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  1. #1
    Registered User Grunt's Avatar
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    Default Freeze Dried Meals Safety

    After 14 years of eating these commercial meals I should know this... but, I'm having some doubts? I use the freezer bag method to cook all my meals... simply boil 2 cups of water and pour it into a freezer bag. Days before leaving I unpack my commercial meals (MH; Wise) and put them into a freezer bag... so at the most they have been unpacked for maybe a week to ten days before I consume them. My current planned LASH has me mailing two mail drops and with the time in transit and an additional 3 to 10 days at a mailing location. NOW these meals may have been unpacked for perhaps two weeks or more (I mail my boxes way early) and I'm somewhat concerned about their integrity of these meals now?
    I can mail them in there commercial packaging and that's my plan, however, I'd rather unpack them to mail in smaller packages and avoid the necessity of having to unpack them later when I retrieve them. .

    I've read on here somewhere that Mountain House says to use these meals within a week of opening them but I wonder how long others may have kept them repackaged? I will tell you I once thought I could keep a repackaged meal in my pantry for my next section-hike (6 months), and it was chicken alfredo (milk powder) and one night on the trail I consumed this meal with rain water collected off a shelter rool and in the middle of the night the gut banshee attacked me.

    Long post.... but how long would you keep repackaged freezer dried meals?

  2. #2

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    IMHO, if kept dry, years. The taste does go "off" eventually. I would just vacuum seal the meal with new O2 absorbers if you are worried.

    With respect to getting a stomach ailment from dehydrated food gone bad, my guess is the rain water off a shelter roof is far more likely the cause.

  3. #3
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I buy Mountain House in the number 10 can. Much cheaper that way. I then repack in quart freezer Ziplocs. This year I included 300cc oxygen absorbers in the Ziploc bags. Most of the meals were packed months before I hiked the Colorado Trail. They were fine when I ate them. Taste was good and I did not get sick. I do know what a bad freeze dried meal tastes like, too. I had some MH dinners in their original packaging that were about 25 years old left over from my sailboat delivery days. Out of 4 meals two were definitely bad.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  4. #4

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    Wow,oldest MH meal I ever had was only 9 years past its expiration date.But 25 years impresses me!

  5. #5
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    Wow,oldest MH meal I ever had was only 9 years past its expiration date.But 25 years impresses me!
    25 years is the Use Before Date on my current Mountain House Meals. I also have a few Backpackers Pantry Meals but donít recall their use by dates.
    +9 years? Youíre lucky! 😄
    Wayne

  6. #6

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    You could just mail them to your self in original packaging along with some freezer bags. Repackage on the spot?

  7. #7
    Registered User tagg's Avatar
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    I always repackage commercial meals the way you describe, and have often thrown an unused meal or two into my gear box and brought them on my next trip. Even repackaged in the freezer bag, a few months later they don't taste any different to me and I haven't ever had stomach issues as a result.
    -tagg

  8. #8
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    You could just mail them to your self in original packaging along with some freezer bags. Repackage on the spot?
    Winner!
    Wayne

  9. #9
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    You could just mail them to your self in original packaging along with some freezer bags. Repackage on the spot?
    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    Winner!
    Wayne
    Too much on-trail work, there are much better things to do (eat, drink, wash, socialize, etc). Prepackage them and stop worrying, they will last just fine.

  10. #10
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I have done the freezer-bag repackaging thing for close to 10 years, and as we all know, plans change (like this year!), and I've used repackaged meals up to a year "old", and really haven't noticed any degradation. This really isn't a safety issue, assuming you have a cool, relatively dry place to store your freezer bags. I do suggest squeezing as much air out as possible.

    This year's example: I had 2.5 months of repackaged food ready to go for a 1700-ish (CA) mile PCT hike this year, something interrupted it.... Anyway, when I got home (after one lousy week on the trail) I promptly put all my repackaged meals into a larger bag along with some large desiccant packs (Amazon has them, really cheap) to keep them as fresh as possible, and have been using the meals for shorter hikes all summer, still have a few meals left, the last two I used taste great. The desiccant thing was probably overkill, but what the heck.

    My prepackaged granola cereal breakfasts are pre-mixed with Nido (a whole milk powder) and even those seem to last a long time, even though the Nido can says opened cans should be used promptly.

  11. #11
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Oxygen absorbers can make a difference.

    When getting read for a JMT thru, I wanted to take some dried roast beef that comes in a vacuum-packed glass jar.
    Mostly for space in a bear canister, I needed to repackage these in a vacuum-packed bag. As an experiment a few months ahead of time, I repackaged two of these, one with and one without an oxygen absorber (available from Amazon). The one without an absorber changed color after two weeks. The one with the absorber either didn't change at all or changed so little that... well that's the way I repackaged the roast beef for the trail.

    In my case, I was having to prepare my resupplies about 6 weeks prior to the start of my trip so that I had time to package everything up and ship the resupply at least 3 weeks ahead of time.
    So my repackaged beef had to sit for two months, and seemed fine when I opened them on the trail.

    Did the same with some Mountain House freeze dried chicken. Purchased a can of the stuff and repackaged vacuum-packed serving the size I wanted. Included an oxygen absorber in the package and didn't notice any difference once I opened it on the trail.

  12. #12
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    The off flavors from oxygen are not really dangerous like food poisoning which comes from bacterial contamination. If the food is dry, it more prone to oxidation but should be less prone to bacterial spoilage. The "best by..." dates on product does not mean it is unsafe the day after.

  13. #13

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    I'll often poke a pinhole in my commercial freezer dried meals to squeeze the air out, and then cover the hole with tape. I've had meals last 2-3 months prepped this way without issue.
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  14. #14
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maui Rhino View Post
    I'll often poke a pinhole in my commercial freezer dried meals to squeeze the air out, and then cover the hole with tape. I've had meals last 2-3 months prepped this way without issue.
    I do this as well , makes them alot smaller. Or what about like someone else mentioned do your own vacuum sealing and can't you reuse the oxygen obsorber that comes with these meals? Some of them MH meals you could probably make 2 meals out of as alot of them are 2,3 servings.

  15. #15
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    I was surprised to see a basic goggle search of storing opened MH food got me a guy saying 6-12 months-
    https://www.thereadystore.com/food-s...-life-open-10/

    I've only done 6-8 months using home sealed vacuum sealed pouches and the food was perfect. This coming year will be my first year doing repackaging with #10 cans as up till now I only hike 10 days a year so it made more sense to split up regular MH packs(I'm a small eater).

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