Archival food – Dehydrated M&V for emergency rations – Part 1

In the beginning, God created beef and he created carrots, potato and cabbage. Much later, beginning in 1940, mankind screwed around with these ingredients, did unspeakable and horrible things to them then came up with dehydrated M&V – Meat & Vegetable – for emergency rations. Thankfully, dehydrated M&V has been extinct for decades, and aside from some old heroes’ best-forgotten memories, the general public remains blissfully unaware that it ever existed. It is my solemn duty to change all that. Sorry.

Different in texture to the standard dehydrated M&V, the emergency ration item is similar in style and substance to the famous German Erbswurst soup tablets.

To make your own authentic M&V emergency ration “plugs”, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Ground beef
  • Thinly chopped cabbage
  • Thinly chopped carrot
  • Potatoes (or potato powder)
  • Skim milk powder
  • Wheat germ (optional – originally added to the wartime recipe for “vitamin protective coverage”)
  • Table Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable shortening

Additionally, you’ll need the following tools/Appliances/Implements:

  • A hot plate, burner or fire
  • A frypan or mess tins
  • A billycan, canteen cup or saucepan
  • An electric oven or dehydrator (or if you’re in the field, an insect-screened smoking and drying rack with trays – improvised)
  • Fruit leather trays or baking paper (dehydrator only)
  • flat biscuit trays (electric oven only)
  • Coffee grinder or food processor (or if you’re in the field, a mortar and pestle – improvised)
The dehydrator.  One of these is nice to have, but is not a necessity. An oven on low heat or even an insect-screened drying rack outside on a sunny day will do the same job, albeint slower.

The dehydrator. One of these is nice to have, but is not a necessity. An oven on low heat or even an insect-screened drying rack outside on a sunny day will do the same job, albeit slower.

The Procedure is as follows:

The meat component - minced (ground) beef.

The meat component – minced (ground) beef.

1. Prepare your meat component. Brown the minced beef in a frypan. When cooked through, drain and wash with hot water to remove some of the fat. Spread the washed minced beef onto a fruit leather tray and dehydrate on a medium setting for 8 hours or until it is dry enough to crumble into dust.

Part of the vegetable component - dried mashed carrot

Part of the vegetable component – dried mashed carrot

2. Prepare your vegetable component. Boil carrot, cabbage and onions in separate pans until soft. Mash separately – note that due to the fibrous nature of the cabbage, you’ll need to food process it after boiling. Save the some of the boiling water to mash with, since it contains valuable vitamins and minerals. Place each mashed component onto a separate fruit leather tray and flatten it out into the thinnest possible layer. Dehydrate for 8-10 hours on a medium setting. It’s ready when it has the consistency of a fruit roll-up (fruit leather) or soft beef jerky.

Some other ingredients - potato powder, milk powder, salt, pepper

Some other ingredients – potato powder, milk powder, salt, pepper

Dried flakes prior to grinding

Dried ingredients prior to grinding

3. Mix your M&V. Chop or slice your dried vegetables with a sharp knife, then throw into a mixing bowl along with the other dry ingredients. DON’T add the vegetable shortening just yet.

Coffee grinding the flakes

Coffee grinding the flakes

4. Place the mix into a coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle if you’re going low/no-tech in the field) and grind to a fine powder. You know you’re done when it has the consistency of powdered milk.

M&V powder

M&V powder

 

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