Instant mashed potatoes are a backpacking food staple, but have you ever read the ingredients list on the packages sold at the store?

Instant mashed potatoes from a leading brand: Potatoes, romano cheese blend [romano cheese (cow’s milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes), whey, disodium phosphate, lactic acid], salt, partially hydrogenated oil (contains one or more of the following: soybean, sunflower, cottonseed), coconut oil, corn syrup solids, whey, sugar, nonfat dry milk, natural and artificial flavor, mono and diglycerides, calcium stearoyl lactylate, artificial color, autolyzed yeast extract, potato maltodextrin, dipotassium phosphate, spice, sodium acid pyrophosphate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, soy lecithin, sodium bisulfite, citric acid, mixed tocopherols and less than 2% silicon dioxide added as an anti-caking agent.

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If you’re looking to cut back on your chemical intake, it’s easy to make and dry homemade mashed potatoes for one-pot trail meals.

Potato Bark

Ingredients: Potatoes, fat free (vegetable, beef or chicken) broth, salt & pepper

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How to Make Potato Bark:

  • Boil 2 ½ pounds of peeled potatoes until soft.
  • Mash with 16 ounces of fat-free vegetable, beef, or chicken broth. DON’T add milk or butter because the fats could spoil. Add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Run mixture through a blender until creamy.
  • Cover dehydrator trays with parchment paper or non-stick sheets and spread mixture about an eighth inch thick.
  • Dehydrate at 135° for approximately eight hours until potatoes are brittle.
  • After five hours of drying, peel off the sheet of potatoes and flip it over to better dry the underside.
  • Snap dried potato sheet into pieces. I call this “bark”

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Yield: 2½ pounds of potatoes will yield two cups of potato bark and weigh about 5½ ounces.

A wide variety of complete meals can be made by combining potato bark with dried meats and vegetables.

  • Dried Meats – Ground Beef or Turkey, Deli Ham or Chicken
  • Dried Vegetables – Corn, Peas, Carrots, Green Beans (Or all of those as Mixed Vegetables), Bell Peppers, Onions, Chives, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Okra, Broccoli

One Large Serving:

  • ¾ cup Potato Bark
  • ⅓ cup Dried Meat
  • ⅓ cup Dried Vegetables
  • Rehydrate with 1¾ cups boiling water

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How to Cook a Mashed Potato Meal on the Trail

  1. Combine potato bark and dried ingredients with water in pot and soak for five minutes.
  2. Light stove and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for one minute. Mashed potatoes warrant a little closer attention while cooking than rice or pasta. Be prepared to lift the pot off the stove and add a little extra water if needed.
  3. Turn off stove and wait ten minutes with the lid on the pot.
  4. If desired, you can add one or two tablespoons of powdered milk and powdered cheddar cheese after you turn the stove off. I use Nido® Instant Whole Milk and cheese powder borrowed from Annie’s® Mac & Cheese.

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