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9 Simple Cold Soaking Recipes For Quality Nutrition and Taste

All hikers could use some useful and simple cold soaking recipes, our options are full of taste while able to be carried in a simple ziplock bag on the trail!
Written By: Josh Koop
January 24, 2020
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When many people hear about cold soaking and the cold soaking recipes they think of bland boring foods that are more like mush. This couldn't be further from the truth if you are willing to expand your horizons and pick up some small things when in town to help give your food some bang!

We are going to cover why you would want to cold soak and some good recipes to get you started on the soaking path. There are also some important and helpful tips and finally some of the cold soaking benefits.

Why Choose to Cold Soak?

If you are like me and you aren't always a fan of stopping to assemble your cook kit, dig out the food, construct everything and then take the time to cook. Once you finish cooking though you are now having to clean, repack and prepare to head out once again.

I instead prefer to cold soak my food preferring to start my food by adding the ziplock to a Talenti container or if you prefer a nicer container then something with a screw lid like the Vargo BOT 700. Then you just add your water, shake it up and put it back in your bag while you continue to hike and put down the miles, then when it is lunchtime you need a spoon and your food and it is food time.

Cold Soaking Tips

  • Must Be Patient And Start Soak Early - Most meals will hydrate within 20-60 minutes. But unlike normal cooking, it’s can be pretty tough to over hydrate your meals.
    • I will typically start my cold soak meal about 1 hour prior to when I plan on eating.
  • Quality Sealing Container Is A MUST - Choosing a container with a watertight, sealed lid allows you to hike while your meal hydrates in your backpack. Also, the quality lid ensures no spillage in your backpack.
  • Need Faster Soaking? - Setting your meal out in the sun will help assist the rehydrating process.
  • Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture - Every once in a while you need to give the container a good shake as this ensures that your meal hydrates evenly.
1

Hiker Trash Style Chicken Pad Thai

When looking to maximize your energy and ease of carrying without cooking then one of the favorites I have found for myself and others is a hiker take on Pad Thai. While many will use peanut butter, I typically prefer PB2 as it can go easily into a plastic ziplock to carry and use anytime without the mess.

Add only about 1/2 as much water as suggested to ensure the noodles absorb all the liquid and you don't end up with a soup. On average, the cold-soaking time required for Ramen noodles is about 30 minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories: 500
  • Protein: 18
  • Fat: 17
  • Carbs: 71
    • Fiber: 4
2

Spam Instant Taters

Mashed potatoes are something that is always quick and easy while being very filling. They also can have a consistency that is a nice change from noodles or couscous if you could use a break, definitely add mayo and additional contents below to bring some additional flair! Below we add in spam for additional protein and fat content and to help add calories.

On average, the cold-soaking time required for Instant taters is about instant (zero) minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories: 400
  • Protein: 22
  • Fat: 61
  • Carbs: 44
    • Fiber: 2
3

Taco Couscous

I'm pretty sure everyone loves tacos, well at least everyone should be! I made this to give myself a little of that taste on the trail as I'm not a big tortilla fan (as far as carrying, they always break and just are a mess for me) so I used the container to hold everything and the Couscous to be a binder and to provide that "tortilla" firmness while also providing more protein.

On average, the cold-soaking time required for couscous is about 30-60 minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
  • Carbs:
    • Fiber:
4

Cheesy Broccoli Rice

This is something I love at dinner time in the house and has become something I love to bring with me when possible. I mean honestly, who doesn't love them some cheese, butter, and broccoli?! Adding in additional chicken or other protein could be added for more texture, it all depends on your calories needed.

On average, the cold-soaking time required for couscous is about 30-60 minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
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    • Fiber:
5

Backpacking Chicken Curry

Curry chicken gives you a little more "high class" feeling to a meal on the go, personally I LOVE curry and having the option to eat it for a meal or two while on the hike is outstanding!

On average, the cold-soaking time required for instant rice and quinoa is about 45 minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
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    • Fiber:
6

Trashy Frito Pie

A big Texas thing is Frito Pie, this is a food which features chili over the top of Fritos chips. This is then able to be eaten by hand or utensil when looking at a way to make something similar for the trail I built the below which is very tasty and I now plan to pre-pack for myself more often!

On average, the cold-soaking time required for beans is about 60 minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
  • Carbs:
    • Fiber:
7

Cheesy Chicken Couscous

Who doesn't love chicken and cheese? This is a nice change of pace to get some more flavors into their meals since there is only so many times you can choose to eat the same meal before you will never want to eat it again.

On average, the cold-soaking time required for couscous is about 30-60 minutes.

Ingredients

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
  • Carbs:
    • Fiber:
8

Beefy Chili Love

Nothing is as amazing as chili to eat since it normally is a labor of love and cooking time, we do our best to simulate it in the cold soaking version below that takes only about 60 minutes to be ready to eat up!

On average, the cold-soaking time required for beans and couscous is about 60 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Scoops - Mountain House Cooked Ground Beef
  • 1 Packet Near East Couscous
  • 2oz red beans coarse grind
  • 1oz tomato sauce finest grind you can do
  • 1oz minute rice
  • About an ounce of cumin, chili powder, fine black pepper, fine red pepper, salt all to taste.
  • To reconstitute, add about 14oz water, mix (shake) well

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
  • Carbs:
    • Fiber:
9

The Original Ramen Bomb

This is a backpacking staple food, especially fits well for soaking. For those of you who aren’t hardcore backpackers, you may not have heard of a Ramen Bomb. I hadn’t heard that name until several months ago, although I have made use of them, in various forms, over the years.

Please don't fret about the sodium content in these foods, yes while many of them are high you are burning through your electrolytes like crazy on a hike and you HAVE to replace them to stop cramps and all kinds of issues. Guess what, if you take in too much salt your body makes you pee to rid itself of the imbalance.

This one will need to sit for a bit, also you need a larger container or a large ziplock to hold this volume of food.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pack of Idahoan Instant Mashed Potatoes – I love Idahoan as they offer many flavor choices, from loaded, chipotle, applewood bacon, four cheese, and more.
    • Or you can also substitute in Stove Top Stuffing for a change
  • 1 Ramen Noodle Package - With or without the flavor packet
  • 1 Foil Pouch Chicken - Adds more protein to increase the quality of your nutrition
    • Could use Spam, salmon, tuna or other things like summer sausage or whatever suits your mood.
  • 1 Packet Olive Oil - Add Calories for almost 0 weight
  • Optional Add Ons:
    • Cheese
    • Sriracha
    • Corned Beef (In place of Chicken or in addition)

Nutritional Info

  • Calories:
  • Protein:
  • Fat:
  • Carbs:
    • Fiber:

Benefits of Going Stoveless

  • Overall Weight Savings 
  • Provide Simplicity While On The Trail
  • Easier, Faster Cleanup
  • Avoid Strong Odors Which Attract Animals
  • Allows For Mid-Meal Snacking
  • Typically Cheaper Than Cooking

Bottom Line

Hopefully, these have given you some good ideas to continue to work from and grow your options for cold soaking and stoveless hiking. It is definitely something which is very personal, you want to enjoy the hike and food is a major player for that. I would suggest everyone at least try cold soaking to see where they stand on the thought and application.

One of the things you would want to explore is whether packing food this way is easier or less complex for you or if this makes it harder, along with the weight savings of not carrying the stove, container, and fuel. As your food weight will still come in about 2lbs per day regardless of cooking preference.

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