In part 2 of this short series we’ll be looking at how to process and package your M&V for the field. The format we’re looking at here is the “block”, which is essentially a hardened cake of the once-powdered ingredients. The block format makes the M&V far more resilient in the field, meaning that when you need to use it, it’ll be mostly intact and ready make into stew (yum) or “rissoles” (nom nom nom). Part 3 of the series will deal with mankind’s attempts to turn what looks like a non-food into a tasty and satisfying meal.
If you have a domestic vacuum sealer, then your work is done. You may simply seal up portions of the powder and throw it into your pack or emergency kit. The powder vacseals very well, far better than “textured” dehydrated M&V since there’s absolutely no danger of the powdered ingredients puncturing the bag and losing the vacuum and the long shelf life the vacsealed item enjoys.
To make M&V blocks:
Mix your powdered M&V with a little water. To make the blocks we have to wet down the powder so it can be moulded into cakes. Keep in mind that the more water you use, the longer the blocks will take to dry. Use the absolute minimum it’ll take to allow you to mould the cakes/blocks.
Use just enough water that you make a dry, crumbling dough. At this stage, you can add a small amount of vegetable shortening, but the operative word is “small”. This vegetable shortening, being a fat/oil will give you more options when preparing a meal out of your M&V block. It’s not necessary and in the accompanying photos, you can see I’ve forgone the vegetable shortening and sprayed the baking tray with a little olive oil.
With your hands you can mould the dry, crumbling dough into thin cakes, or you can press the dough into a lightly-greased egg ring. Place the cakes onto a baking tray or dehydrator tray.
Place the tray into the oven or dehydrator. If using a dehydrator, set on medium and dry for 6-8 hours. If you’re using a domestic oven, heat at a low heat (approx 120 deg C/250 deg F) for 6 hours, turning after 3 hours. As long as all the moisture is driven off, you will be left with a rock-hard cake of emergency ration M&V. Here’s some trivia for you – this is essentially how they make dog biscuits, and while you’re preparing the dough you may even get a dogfoody whif or two.
The next post in this series will look at preparing your dehydrated M&V for human consumption.