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I would like to know if there is a dry food product available that is a good substitute for vegetable oil or butter.

I want to package dry mixes that I can take camping with me where hopefully all I would need is to add water to cook it.

  • The issue is melting and needing liquid containers, I guess? If you're hoping to save weight, a dry fat may not really help that much, since you have to add something (e.g. maltodextrin) to turn it into a powder. – Cascabel May 9 '14 at 22:12
  • Also, you said you're looking for a "just add water" solution - I guess that means you're not trying to fry/saute, and the oil is just for flavor/richness/calories? – Cascabel May 10 '14 at 0:12
  • Yes, that is the main idea if feasible. For instance, what I am thinking of is a brownie mix that I make. I would love to take it on the trail and am just looking for the easiest way to mix it. – Tammy May 10 '14 at 18:12
  • Baking on the trail sounds like a very hard target, especially something as fussy as a brownie. I expected you to mean something like powdered soup base. – rumtscho May 12 '14 at 20:39
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    Folding sheet metal reflector ovens actually work quite well for baking; a bit extra to be carrying for solo backpacking but not an unreasonable luxury for a larger group. – Chris Stratton Nov 14 '14 at 6:07
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Bisquick is a dry product that contains partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil and leavening. You can get recipe ideas from their website. With the Bisquick, some powdered eggs and powdered milk, you could create all kinds of fun mixes for camping.

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    Jiffy baking mix is also great for camping. In either case I'd take them out of the box, cut the recipes out of the box, and put both in a tightly sealed zip lock bag for protection. – GdD May 10 '14 at 12:32
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    @GdD Yep, same concept. It won't be Michelin star quality food, but everything tastes good while camping! :) – Jolenealaska May 10 '14 at 12:36
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I just take a little vegetable oil in a small Nalgene bottle that seals tight. For a week with 9 people I wouldn't even use up 200ml, and I presume you're doing a shorter trip with less people, so the weight is not an issue. You can then add it to what you're cooking, use it to fry things, etc. (I also take cornmeal to fry pizza or English muffins.) Using regular oil and regular recipes makes a lot more sense than trying to use something unusual.

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You can consider using lard, shortening, or ghee. They are not dry, but they are more easy to store and carry and melt less easily than butter.

In case fat content is a concern, here is a quick list:

Vegetable oils have about 15 gms of saturated fat per 100gms of oil.

Vegetable shortening has about 20 gms of saturated fat per 100gms of shortening.

Lard has about 40 gms of saturated fat per 100gms of lard.

Butter has about 50 gms of saturated fat per 100gms of butter.

Ghee has about 60 gms of saturated fat per 100gms of ghee.

Shortening, lard, and ghee all respond differently to heat, so it helps if you're familiar with how they respond when you're using them to cook. Ghee also has a distinct aroma, so if you or those who would eat the food are not familiar with ghee, you should try it out first before deciding on it.

In addition to this, I am trying to work through your specific use-case. You can still actually use oil or butter. The advantage is that fats don't spoil easily. I'm not sure what or how you intend to cook, but you can consider the following techniques:

If you have chunks of food, like chopped vegetables, pieces of chicken, etc. that you are sure to cook, you can just coat the food in butter, salt, and seasoning, which you can then wrap in foil and store in a container. It will be easy enough to carry without spillage. When you need to cook it, just toss them into the cooking vessel, and cook till they slightly sear. Then, you can add water and let it simmer till done.

If you have things like ground beef or similar food, again you can put butter, salt, and seasoning in the mixture, and make them into small dollops (like meatballs), and you're good to go.

If you can provide more details about what kind of dry foods you are trying to pack, then I am glad to suggest other (possibly more suitable) solutions.

  • I am looking at dry mixes, more as a dessert type thing mainly. Like brownies. I love the sound of your other food things. I'll have to try that. – Tammy May 10 '14 at 18:15
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    Not adding another answer, but my suggestion is that if it's a short trip, like a day or two-day trip, just bake the goods before packing them, instead of looking to bake them at the camp. Brownies are really soggy and nice when in addition to the oil, you add some butter in the mix. Bake them and keep them in well-sealed containers; they will last. – Dhruva Ghosh May 10 '14 at 18:44
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there is a powdered cocoa butter product called mycryo. it's intended for frying, but it might work for your intended purposes. http://www.cacao-barry.com/usen/2516

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    This looks like it might work. What I am looking for is a oil/fat that I can put in the dry mixes instead of using vegetable oil. This looks like it miiiigght work, but I would have to try it first. But, I noticed that this link sends me to a company that only sells to distributors to sell to professionals. I am not a cook or a professional, so how would I be able to purchase a small amount to try? – Tammy May 10 '14 at 18:22
  • @Tammy: You're most likely to find this at a store that sells either the Cacao Barry chocolates or another decent-quality chocolate. They describe it as an all-purpose fat, but I've more frequently seen it used (and used it myself) as a chocolate-tempering aid. You won't be able to get a "small" amount, but you can get one container instead of 8, and it should only cost you $15 or so. – Aaronut May 11 '14 at 12:13
  • @Tammy did you find the dried cocoa butter, and if you did, did you try it? I'm interested in the same thing!!! Where did you find it?? – user29222 Nov 11 '14 at 15:59
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There is a thing called powdered shortening or you can get powdered butter. They are just add water products that you can put in a recipe like that and it will work fine.

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I agree with just making the brownies ahead of time and putting them in zip lock bags.

If you really want something you can make during camping, you could try the 3-2-1 cake recipe. Take a box of angel food cake and mix it with a box of another cake mix (chocolate, vanilla, spice, lemon, etc.). Then take 3 TBSP of the mixture, mix with 2 TBSP liquid (can be anything), and microwave for 1 minute. I'm sure you can adjust it to cook over a fire somehow. I've made this using chocolate cake. To me it still tastes like angel food cake and not very chocolatey. Maybe using any other flavor would be good. You could try it with a brownie mixture. I might work. It will won't give you the brownie texture (it is airy like angel food cake), but it might impart some brownie qualities.

  • I don't see how this is an answer. The question is about trail food, and you suggest microwaving. – rumtscho May 12 '14 at 20:40
  • I wasn't suggesting microwaving, I was giving the directions for conventional methods. If you read the next sentence, I said it could probably be adjusted to cook over a fire. People make cakes when camping all the time by cooking over a fire on a BBQ grill. The OP keeps saying she's looking for a dessert item that can be made, preferably brownies. I made my suggestion because the angel food part of the mix provides any oil and eggs you might need for a typical cake. I'm sorry it's not a good enough answer, but isn't which answer the OP thinks is most relevant the OP's decision? – Brooke May 13 '14 at 23:20
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You could make your own powder oil by adding some maltodextrin to the oil you want to powderize. About 4 gram of maltodextrin to 10 grams of oil.

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