Before I took to small-boat cruising in 1980, I did a lot of backpacking and was acutely aware of the weight of everything I had to carry. The longer I planned to stay out on the trail, the more food I needed to pack and the lighter it had to be. Ready-made backpacking meals in the ’70s were expensive and not very interesting, which is putting it mildly for TVP (textured vegetable protein), then a popular camp staple.Fortunately, I could instead carry real food, thanks to the dehydrator my mother used to preserve some of the fruit and vegetables we grew in our backyard garden. For backpacking, I dried a lot of fruit, especially bananas, and my mother’s black-bean soup, which instantly came back to life with a bit of hot water.

Dehydrated black bean soup comes out of the dehydrator in a crumbly consistency Photographs by the author

Black bean soup—made of canned black beans, boxed vegetable broth, diced onions, minced garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper—takes 15 minutes to make, 30 minutes to cook, and a few hours to dry. Puréed and spread on parchment paper, it dries feather-light and is just as tasty when reconstituted.

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