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RV Food Storage Dehydrating & Vacuum Sealing Food

Dehydrator1RV Food Storage: Dehydrating & Vacuum Sealing Food

RV food storage is another one of those challenges to RVers because the situations are as varied and individualized as, well, RVers. Some of the factors include food preference, special diets, storage space, weight involved and the rodent prevention factor. What situation you are in with your RV also plays into the decisions about food and storage: are you full-timing, weekending or going on hiking trips? Well, while waiting for the transition to full-timing, I have taken on the experimentation with dehydrating food and vacuum sealing for storage.

We have always believed in being prepared for emergency situations, as our area had devastating floods in 2011. We were blessed to not be flooded, but we were trapped by flooded roadways surrounding us and had no electricity for 4 days. We had our trusty RV Motorhome generator to help us get through those days, and we did so without any panic or fear. As prepared as we were in this situation, we learned we could do more. Living in a RV full-time has the same challenges as a sticks & bricks: electric could be lost, you may have to abandon your RV for a tornado or hurricane. This all led to my learning about food storage for emergency situations, but it also transitioned to general food storage for RV living.

diced tomatoesI purchased a Nesco dehydrator and a Food Storage vacuum sealer for bags and attachments for jars. I did a lot of research on You Tube and would suggest you do the same; these purchases made sense for me financially at the time. The Nesco has 5 trays, with smooth and screen tray inserts. This is so you can choose to dehydrate different size food and do fruit roll-ups, beef jerky or tomato sauce – yes-tomato sauce! Vacuum sealing in bags is really the best way to store in a RV. I have attachments for Mason jar sealing and I have done so in the sticks & bricks, but since mason jars are glass, and have some weight, they really are not the first choice for the RV. Vacuum sealed bags of dehydrated food can last for months. Some folks get oxygen absorbers and/or store in Mylar bags, which means food can store for years. I choose to rotate out the food sooner than years! I did purchase a small tub that is moisture resistant for the RV to store the vacuum sealed bags of food. They really do not take up much room.

I got the dehydrator in the summer, which was great timing to get the freshest produce at farmer’s markets: corn, cucumbers, garlic, mushrooms, and onions, strawberries in season and apples in season. Another reason this is perfect for full-time RVing is because you get to change areas in the country, get that area’s fresh produce, dehydrate and seal to store and enjoy later.

Dehydrated fruitYou do not have to dehydrate food to use the Food Storage vacuum sealer. If you vacuum seal meat and freeze it, it lasts much longer. I do that continually with chicken, steaks, and formed hamburgers. It is a great way to prepare portions ahead of time. Those RVers who love to boon dock for long periods of time, or those far away from grocery stores for extended periods of time, dehydrating and vacuum sealing seems to be a perfect solution for food storage. My husband loves shelled peanuts, so I can buy a large bulk bag of them, then portion them out and vacuum seal them. It lightens the weight a great deal and keeps them fresh for months.

I have dehydrated fruit, vegetables and whole recipes of chili. What about rehydrating? I have dehydrated canned black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and placed all the needed spices into one bag, vacuum seal it and wala! The amount of weight and space you save in the RV is incredible! So all we did was cook up ground beef, throw it and the contents of the dehydrated chili into a crock pot, add the necessary water and magic: it is so cool to see beans and mushrooms rehydrate and taste exactly as delicious as prior to dehydrating – I swear! My husband didn’t believe it until he saw it either.

We love to kayak, bike and go on hikes. You can cut the vacuum bags into snack size bags and prepare in advance so you can grab and go when you are RVing. The space and weight savings for your day pack is amazing. Dried fruit can be eaten alone or mix it in with your own trail mix. This is a picture of dehydrated bananas and strawberries – they are so delicious!

I can tell you that it is far healthier to create your own trail mixes, and far cheaper, than buying store bought that can be loaded with sugar and chemicals you do not need.

Dehydrating takes time, depending on what you are dehydrating. The dehydrator and Food Storage vacuum sealer takes up space. Also, the dehydrator does take electricity, as does the vacuum sealer. The Nesco takes 5.83 amps, the Food Storage vacuum sealer 0.93 amps. I dehydrated 4, 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes and after vacuum sealing measured 2 inches high and 11 inches wide in 4 bags and weight about nothing! So I feel the appliance space use is well worth it.

I am still experimenting. I have yet to try the beef jerky recipe that came with the dehydrator. I want to try dehydrating ground beef. I have just dehydrated eggs – yes eggs – which I will write about in a separate blog. The money savings, the weight and storage space are really beneficial for RVers. Eating healthier food is important. The ability to enjoy NY State apples in the middle of winter is great – having them on the other side of the country in our RV will be magnificent!

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