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freezer bag cooking
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Steven McDowell
(smcdindelmar) - MLife

Locale: San Diego
Re: freezer bag cooking on 08/06/2012 16:12:45 MDT Print View

Looked at using bags and decide too much trash.

For Philmont we are going with the 4 cup ziploc bowls that way we can split or mix a meal into one depending on the specific meal and a bowl (Voskos 16 ounce Yogurt container) that fits into the Reactors. If you trim one of them you can get two containers in and the bigger can of fuel.

Other containers I like to use are; the jar from JetPuff Marshmallow, the jar you get when you buy powered gatorade and the Voskos Greek Yogurt 16 ounce.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Freezer Bag Cooking on 08/06/2012 19:29:07 MDT Print View

Yes, you need to know these things during the planning stage which begins a year or more in advance.

We are about to buy new stoves and a Jetboil or a Pocket Rocket is no good for putting a big pot of food on.

I'd rinse the bags and carry them out. 11 meals for 7 members and consider we will use the original bag for half the meals and a ziplock for the other half you're carrying 33 bags. No big deal. But if the ranger is going to make us carry the big pot and cleaning supplies we might as well just use their method and be done with it.

Hard to sell the boys on the boy led thing when they don't get to make decisions.

Edited by DonH on 08/06/2012 19:37:11 MDT.

bill berklich

Locale: Northern Mid-West
No Turkey Bags on 08/08/2012 12:07:18 MDT Print View

7/16: At the Advisors Meeting we were asked to not use Turkey Bags and we were asked to compress our trash. We had no plan on using the bags ourselves for 2 reasons. First, we liked the one pot method because the community pot brought the Crew together. Second was the trash. That was not a big issue until we actually got to the staffed camps and saw how much trash was being made by the T-Bag method. You could always tell who was using it because we could compress ours down to about a coke can and the T-baggers were about double that. And it really showed. Clean-up was a pain until the boys started working as a team. Then it was a breeze.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Turkey Bags on 08/08/2012 15:14:02 MDT Print View

"First, we liked the one pot method because the community pot brought the Crew together. Second was the trash."

Any water boil method will bring a crew together via the use of a single community pot, whether using turkey bags or bowls/cups.

As to the second point, the 'footprint' a turkey bag leaves isn't that obvious. Sure, the trash is visible, but how does this compare to the impact of cleaning (presumably with soap) all those bowls & cups? Secondly, who wants to hoof water back & forth for clean-up? Those kinds of chores make backpacking less enjoyable.

Thirdly, if you use bowls, then you are sort of stuck using conventional dehydrated food (like Mountain House), unless you bring a lid & cozy. One of the key advantages to using turkey bags transcends the clean up vs trash debate.

With a bag inside a bubble envelope (for insulation), you can cook all kinds of standard home meals (ie non-dehydrated food), such as oatmeal, pasta, mac-n-cheese, etc, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes without getting cold. From a dietary stand-point, I think that factor alone makes turkey bags a lot more appealing.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
FREEZER BAGS, TURKEY BAGS AND THE YUM-YUM BAG... on 08/08/2012 15:39:46 MDT Print View

We used 10 turkey bags to rehydrate/cook our meals during our trek this summer. We used maybe two or three of the "yum yum" bags (day two and three with our ranger). The extras were used by the crew for clothes washing, food storage or anything else that needed a large ziploc.

I agree that if multiple freezer bags are being used at every hot meal by a crew, it adds up. I don't agree, however, that using turkey bags to cook in and then using them as the "yum yum" bag adds any additional trash. We could have left the "sump strainer" behind... That was a mess to deal with any way you do it...

On the trash compaction... We encouraged our crew to compact as much as possible but were also told by a couple of staffers that they can no longer require it as it might be considered "hazing"... good grief... Just good backcountry sense to me...

