In the following test i decided to test Freeze-Dried food. I've heard so many hikers and preppers talk about it and i was really curious to find out what the actual taste was. In the beginning i was only going to try the taste, and nothing else, but i thought, why not do a more comprehensive test and add my biased taste test onto that?
So i ordered some different products from varying brands (see picture below) and tried a dish a day. The first one is actually more of an MRE (a soft-container), but i wanted to try that as well, consider it a control group if you wish.
1. Outmeals: Chicken yellow curry rice (Soft container/MRE)
Basic chicken yellow curry with rice: Has a softcan container, with sauce ready to eat, heated or not. I recommend that you remove the kidney beans to reduce floury taste. Very little chicken, had "chickenlike" filling to distract you from that, probably a reason why this is the cheapest. Weighs lots in comparison to Freeze-dried food but can be eaten without preparation.
2. Trek'n Eat: Chicken Curry.
When i opened it, it looked like a misdelivered weapon shipment of yellowcake uranium with rice in it. Oversaturated with curry. It is not spicy like Vindaloo, it just taste unbalanced and bad in general, and smells chemical (Uranium?). Add a bit more water above the fill line, or it gets too dry (i added some later). Ate 25%, the rest went down the bin. Probably gives an ok feeling of being full - if you can eat it.
3. Blå band: Creamy pasta with chicken
Very little chicken overall. Needs seasoning. Boring taste, pinecones probably have more flavour.
4. Mountain House: Chicken curry korma
Now this is more like it! Actually tasted like Indian food. Had to add a bit of salt. Best so far.
5. Adventure Food: Chicken curry
Unimpressive. Looked like one of those prepared "gourme" dishes you can buy in stores that everyone is supposed to love, but don't. The fill line seem somewhat high. Taste is average, most of it went down the bin.
<forgot to take an image of the prepared meal>
6. Real Turmat: Kylling Karri
Hard to read (because of compressed packaging). As delicious as Mountainhouse, but packaging was hard to open, had to cut it up. Ate it all up, Mmm-mm.
7. Mountain House: Custard with apple pie
Freeze-dried custard with apple pie. Surprisingly tasty! Add some cinnamon for extra yummieness. Doesn't look like much - and you're right, it's a treat, not a full meal (you can always buy two).
8. Mountain House: Chicken Tikka Curry
After two great dishes, i expected all Mountain House dishes to taste great. Chicken Tikka Curry was more of a.... meh... moment. Had to put a few grains of salt on top, but it was ok i guess.
I wrote down a number of factors, so regardless if you're a hiker, an outdoors person, a prepper you can get something out of the statistics. A thin packaging may be an advantage if you want to pack a few days of food, but if it weighs 400g (almost half a pound) you may want to pack something else.
I considered the situation where it was cold you had to open the packaging with gloves on. Also allergy information and the look and smell of it all. Also, was there an instruction on how to prepare the meal, which usually tells you if there is an oxygen absorber on the inside (you do not want to pour water onto that). Finally for all you preppers, i added shelf life (packaging year followed by a 2 digit best-before-year date)
Some notes for all products:
- No product claims to be lactos friendly. Only a few were gluten friendly.
- No product i've tried is implicitly allergy friendly or vegetarian (There are veggie food that is freeze dried though).
- Add seasoning (extra spices or salt), most are pretty lame in flavour.
- The fill line can be clearly marked on the inside or outside, sometimes it very small to see, but it is there. Sometimes it says fill with "x00 ml", impossible to do out in the field (it's not like we bring measuring cups into the forest!). In that case just fill up to a bit over the content.
- Satisfaction / Fullness: No one scored good. It's an average sized meal for non-gourmands, so after a few days in the wilderness you may wan't to drop in at Burgerking on the way back, unless you're a prepper and it's the end of the world...
(and yes, i love Curry Chicken.)