CAMPING - GEAR
We’ve been taste-testing the range of Happy Camper Gourmet pre-cooked meals and now we don’t go anywhere without some of them in our food boxes. If our fridge packs up we won’t starve.
Traditional ways of carrying pre-cooked food that doesn’t need to be frozen or refrigerated are in cans or in freeze-dried packs. Canned food lasts well, but isn’t always top-tasting.
Cans are difficult to pack and, when empty, pose a garbage problem. We’ve yet to find anything in a freeze-dried pack that we can enjoy eating.
Enter the plastic-pack, which is really a flexible ‘can’ that makes pre-cooked food easier to pack and the empty packs are easily disposed of.
Canning as a method of food preservation was pioneered in the 1790s. Later, Louis Pasteur proved that the elimination of microorganisms was the key to preventing food spoilage and illness. Cooking temperatures up to 120 degrees C are needed to achieve this.
Foods that were traditionally cooked (retorted) in cans and then glass jars are now available in tough polymer plastic pouches.
Happy Camper Gourmet retorted products are cooked using a process validated to achieve Commercial Sterility. This means that microorganisms are eliminated. As with canned, cooked food the pouch foods have a long shelf life, although Happy Camper Goumet stresses that the flavour is best up to around 18 months after cooking and packaging. After that the food is still OK to eat, but may not have the desired fresh flavour.
We checked the ease of preparation and the taste of a selection of these meals and were very impressed. As per the instructions we simply popped each pouch into a saucepan of boiling water on our camp stove and enjoyed a tasty meal some 15 minutes later. Those who travel with a microwave can shorten the heating time to around six minutes.
The heating water can be used for washing up afterwards – important when you’re in desert areas and are watching your water usage.
Happy Camper Gourmet meals aren’t cheap, but they taste great and are made from quality ingredients that are almost totally Australian-produced. They can be purchased online or through stockists around Australia. There’s an on-line shop and a list of stockists at: www.happycampergourmet.com.au