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Freezer Bag Cooking on 08/10/2012 08:46:17 MDT Print View

My Philmont crew met last night to discuss preparations, first on the agenda was changing their cooking method. They decided to stay with freezer bags and carry out all bags. As a back up plan they will have bowls so they can go with reconstituting in the bag and then dish out into bowls if needed. If they can do freezer bag cooking they'll take the ziplock bags, if not they'll take the bowls and leave the bags at base camp. The same pots and stoves can be used in either. The crew (6 scouts, 2 adults) will purchase 2 MSR Pocket Rocket stoves and we'll use two pots from troop cook kits.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Freezer Bag Cooking on 08/10/2012 12:00:23 MDT Print View

Do yourself a favor and get some bubble envelopes - one for each person - that are large enough to place freezer bags inside. This obviates the need for a separate cozy/lid for each bowl.

Once someone uses a bowl, and then has to deal with properly washing & disposing of the soapy water, I'd be surprised anyone deviates from eating out of freezer bags again.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Freezer Bag Cooking on 08/17/2012 11:33:36 MDT Print View

I guess the reason why people don't use the freezer bag method is because Philmont is now discouraging it. I understand they make you carry the gear for cooking (large pots, cleaning stuff etc). End result, not much weight savings.

Has anyone out there reconstituted the Philmont dinners in the original bag? These bags are different than the Mountain House meals you buy.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: Freezer Bag Cooking on 08/17/2012 13:50:58 MDT Print View

Question to those on the forum.. my Reactor stoves are not going work with Philmont pots....the only pots usable with a reactor stove are the 1L and 2.5L MSR Reactor pots...

Is Philmont going to force me to purchase new stoves once I get there?

From your comment Donald, I did not realize the mountain house meals at philmont are different than the one you purchase in the store... I take it that you can't just reheat in the bag... so then you are forced to dump the contents into a pot for rehydration...

Anyone who went to Philmont this year care to comment?

The staff at Philmont should attend the backpacking light school in Montana next month... :)

Mark Rash

Locale: North Texas
Reactor Stoves on 08/18/2012 00:13:57 MDT Print View

I also use Reactor stoves and my crew used two of them at Philmont this summer. What I would do is rehydrate in ziplock bowls (if they absolutely will not let you use freezer bags). That way you use the Reactor stoves and pots. You have to clean the bowls, but you won't have to clean any pots.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: Reactor Stoves on 08/18/2012 04:54:43 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply. I can try that method on our next shakedown with the scouts. Our goal with the reactor pots is to just boil water in them and not use them for cooking.

Thanks again

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Mountain House Meals on 08/19/2012 12:40:11 MDT Print View

I have heard that Philmont rangers have told some crews that they should not try to reconstitute the meals in the bag because the bag will release toxins when the hot water is added. I contacted Mountain House directly and they said that the reason why they do not recommend that meals be reconstituted is because the bags will not withstand the heat. They state that the bags will not release toxins.

I've heard that some do use the bags to reconstitute the meals. Has anyone done this?

Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F

Locale: Eastern Iowa
Re: Mountain House Meals on 08/19/2012 16:34:42 MDT Print View

Our ranger told us that the Philmont MH meals use less expensive bags and contain a few ounces more than off-the-shelf meals.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: Re: Mountain House Meals on 08/19/2012 16:56:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for the insight. Must have been worth it to Mountain House to make a production run of product using different materials versus just selling the everyday consumer product to Philmont. All about price points and production costs.

Gordon Forrest
Reyurned last week on 08/20/2012 12:07:39 MDT Print View

A couple observations having just returned from Philmont last week (Crew 731-E, Trek 22)...

Freezer bag cooking is not being permitted at all at Philmont. Additionally, not all of the dinner meals are from Mountain House so there is little uniformity in the meal bags so that wouldn't be practical for cooking.

Our crew of 12 had prepared to use the "fair share" mug method of rehydration and we were forced to take 2 pots with us on the trail. One large pot to rehydrate the food in and a smaller pot to sterilize our mugs in.

Once our ranger left, we did revert back to our "fair share" mugs for cooking except for the stuffing and canned turkey meal - we made that up in the big pot.

In the end, having the large pot was useful for laundry and other tasks but we had planned on bringing a collapsible bucket for that purpose. Other than the inconvenience of strapping the large pot on the outside of a pack it really wasn't too much of a burden, however.

