Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hash Browns

I haven't been doing any foodblogging lately, but when I took Rivrdog on his first trip to Cabela's Tuesday, we spotted something we both wanted to try out:

Nonpareil Dehydrated Hash Browns

Thought about it for a minute, and in all the freeze-dried meals I've had, potatoes usually reconstituted very well. At $10 for 8 boxes, each of which makes slightly more than 1 pound of hash browns, we each figured it was worth a try. I made some yesterday, while Rivrdog was out on the highway headed west, and here's my review:

As I mentioned, at Cabela's they were $9.99 for 8 boxes (net wt 4.5 oz each). From Nonpareil directly, it's $11 for 12 boxes (plus shipping). They also have a package of 6 1-gallon boxes for $28.35, if you're planning on feeding a BUNCH of people (66 3-oz servings per gallon box).

Very simple; the directions are clear and straightforward. I added a very small amount of salt and pepper, could have used a little more, but that's individual taste. I also added about 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil to the cast-iron skillet I fried them in while it was pre-heating.

I've not yet made hash browns from scratch, only from frozen, but I couldn't tell the difference between frozen and dehydrated. Quite good. Also good as leftovers - nuked some for Lisa when she got home from work last night, she agreed with the "more salt" I mentioned above, but also agreed they tasted fine. I also threw a few spoonfuls of leftovers into the skillet this morning, across from an egg and a slice of Canadian Bacon - separated from each other, but cooking/reheating simultaneously, and they were good reheated that way as well.

They come sealed in a Tetra-Pak, and do not need refrigeration prior to opening them. There is no "Best By" date on the carton. Nonpareil recommends a shelf life of 1-2 years for best taste, but says as long as they're kept dry, they won't go bad. BTW, I had to call Nonpareil to get that information - and the 800# got answered on the third ring by a HUMAN who could answer my question in unaccented English at 10:00pm Central Time - surprised the crap out of me!

Side Note:
I suspect one could closely duplicate this product by shredding peeled potatoes (either with a food processor, or using a cheese grater) and then dehydrating them on a cookie sheet in the oven on its lowest setting or by using a commercially-available dehydrator. Vacuum-sealing the dehydrated potato shreds should keep them from absorbing any moisture from the atmosphere. If my potato plants do as well as I hope this year, I'll try it once the harvest is in.

Overall Verdict:
Excellent. Cabela's was a little bit more expensive than buying them from Nonpareil's website, but still not expensive. No refrigeration needed, so excellent for storage against power outages. Does require a significant amount of heat to prepare, so keep that in mind - but could be done on a gas stove, or Coleman camp stove, even if your water heater and stove are electric. A single container weighs 5.35 ounces, and, as I said, makes just over a pound of hash browns (verified on my food prep scale), so great for backpacking. Great taste, even as leftovers.

I'll be buying more of these; they get a slot in my long-term food storage, and I KNOW I won't have a problem keeping these rotated - they're also going to go on my breakfast plate on a regular basis.


Blogger George said...

I will offer some to the discriminating palettes at the next Yacht Club cruise I go on. If they go down well with Mimosa Cocktails, they will be a hit and become part of the club's traveling menu.

8:55 AM  

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