While food reviews aren’t exactly the primary focus of WildIndiana.com, we were please to have the opportunity to review the complete selection of Hi Mountain Seasonings new Camping Meal line of outdoor foods.
We became interested in the Hi Mountain products after using their lineup of jerky cure and summer sausage spices this fall. After using spice mixes from a variety of manufacturers over the years, we found that the Hi Mountain line of products is not only the best tasting but one of the better values in a packaged mix.
When we discovered that they were venturing into the camping food market, we were intrigued. After a pleasant meeting with the President of Hi Mountain Seasonings Hans Hummel at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, we were sent all four of the initial offerings for a trial run.
The food comes in a heavy plastic pouch that only requires the addition of boiling water and, after 15-minute wait, offers up two tasty servings. All of the ingredients are dehydrated and therefore cost less and take up less space than comparable freeze-dried food. More importantly, they taste better than freeze-dried.
Now, after two camping trips, here is our scorecard on those initial four dishes;
Campfire Chili Macaroni– As this was our first test of the Hi Mountain camping foods , we were a little too excited to wait the required 15 minutes before sampling the product.
It proved very tasty, even with the crunchy texture of the not-completely-rehydrated beans.
Lesson one: you really have to wait 15 minutes for everything to fully rehydrate.
Overall, in taste and appearance the chili was much like something you’d cook on the stove at home. That might sound like damning with faint praise but when you consider that a few minutes prior this dish was collection of dust and rocks, it is remarkable that the taste and consistency was something far-removed from standard dried fare.
While the macaroni, beans and other ingredients were unremarkable, the defining characteristic is the depth of the spice profile used in the seasonings. As we expected from this company, the complexity and great flavors indicated that someone went to a great deal of trouble in developing this dish rather than just dumping in some generic dried tomato base and a few flakes of garlic.
Hot Carmel Apple Crunch– This was our dessert and proved POWERFUL. After the required waiting period, we opened the pouch and inhaled a strong aroma of apples, caramel and cinnamon with a slight whiff of cranberies. After topping with the included pouch of granola, we dug into the thickened mass of apples
The texture was like that of a good apple cobbler, a thick and creamy sauce surrounding the apples, punctuated by the granola.
The interesting thing was the strength of the spices and overall taste. By no stretch was it unpleasant but it was rich and strong, almost too much so. This is one that might be better in a smaller portion size. In fact, the recommended “three serving”-sized pouch might be completely accurate on this particular item.
Green Chili Casserole– The taste? Incredible. The look..well…to be honest, one of my fellow backpackers described it as “identical to vomit.” We must admit that we likewise shared a little trepidation at the appearance of the casserole.
The name is somewhat deceiving as the meal is actually more of a thick stew of rice, ground beef, tomatoes, chilies and corn. In texture, it is almost identical to a good gumbo; in taste- incredible!
Our first tentative sampling, based on the appearance, was only a little bit on the spoon carefully slurped down. The assembled group around the campfire waited expectantly for a reaction; being guys, I’m sure they were hoping for some type of violent up-heaving if not outright seizure. However, trying to master understatement, I replied to the inquires with “good…..pretty good….in fact, it’s damn tasty.”
They looked somewhat let down.
It would be hard to ruin meat and rice in any case but Hi Mountain has taken the humble base and placed a blend of spices that is savory, complex and satisfying. It is also spicy enough that wimpy-tongued diners might find this one a little challenging. To our somewhat burned-out gustatory sense, we’d rate it a medium, though keep in mind that we consider pickled jalapeno peppers eaten from the jar to be a mild appetizer.
This one is a definite keeper. In fact, we’d serve this one at home for dinner if they would only sell the mix in our local supermarket.
Cajun Beans and Rice– This is another rich dish with a complex, tangy and satisfying flavor profile. With a coansiderable mount of spice in the thick sauce that envelopes the rice and beans, your dinner guests would be raving if you served this dish at home. Of the group, this ran a very close second to the Green Chili Casserole as our favorite.