We used 2 JetBoil Sumo stoves for our crew of 12 and those worked great. Despite the weight penalty of carrying the Sumo pots in addition to our ranger mandated pots, it was pretty quick work to boil water in the Sumos and pour the water in to the large pot for rehydration, when required. Otherwise, we just measure water directly from the Sumos in to out fair share mugs for cooking.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Re: Mountain House Meals on 08/20/2012 13:41:37 MDT Print View

On my previous 2 treks we have reconstituted almost exclusively in the provided packaging - Richmor meals and Santa Fe Chicken this year were the only meals which we didn't reconstitute in the provided packaging and that was simply because there was not enough space to add the necessary water.
Then we had one person eat out of the package while the other person ate out of their bowl - half as many dishes!!! (Or my daughter and I just ate out of the same bag, but I wouldn't ask the rest of the crew to do this.)

Arnold OSullivan
Philmont: turkey bag on 08/21/2012 09:24:06 MDT Print View

Been back two weeks, (802 I 2). The program director very politely asked all to conform to the no turkey bag rule. I do not buy his reasoning (solid waste reduction) as all of the staff camps which served coffee had ample supplies of styrofoam cups and the Trading Post gave out plastic bags with every sale. We only used the bags for the last three meals (a gift from another crew) and honestly I thought the meals were better hydrated in the pot. We carried two whisper-light stoves and burned through three large bottles of fuel (11 man crew). We carried our own aluminum pots and made lots of coffee/coco/tea.
We used the amsteel ropes with a five to one pulley and it was more trouble than it was worth.

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Hycrating Meals in their Packaging Bag on 08/26/2012 16:31:31 MDT Print View

To answer an earlier question: Last summer we had two crews go to Philmont. Both crews re-hydrated in the packaging bag both at Philmont and during training hikes utilizing left over Philmont meals.
Before doing so, I called both Mountain House and Richmoor about use of their packaging bags for dehydration. Was informed by both that the bag itself had the same rated liner as their commercial product bags, but that the bags did not have the folded base which could splay out to facilitate the bag standing up on its own ... a feature their commercial bags have. As a consequence they warned us to use caution & not to spill the hot contents by expecting the bags to stand up on its own.
We used the recommended caution and found out that in practice that it was not a big problem.

Wade Ford
(cwford) - MLife

Locale: NTX
RE: Freezer Bags on 08/26/2012 22:29:45 MDT Print View

We got back just over 2 weeks ago (728-I) and were prepared to do freezer bag cooking for our 11 person crew. During the advisors meeting we were told the same thing concerning the freezer bags -- not allowed. The boys decided to cook the Philmont way and not worry about it when they figured out that each boy would only have KP once for the trip. We took two 3-liter pots and 2 MSR wind pros stoves with a reflectix cozy for each pot. The cozy's worked great and were able to keep the food very hot even when the advisors were late getting back from advisors coffee.

We used just under three 8oz canisters of gas for our meals plus some extra cooking for birthday cupcakes. Using the ranger's tip of reducing the water by 25% we were able to cook most meals in a single pot. Cleanup was fairly easy. It was the human sumping of the pots that most boys didn't like. They treated sumping like a badge of honor and everyone eventually got their turn. The only thing in our yum yum bag at the end of the trip was a square of scrubby for each day and our pine needle sump bag.

We used some 8oz disposable cups as our dinner ware and these worked well while eating trail meals. Everyone just had 2nds and 3rds. They were horrible for the 2 chuck wagon meals that we had. If using bowls I would recommend a min of 16 oz bowls if you've got chuckwagon meals to deal with.

One other thing that they don't tell you is that tortillas are available at each commissary for the asking. One crew we talked with got a pack of tortillas for each trail meal and used those for bowls - so no washing of bowls.

Edited by cwford on 08/26/2012 22:30:32 MDT.

Donald Howard
(DonH) - F
Mountain House Meals on 09/04/2012 18:57:40 MDT Print View

That's interesting that MH said the bags are the same except for the pleat at the bottom which allows the bag to stand up. I email MH a few weeks ago about reports that Philmont was saying that toxins could be released if meals were reheated in the bags. MH told me that the bags were not designed for the heat, but would not release toxins. Guess it just depends on who you talk to there.

I have 20 Philmont dinners and my crew will be practicing with them.