For people like me who make their own lightweight backpacking food, it’s exciting to find a purveyor that offers something a little different from the mainstream companies. Redwick’s Preserves is one of those rare finds. Redwick’s is a family-owned operation out of Seattle that makes all kinds of freeze-dried foods, ranging from whole steak to roasted onions.
Redwick’s isn’t easy to find unless you’re looking. You won’t find them at your local store or on Amazon as they only sell their products on Ebay. They maintain a Facebook page where you can get information and message them with questions. They may not always have their full line available on Ebay so I recommend scrolling through their Facebook page to get an idea of the yummy range of foods they have. They have a large selection, but the important thing to know is, if you don’t see it, ask them. They can probably make it for you and they are constantly experimenting with new products.
Here are some examples of interesting freeze-dried products they have:
- Andouille sausage
- Ham chunks
- Charbroiled flank steak
- Flame-grilled Teriyaki glazed chicken breast
- Salmon burgers
- Cream cheese
- Mango powder
- New York Style Cheesecake
- Ice cream rocks
Redwick’s was kind enough to send me a box of samples and I’ve had so much fun this summer using their products to test new recipes for the next edition of The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker’s Guide to Meal Planning. I’ve purchased some items on my own as well. I generally prefer to assemble meals from freeze-dried instead of home-dehydrated ingredients as they are lighter and have a longer shelf life.
The freeze-dried ham chunks, pineapple and roasted onion were a big hit in a recipe I’m working on for Hawaiian Ham and Rice. The pineapple tasted so bright and sunny and, though the texture was necessarily different from fresh pineapple, it gave the perfect balance to the ham. I normally use plain old minced onion in my recipes but the roasted onion had that wonderful grilled flavor that you would expect in real food, so that was a big enhancement. Mixed with instant rice, homemade bouillon crystals, True Lime and peas, this was a very tasty meal that my husband raved about.
A new product, whole small shrimp, was another hit with Steve, though I thought my recipe for Lime Cilantro Shrimp still needs a little work. The shrimp was good but the recipe overall was too dry so I need to work on a sauce. I dehydrated fresh cilantro and used instant rice and instant guacamole (Alpine Aire). The guacamole and Redwick’s shrimp saved the day.
The most audacious product I tested was the New York steak. I just couldn’t imagine what was going to come out of the package. I kept feeling the packet to ascertain what form it was in. I’ve only seen ground meat or chunks of meat freeze-dried but this was a whole, entire New York steak. I wrote to Redwick’s asking what I should do with it and they wrote back that I should use it however I would normally use a steak. That made sense but I was still uncertain. In camp, we plopped it into a bowl, covered it with hot water and waited. It was a little like watching one of those compressed sponge sheets rehydrate, though of course it wasn’t that flat. We were backpacking with a group, one of my introductory backpacking classes, so we each tried a taste. It tasted like real steak! However, it was a bit dry, which isn’t surprising. It was comparable to an overcooked steak, but it’s not as if we expected a tender, juicy steak from a product that has had 98% of its moisture removed. Everyone liked the flavor and came up with suggestions for how to use it, including cutting it into pieces for chili, spaghetti or a cream sauce.
I’ve tried a few other Redwick’s products. The freeze-dried strawberries were excellent in our cereal but that was one product that I can find from several different vendors, so it wasn’t as unique as some of the other offerings. The freeze-dried ground beef was good quality and rehydrated better than my usual home dehydrated version. The asparagus had good flavor with a texture like slightly overcooked veggies. I still have the Andouille sausage and haven’t had a chance to make my Cajun recipe yet, but I look forward to trying it.
The Redwick’s label could use a little more information. It contains the standard Nutrition Facts with serving size, calories and nutrition breakdown, as well as preparation instructions. However, it does not contain any information about how many servings are in the package either by weight or product count. For the shrimp, it states that seven shrimp is one serving. I thought perhaps the package only contained one serving but upon opening it, it was apparent that it contained at least four servings, maybe more. The cooking instructions say to mix 1/4 cup of hot water with one cup of shrimp, but one cup would hold many more than seven dried shrimp. It doesn’t state how many servings one cup would be. This makes it difficult to plan, especially for a thru-hike when large quantities may be needed.I ended up eyeballing it and used the whole package of shrimp in a recipe for two people.
Redwick’s doesn’t always have a complete line of products available on Ebay so I tend to purchase staple items elsewhere, but for unusual, tasty foods that you might not find anywhere else, Redwick’s Facebook page is worth visiting online.
Redwick’s Preserves offers high quality, flavorful freeze-dried foods that are idea for backpacking. Their unique and varied selection inspires creative meal planning for backcountry meals.
For other food sources, see my list of suppliers of healthy backpacker-friendly foods on my Backpacking Resources page.
For recipes and meal planning tips, check out my book, The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker’s Guide to Meal Planning.
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.