August 7, 2018

Radical dehydration method leads to better backcountry meals

Avid mountain climber, hiker and outdoorsman Denis Mikhailov used to eat uninspired and unhealthy meals on his outdoor adventures — that is, until he was introduced to EnWave Corporation’s revolutionary dehydration technology.

As someone who has explored the backcountry trails and mountains of British Columbia, Canada, Mikhailov prides himself on living a healthy and active lifestyle. Nutrition-wise, he has explored vegetarian, raw vegan and paleo-style regimes, trying to find the perfect diet to fit his lifestyle. On trips, his backpack was often stuffed with uninspiring meals — cheese sandwiches and chocolate bars — that simply filled the gap, but weren’t nutritious enough to fuel an athlete trying to scale mountains and explore rugged trails. What he really wanted was a wholesome, easy-to-prepare meal that was as healthy as it was tasty.

Nomad Nutrition meals ingredient lists

Irish Shepard’s Pie. Potatoes, green lentils*, carrots, coconut milk*, onions, peas, corn, sundried tomatoes*, olive oil*, garlic*, spices*, sea salt*.

Kathmandu Curry. Rice noodles, potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk*, onions, red peppers*, spinach*, carrots, mushrooms*, sundried tomatoes*, olive oil*, garlic*, spices*, sea salt*.

Hungarian Goulash. Potatoes, red kidney beans, onions, red peppers*, carrots, lentils, tomatoes, olive oil*, mushrooms*, garlic*, smoked paprika*, spices*, sea salt*

           *Certified Organic Ingredient

A chance encounter with a guide in the Bugaboos, a mountain range in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia, led to a potential solution. The guide told Mikhailov how to dehydrate his own food, showing him that it was possible to make tasty, energy-packed meals for outdoor excursions.

From that chance encounter a dream was born.

A hiker making Nomad Nutrition’s backcountry curry. Courtesy Nomad Nutrition.

Mikhailov became obsessed with creating healthful, dehydrated meals that could be reconstituted right in the package using just a single cup of boiling water. Today, his company, Nomad Nutrition, offers four dehydrated meals: Kathmandu Curry, Irish Shepherd’s Pie, Indian Red Lentil Stew and Hungarian Goulash. 

Four pillars

In defining Nomad Nutrition’s mission statement, Mikailov came up with four pillars that the meals had to meet.

Each dish, he said, must be:

  • Locally crafted (the company started out in a simple kitchen), and made with wholesome and plant-based (they use organic, non-GMO, whole food ingredients).
  • To meet the needs of outdoor adventurers, they also had to be packed with nutrition.
  • This means that each meal contains just the right amount of healthy fats, lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
  • Finally, just as hikers do when they’re on the trail, the finished product had to be respectful of the environment and carry a small footprint.

With the pillars defined, the next step was to find the right equipment to do the job. A Google search led Mikhailov to a local company, EnWave Corporation, and their revolutionary dehydration technology. REV — short for Radiant Energy Vacuum — was exactly what he was looking for. While other dehydration equipment affects nutrient density, taste and color, Mikhailov was happy to see that REV technology kept them intact.

“The vacuum is used to lower the boiling point of water and then the radiant energy is in the form of microwaves to provide the energy to evaporate the water,” explained EnWave founder Tim Durance, who showcased the technology at Anuga FoodTec in Cologne, Germany. “If you want to go very low it gets more expensive and slower.”

This uniform drying method allows for precise moisture control compared to that of air-drying or freeze-drying technology. This means that a shelf-stable product is possible with a variety of texture possibilities.

“We had a banker say ‘If I didn’t pour the water into it myself I would have thought it was from a restaurant,’” said Mikhailov.

For more uses of REV technology and Nomad Nutrition’s complete story check out the September/ October Produce Processing.

— By Melanie Epp, contributing writer


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