeze-dried many, many months at room temps and many years in the freezer.

But why? I can understand wanting to toss the Mountain House packaging and use your own, but I'd suggest doing it a week before departure (or prior to mailing to your resupply points) and doing it into basic freezer zip-locks. Put in a straw in the closure and suck it down by mouth as you close the zip-closure. Ideally, do that at elevation ("Will the passanger in seat 7F please stop sucking on plastic bags - the other passengers are starting to worry about you.") or, heck, just at the trailhead. Mail yourself the factory-sealed packages, a straw and XX zip-locks. Leave all the Mountain House packaging at the trailhead.

Then you can use those freezer bags to reconstitute food in, pack out garbage, waterproof your TP, etc.

I'd find a used gallon zip-lock much more useful on the trail than a cut-open vacuum-pack envelope.

Editted to add: Freezer zip-locks are also cheaper than vac-pack bags/rolls.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 01/30/2012 20:04:54 MST.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Re: Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals. on 01/30/2012 21:08:16 MST Print View

My reason for asking is that for my CT hike, I am buying bulk freeze dried food from Mary Jane's farm and I'd like to put it in portions to mail to myself. So the shelf life I'm thinking is no more than 35 days or so.

I've heard that you have to eat MH meals within 5 days after opening their big, heavy, foil pouches.

So Dave, you are saying that I'd be alright putting the freeze dried portions in zip loc bags and be totally fine for my trip?

Edited by reacttocontact on 01/30/2012 21:10:35 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re: Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals. on 01/30/2012 22:10:48 MST Print View

Mary Janes isn't technically freeze-dried btw, it is a mix of mostly dehydrated ingredients - hence why the packages of single serving are not sealed the same as MH. It can handle air exposure a LOT longer.

The issue with MH and similar meals is the high content of meat and dairy, freeze-dried items that go bad when exposed to humidity in the air.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals. on 01/30/2012 22:44:32 MST Print View

Even better! Thanks Sarah!!!

I'm assuming you've had MJ's food? Would you recommend it or no?

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals on 01/30/2012 23:11:36 MST Print View

I have done what you are thinking about for over 4 years, and I'm convinced that repackaging, then vacuum-sealing meal portions is the way to go for what you want to do.

There are several considerations that should be mentioned here:

1) If there is any air in your food Ziploc bag, things will go goofy when you fly, or even when you climb 2-5000' above the elevation where you first packed it. Vacuum sealing eliminates this. Mountain House Pro Packs are already vacuum-sealed, with zero air inside (plus it has the oxygen inhibitor packet, which you can also buy at Packit Gourmet). MH's regular meals have a lot of air in the bag. Bags with air inside them take up a goodly amount of pack space, compared to vacuum-sealed bags.

2) Bag weights: 1 quart Ziploc freezer bag=.20 oz., 1/2 of a 1-qt. vacuum bag (~1 meal serving)=.20 oz., clean Mountain House zip bag=.55 oz. The Ziploc and the MH bags can be re-used on the trail, having the zip capability. The used vacuum-sealed bag is pretty limited as to what it can do for you after you open it. I sometimes carry one clean MH zip bag, for use as a fairly efficient freezer bag cooking system. I will clean it after use, in case I need it again. It makes a somewhat heavy trash bag as well.

3) I'm not very excited about keeping food in a Ziploc for up to 35 days, as I'm fairly certain that things would get a bit musty after awhile. Those bags don't really hold a perfect seal. Vacuum sealed bags pretty much do. When I hike Glacier or Yellowstone, I always vacuum seal every meal, including each day's trail snacks. This keeps the food odors pretty much at bay, especially when used in conjunction with an OPsack bag.

4) What I like about buying MH and Harmony House ingredients in bulk, and then repackaging things, is that I can create my own concoctions, add my own spices, and thereby control the ingredients, taste, volume, and, to some degree, the salt and fat.

Sarah has a wealth of knowledge regarding recipes and FBC techniques. Hit her up with questions, or check out her websites. She's a good lady and very willing to help.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: MJ's on 01/31/2012 08:07:08 MST Print View

I do like MJ's meals (they are about the lowest in sodium around) but take the serving size with a grain of salt - "1 serving" by them isn't big, it won't fill up many men. And it is nearly all vegetarian food as well (not that is a bad thing!!). I suggest you try out the serving size and see if it fills you up.
You can also add meat to bulk it up or serve tortillas with many of the meals to add calories/fill one up.

