Anyone who does a lot of hiking will agree that one of the rare pleasures on a longer hike is something that tastes fresh. Dehydrated, freeze-dried or otherwise preserved foods are effective, but not always something that can fill that niche. Short of scavenging greens from the local turf, a practice that is not always earth friendly, that means the only solution is to bring something fresh in when going hiking and eating it in the first day or two.
Hiking with Dried Cabbage
One dried food item is the exception to that rule of thumb. Dried cabbage is perfect as a like-fresh food to bring while hiking. It dehydrates in such a way that it retains a firm crunch and it has all of the light-weight properties of any other dehydrated food item.
Cutting the Cabbage for Drying
Unless there is a cabbage shredder handy, the cutting of the cabbage will have to be done by hand. Start by quartering the cabbage into wedges so that each wedge has a portion of the core. Next, remove the core by carefully slicing diagonally along the point where the leaves and the core connect to one another. Throw the core away as it will not be dried with the rest of the cabbage.
Once the core has been removed from all four portions of the cabbage, begin slicing each wedge into strips roughly a quarter inch wide. Place the strips of cabbage into a container of water to rinse away anything that may have been among or on the leaves as you go. Once all of the cabbage has been sliced, stir the shreds a few times in the water and then draw out of the water and place on a towel to drip a bit prior to being dried.
Drying the Cabbage
A dehydrator is needed for this task and while it will only be possible to do a small amount per tray at a time, the cabbage will dry quickly. Most of the thinner leaves will be done within an hour or so and the thick leaves will be done within only a few more.
Place the shredded leaves on the trays loosely and no more than a half-inch thick. As soon as they are finished, remove them from the tray to cool in a thin layer while more are drying. Dried cabbage should be loosely packed into an airtight container once it has had time to cool sufficiently. Moisture cannot be allowed to return to the dried, shredded cabbage or it may mold and be useless for anything, hiking or otherwise.
Basic Usage of Dried Cabbage
To prepare the cabbage for a hiking trip, simply add a handful into a sealed bag, along with any other ingredients desired. Press out the air (don’t worry about crushing some of the shredded leaves) and place them in whatever backpack or food sack will be going along on the hike. Dried cabbage works well in a number of recipes designed for alcohol stoves since rehydration doesn’t require a long boil.
Rehydration is simple in the field. Add either warm or cold water to the bag. There should be enough to fully cover the contents. Allow to soak for ten minutes if the water is hot or at least an hour if the water is cool. Drain the water that was not absorbed at that time and either throw away or save for use in another application with the meal. This water will contain some of the water-soluble nutrients from the cabbage.
Some of the more obvious uses of this crispy treat include making coleslaw by using the dried cabbage, dried shredded carrot, and single serving packets of mayo. Another wonderful application is to pair with beef gravy and some cheese on a tortilla for a crunchy beef wrap. With a little imagination, a person can come up with all sorts of uses for dried cabbage on their hiking trip.