I love mashers in any form. Mashed yams, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed squash. Comfort food! Recently I was playing with my Cauliflower Couscous recipe, and decided to try making dehydrated cauliflower mashers for the trail. We all need more veggies in our diet, so I thought why not?
Turns out cauliflower mashers are simple to make, they cook up light and fluffy, and they taste great. Sometimes I make them as a side, and sometimes I add them as a carb right in my Greek-inspired Backcountry Beef Hash.
Expect low dried volume!
Most mashed foods rehydrate to less than their pre-drying volume. Why? The air space is reduced in the mashing and drying process, and it rarely returns to the same volume as when the food was fresh. This is especially so with cauliflower – when fresh, the florets hold a whole lot of air space, but you don’t get a lot of that air space back upon rehydration. So much so, that I was shocked the first time I made these, and actually made the recipe again to verify I’d done it right. Which I had!
So don’t worry about the dried volume – you’re still getting the same nutrients and calories. And who can complain about it taking up barely any room in a backpack? Added benefits: Cauliflower is a great source of dietary fiber, Vitamins C, K, and B6, as well as Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese.
Make a bunch to last the season
I like to double this recipe; you get all the chopping and prep out of the way in one swoop, and then you can just pull what you need when you’re trying to add valuable carbs to your backcountry menu – all season long! When I make these, I like to save some out fresh and eat it that day. It’s so tasty! Strange but true: You won’t ever catch me putting cauliflower fresh in a salad. I don’t really care for the taste. But I love it as couscous or mashers!
Here’s an easy recipe to make dehydrated cauliflower mashers for the trail.
Dehydrated Cauliflower Mashers recipe
Fresh: Makes 4 cups, or eight 1/2-cup servings.
Dried: This recipe may dry down to a mere half cup, depending on the cauliflower you use! The best way to measure servings once dried is to weigh the total, and divide it by eight.
Rehydrated: Each serving makes about ¼ cup.
Pack for later in camp:
PER SERVING: ½ to 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil or more to taste (olive has a stronger taste; coconut is sweeter).
1. Chop the cauliflower florets into 1-inch pieces. Measure out at least 8 heaping cups.
2. Steam the cauliflower and the garlic separately, until soft. Strain well. Let cool a bit.
3. In stages, place the steamed cauliflower and garlic in proportional amounts in a food processor and blend till it has the consistency of heavy mashed potatoes. Don’t try to do it all at once.
4. Place the mix in a giant mixing bowl, sprinkle on the salt, and stir well to make sure all ingredients are dispersed. Add any other herbs or spices you might like. You should end up with about 4 cups fresh mashers:
1. Prepare trays:
If using a square dehydrator (I use a 9-tray Excalibur), cut the parchment paper long enough to curl both edges under so it catches and holds when you slide it in the dehydrator. This will keep it from blowing on top of the mix and sticking to it.
If you have a round dehydrator, use the fruit leather trays that came with it, or cut the parchment paper to fit.
Oven: Lay out parchment paper on two full-size cookie sheets.
2. Spread the mix out as thin and evenly as you can. This stuff needs to dry slowly, so make it really thin.
3. Dehydrate at 135°F for 4 to 6 hours, until the mix is crunchy and dry. As the mix dries, check occasionally to break up any wet spots. If in doubt, dry longer.
Oven drying will take longer, since there isn’t the same air flow. If you have a good self-regulating oven, you can prop the door open a bit with a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape. Use an oven-proof thermometer in the oven to make sure the temperature is maintained.
4. Remove from dehydrator or oven, and let cool completely.
5. Carefully peel the mix off the parchment paper into a large bowl, and crumble it with your hands. As I mentioned above, the volume will be surprisingly small; don’t worry about that.
6. Separate into eight portions and package in ziplocs. I find the easiest way to measure out servings once dried is to weigh the total, and divide it by eight. I use this nifty kitchen scale. *** (see below)
7. Label with date, ingredients and serving size (really – if you don’t, in a month you’ll forget how much each baggie serves, and you’ll think you’ve portioned it wrong because the volume is so small).
8. Store in a cool, dark place. The freezer assures the longest shelf life; make sure your container is truly airtight, or moisture will get in and ruin the food.
REMEMBER to bring your oil of choice on the trip, to add before serving!
***Alternate storage method: When I make a big batch like this, I measure its total volume; do the math on how much each serving measures up to; package it all up in a large glass jar; and clearly label the jar with how many servings are contained within and the measured volume of each serving. Then as I do trips, I just measure out how many servings I want by volume, package them in ziplocs with serving sizes on them, edit the jar label, and toss it back in the freezer or cabinet.
1. To rehydrate, combine each serving with 1 to 2 TBS treated hot water.
2. Stir to make sure all particles are mixed in the water, and let sit for a couple minutes.
3. Add 1 TBS water at a time until the desired consistency is created.
4. Add the oil, and more salt if desired. Black pepper is a nice addition if you are not in AIP elimination phase.
Alternate serving method: Put a portion right into your soup or stew just before serving.
- To rehydrate, combine each serving with 1 to 2 TBS treated hot water.
- Stir to make sure all particles are mixed in the water, and let sit for a couple minutes.
- Add 1 TBS water at a time until the desired consistency is created.
- Add the oil, and more salt if desired. Black pepper is a nice addition if you are not in AIP elimination phase.
Rehydrated cauliflower mashers won’t sell any cars, but they sure taste good! Below is one serving; only a quarter cup rehydrated, but it equals a half cup of fresh cauliflower mashers. Carb up for the trail!