If you do use freezer bags for storage, roll them tightly before sealing and store this way. It will prevent some of the air from getting in. But yes, vac sealing is best for long term storage - but will weigh/cost more. A couple of years ago I was sending out meals via mail to friends of mine who were thru-hiking and they had no issues with freezer bags - but I had rolled the meals though and yes, I used desiccant packets to be safe.

Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
bulk, vacuum seal, etc on 01/31/2012 09:15:07 MST Print View

First, I did not know you could buy Mountain House in bulk, that *changes everything*! (though not totally really).

Second, in my experience, while cooking in plastic bags seems to work fine for most home dehydrated foods in warmer weather, it does not seem to work nearly as well for freeze-dried, especially in cooler and lower temps. Too much heat is lost through the bag, the nice thing being about the MH bags is their reflective lining.

So I started to think about this as a "food system"...

One idea was to carry an old MH type food pouch to cook future meals in (and re-use), or in the idea of a reflectix or reflective nylon type "bag" that one can put their ziploc bag into for cooking. One could also add 2mm climashield or PE foam to a ripstop bag to provide further insulation in much colder temps. I even though of a hand pocket on one side that would allow for easy holding in cold temperatures that would allow you to not have to wear a glove to hold the food while still keeping your hand warm.

Then I started to think about weight and dead space. Freezer ziplocs are much bigger than generally required to hold a single or even double serving of food, and heavier per sqft than the thinner freeze-dry bags. So storing the food in the vacuum bag and rip/cutting open into a re-usable bag for cooking would save weight overall, the longer your trip the more weight saved.

So it would make more sense to take an re-use older MH reflective bags, or to make a lightweight reflective bag and use with a single re-used ziploc, and store the food vacuum sealed in as small a pouch as possible.

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: bulk, vacuum seal, etc on 01/31/2012 10:16:17 MST Print View

Steve, I wasn't talking about buying MH in bulk. I was talking about MJ (Mary Jane's).

P. Larson
(reacttocontact) - F
Re: Re: MJ's on 01/31/2012 10:17:28 MST Print View

I thought their "suggested" serving size seemed small. I just ordered a couple of their "Outpost" meals, I guess they are considered 1.5 servings to give them a try.

Thanks for the help.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: bulk, vacuum seal, etc on 01/31/2012 10:21:19 MST Print View is called a cozy. That is what one uses in cold weather for homemade meals. I have been sewing and selling them for years I might add ;-)

Steven Adeff
(TinCanFury) - F

Locale: Boston
Re: Re: bulk, vacuum seal, etc on 01/31/2012 10:43:20 MST Print View

ah, someone else mentioned MH in bulk as well, good to know MJ does it as well!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Vacume PACKAGING on 02/24/2012 19:41:40 MST Print View

The packagin matreial MUST be an aluminum mylar, which does not allow oxygen to pass in to the food. That's why quality freeze-dried food companies use it. Richmoor is not one of those, last time I checked.

ALL other (available to us) plastic vacume bags will let oxygen pass into the food, thus spoiling it gradually.

BTW, Freeze-dried and some dehydrated foods usually won't last a year in regular plastic withour degredation of taste and viability.

Edited by Danepacker on 02/24/2012 19:45:00 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Shelf Life Re: Mary Jane Farms on 02/24/2012 21:01:32 MST Print View

I ordered some bulk items from Mary Jane Farms a few years ago. They came in a big zip lock type bag. I don't think they were vacuum sealed. Opened and stored at room temp the food seemed fine 3 months later. The next summer it tasted extremely stale!

We now have a vacuum sealer and chest freezer so I won't be making that mistake again.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Shelf Life Re: Mary Jane Farms on 02/24/2012 22:14:11 MST Print View

Stale is still edible.....

But yes, 6 months and less is optimal for using up dried foods. Buy in spring, be done with by fall.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Re: Re: Vacuum sealing freeze dried meals. on 03/02/2012 12:07:04 MST Print View

I dehydrate my own meals now but used to use MH and still use the odd one here and there. I always repackage them into 1-qt ziplocks. They may not last forever but will certainly last more than 5 days. I wouldn't worry about it for a month or even two.

I fly a couple of times a year to backpack and always take all of my food, portioned, packaged and ready to go, always in my checked luggage. I've never had a problem. Pockets of air may have expanded during the flight but it hasn't been noticeable on arrival and I've never experienced damaged bags or packaging.

I'm a fan of noodle soups on the trail and prefer to have a real bowl. I really don't like eating out of a plastic bag in general. I take one of the lidded "disposable" plastic containers, like Gladware. Good for storing crackers while hiking and, with the lid, I don't need a separate cozy. If it's really cold, I'll slip it in my bag to rehydrate. They weigh a littler over an ounce, which is worth it, imo.