Conclusion: Long ago we dropped the prepackaged ‘camping food’ from our pack and simply brought along a few favorites from the grocery. After having tried prepared food from virtually all the major camping food manufacturers, we had grown jaded on the lot. After eating too many watery sauces and chemically-enhanced entrees that taste like they’ve been sitting in a warehouse for three decades, we’ve pretty much given up on purchasing our victuals at the camp store.
However, we are reconsidering that position as Hi Mountain has raised the bar in term of taste. Based upon the complexity of the flavors, it appears that Hi Mountain has spent a considerable amount of time in the test kitchen trying to find the best balance among the myriad of ingredients. The only downside we can find: there are only three entrees and one dessert to choose from.
Note on serving size: each packet “serves three.” If you’ve ever eaten any camping food on the trail, you know that most camping food “feeds four” packages will only serve one average-sized male after he’s put six or ten miles under his boots. In the case of Hi Mountain foods, we ourselves did finish one package at a sitting but just barely. For the average-sized person, a good bet would be one package to serve two.
Cost: Suggested retail is $7.99
Hi Mountain Foods on Amazon:
Information From Hi-Mountain Seasonings, Inc.
Just Add Hot Water for a Delicious Meal
Hi Mountain Seasonings Introduces New Camping Meals
RIVERTON, Wyoming (January 11, 2011) — World renowned for its jerky cure and seasonings, Hi Mountain Seasonings is pleased to announce the launch of a new line of camping, backpacking or outdoor foods. Four freeze-dried meals—Cajun Beans & Rice, Green Chile Casserole, Campfire Chili Macaroni and Hot Caramel Apple Crunch—will be the first offerings in this line of great-tasting, convenient, easy-to-prepare meals that boast a very long shelf life.
Hi Mountain Seasonings’ new Camping Meals are perfectly preserved, and there is no change in the shape, flavor, nutrition or texture of the food once restored to its original form by adding hot water to the resealable foil packet. Each of these four new meals contains three servings per packet, but they weigh only eight or nine ounces apiece, making them about 90-percent lighter in their freeze-dried form. They are easy to transport in a backpack or travel bag, providing great tasting meals wherever your adventures take you.
The Cajun Beans & Rice meal ingredients include dehydrated red beans, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, celery and precooked long-grain rice. Each of the three servings in the packet contains 230 calories, 9 grams of protein, 52 grams of carbohydrates and only 3.5 grams of total fat.
The Green Chile Casserole ingredients include precooked long-grain rice, dehydrated black beans, onions, tomatoes, corn, green chili peppers and ground beef. Each of its three servings contains 230 calories, 8 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates, and only 4 grams of total fat.
The primary ingredients in the Campfire Chili Macaroni are dehydrated red beans, black beans, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic and macaroni noodles. Each of its three servings contain 270 calories, 12 grams of protein, 58 grams of carbohydrates, only 3 grams of total fat and no saturated fat.
Hot Caramel Apple Crunch, which is perfect for breakfast or dessert, includes dehydrated apples and cranberries, brown sugar, spices, cinnamon, granola and whole oats. Its three servings contain 220 calories, one gram of protein, 53 grams of carbohydrates and a single gram of fat.
The new convenient camping meals are available online at www.himtnjerky.com and at retailers and specialty stores nationwide for $7.99 per packet.
Next time you are on the go, be sure to grab one of Hi Mountain Seasonings new Camping Meals. You never know where your adventure will take you, but when you pack Hi Mountain Seasonings Camping Meals for your trip, you won’t be going hungry!
Hi Mountain’s entire line of products, cooking tips, instructional videos, and recipes are also available at www.himtnjerky.com, and the products can be found at high-quality sporting goods stores, farm and ranch stores and your local grocery stores.
Located in the heart of Wyoming, Hi Mountain Seasonings was founded in 1991. It is the premier manufacturer of kits for homemade jerky and sausage. Hi Mountain Seasonings has successfully captured distinct, traditional Western flavors in its Jerky Cure & Seasonings, Western Style Seasonings, Bacon cures and other products that make up the unique line of gourmet Western seasonings. For additional information, write: Hi Mountain Seasonings, 1000 College View Drive, Riverton, WY 82501; call toll-free 1-800-829-2285; or visit the company website at www.himtnjerky.com.