Long time hikers and backpackers have known for years that the gold standard in trail food has been food pouches from Mountain House. Then Y2K rolled around and an entirely new crop of enthusiasts turned to Mountain House for “survival food”.
Here we are, many years later and guess what? Mountain House is still, in my opinion, the gold standard.
Lucky for me and lucky for us, I have a fantastic relationship with the folks at Mountain House (technically, Oregon Freeze Dry), and am often on the receiving end of “hint hint wink winks” relative to new things happening within their company. The best part, of course, is that as soon as the information is released to the public, I get to share it with you!
With that introduction, I want to bring you up to date on one of the newest studies relative to freeze-dried product packaging (I was shocked!), and also share with you a Mountain House taste test I did using two of their newest meals: Chicken Fried Rice and Italian Style Pepper Steak.
Oops! I forgot to mention that I have two cases of the newest MH food pouches to giveaway, one each to two different readers. More about that in a moment.
Taste Test: Chicken Fried Rice Verses Italian Steak
As I said, two of the newest products in the Mountain House product line are Chicken Fried Rice and Italian Style Pepper Steak Pouch. Both were introduced in 2015 and are just now entering mainstream distribution. Which one is best?
First let me say that there is a lot of subjectivity when it comes to taste-testing. At the end of the day, here is the criteria I use:
Does it taste good?
Was it filling?
Is there an aftertaste?
Does is smell fresh before it is cooked?
Does is smell funny or “off” after it is cooked?
How accurate were the cooking directions?
Now that you know all of that, I will tell you that I preferred the Chicken Fried Rice and Shelly aka the Survival Husband preferred the Italian Style Pepper Steak. According to him, “by a long shot”. Why did I prefer the Chicken Fried Rice? Green peppers don’t like me so I don’t like them back. Sorry, if you were expecting a more technical reason but that really is it!
Both meals were a cinch to prepare. Plus, and this is BIG news, for the first time ever, the amount of water specified in the directions was the correct amount. When I say the first time ever, I mean that. In the past, not only Mountain House, but other brands I have tried call for far too much water. The meal always ends up too soupy for my taste.
I am happy to see that the product engineers at Mountain House have figured this out and are now revising the amount of water required to prepare their tasty meals.
As far as the rest of my criteria goes, both products passed with flying colors, including the all-important smell or sniff test. One other thing I should mention because I know it matters to many of you: The Italian Style Pepper Steak is Gluten- Free.
The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.
In the News
You know how I am always recommending that home-sealed Mylar or metalized bags be put in a bucket to provide secondary protection from the enemies of food storage. Pests, especially, can get into Mylar bags but imagine my surprise when I read about something called “water permeability”. I had no idea.
This study set me straight: Mountain House Forecasts Potentially Soggy Future for Major Brands of Survival Food. The gist of it can be summarized as follows:
“In an ironic twist, brands marketing their food primarily as “survival” or “long term food storage” use packaging that can allow significantly more moisture to reach their food over time than brands that market their food for backpacking and outdoor activities. Of all brands tested, Mountain House packaging was the least permeable to moisture.”
Keep in mind, this applies to metalized bags and Mylar, and not to buckets or #10 tins which have a physical moisture barrier. Pretty darn eye-opening if you ask me. All I can say is that when it comes to what we enduringly call “Survival Food”, there is a lot more than what meets the eye.
The Final Word
Whereas I am a huge proponent of storing bulk foods for the long term, I also personally store and recommend that you store a supply of freeze-dried meals. Freeze dried meals, in pouches or tins, are great for those times when hands-on meal preparation is not an option.
That said, without question, FD meals and meal pouches will be more expensive than cooking from scratch. For that reason I recommend that you try before you buy. Do the taste test before purchasing in quantity.
And for those that say “Who cares what it tastes like? If you are hungry enough you will eat it?”
Dollar for dollar, prices are similar. Why not buy something you will actually enjoy? In times of stress following a disaster or disruptive event, eating something you like may be one of the very few comforts you have. All things being equal, I will reach for Mountain House.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Where To Buy Mountain House
Mountain House products are widely available. My favorite vendors include:
From the Bargain Bin: Here are my favorite cast iron items. Have any questions or doubts about using cast iron? Read 7 Tips for Cast Iron Mavens.
Cast Iron Skillet with Hot Handle Holder: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from salmon, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. For under $25, there is no excuse not to own this survival basic. Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers, a must have for cleaning those food bits from your cast iron cookware.
Lodge Dutch Oven/Camp Stove: I originally purchased this Dutch oven because it was so darn cute. But over time, I have learned to love it for its versatility. Remember, a camp stove is designed so that you can bake with it by arranging charcoal on top of the lid as well as underneath the Dutch Oven itself.
OXO Steel Dish Brush: I use this brush exclusively for cleaning cast iron. It has never seen soap and I plan to keep it that way.
Ove’ Gloves Hot Surface Handler: I cannot say enough about these hand and arm protectors. I have permanent scars from hitting my arm on the rack of my oven. I can only imagine what I would look like if I did not use these with my cast iron cookware. Forget the colorful silicon hot pads. These are 1000 times better!
US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather: These well-priced gloves provide complete heat and burn protection. They are made of soft and supple top grain leather for comfort and pliability, plus they have an internal liner gives more comfort and durability.
Four Silicone Brushes: I call these”mop thingies”. Great for layering a nice thin coat of oil on your cast iron pans.
Lodge 5-Quart Double Dutch Oven and Casserole with Skillet Cover: This is another cool piece. This Dutch Oven does not have legs and is designed for indoor use – but it can be used outdoors too. Just don’t forget the Ove Gloves.
Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 15 Inch Cast-Iron Skillet: Similar to the 12” skillet only bigger. Actually, quite huge (and yes, I finally have one!).
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