I know some of you have already tried some of the items from Mountain House. They offer a huge variety of entrees, vegetables, desserts, wraps and even include low sodium products. Today I’ll be reviewing the #10 cans: in particular, the vegetable stew with beef.
Don’t get confused, first off. It’s # 10, not 10#. (As in ten pounds.) It’s more like number ten. (As in servings.) Actually, the “Servings per container” say nine, but that’s surely a variable given how hungry folks are. Also, the can is sixteen ounces and is a great idea for emergency preparedness, camping (maybe not backpack style) or just a lazy cooking day. I fed my family (Which consists of one ravenous husband, one growing nine year old, and a picky and petite five year old. Oh and me; I’m the normal one. Not really, but I’m writing this-artistic license!) and made enough on the first trial for five people. I had no leftovers but what I did have was rave reviews. From both the testers and the cook.
When I first opened the can, which you need a can opener for, the contents looked like well, dried stew. Potatoes, carrots, peas, beef, onions, corn. There was a (what I thought was) silicone packet to absorb moisture. It wasn’t and my husband had a science-geek moment. Ok, it was more like a five minute dissertation on the coolness and inner-workings of the oxygen absorber. Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. The oxygen absorber, well absorbs oxygen from the contents that would degrade (or rot) otherwise. Even without the presence of water. This is what gives Mountain House’s freeze dried meals such a long shelf life. Ready for the wow factor? The #10 can is shelf stable, unopened of course, for 25+ years. WOW! That is so significant. You can literally buy one now, and have it until the year 2037. That sounds utterly ridiculous, but it’s true. After you open the can, though Mountain House recommends using the contents within 7 days. I did have a moment of surprise. I mentioned earlier that you need a can opener. I’m sure you rugged types would never not have one, but sometimes you forget. I honestly was expecting a pull ring top. I don’t know if a top like that would lessen the shelf life; and I know that the pull rings can break which would then make a can opener necessary. I just had guessed there would be a ring. No big deal, I have a can opener.
Like I said earlier, I made enough the first go around for five. The preparation instructions were easy to follow. There are two ways to prepare the meal. Single serving (this is the method I used, just multiplying the mix and water measurements by 5) and preparing the entire can. Another wow factor. You can open the can, add 7 cups of boiling water to the can, stir, cover and let sit for 10 minutes and you have dinner in the same container. Neat-o!! I so wanted to try this, but there was no way my family would have eaten all of the stew at once. Also, I went onto the Mountain House website and in case you were wondering, yes. You can use cold/room temperature water to prepare the meals. You do need to increase the stand time to about double the listed amount (so about 10-20 minutes). But that is so nifty. Another point to Mountain House for ease of preparation.
So when I served dinner my kids did the usual, “What is that?!” . I just said “Stew. Eat it.” My oldest said it smelled delicious and my picky-pants said it looked good and smelled good too. When they ate it, they said stuff like, “Oh, this is my new favorite” and “I love this stuff”. Uh, really? I cook stew and it takes an hour or more and I get “yum”. Ok, now I’m jealous! My husband was a bit more tactful (smart man) and said that it was very hearty and I agree. There were lots of potatoes, which is great (to replace those carbohydrates) for you hikers. The beef was really tender when revived (I don’t like to say reconstituted, it makes me think of something from a cartoon) and the vegetables weren’t like Styrofoam. That was great-sometimes that happens with other freeze dried meals. Ok, who are we kidding- it happens to most freeze dried meals. Not this one; real stew flavor right out of a can. The other thing I noticed was that the stew was really well seasoned. It was a bit salty, but if you’re exerting a bunch of energy all day, this is something you need to get your sodium levels back to normal.
The next time I used this was when we went on vacation. We go camping with a living history group. These people do everything from making their own soap and beer, to making medieval armor and fighting in it most of the day. My husband is one of the people who fight in the armor all day. And when he’s done he is exhausted, sweaty and hungry. This stew was perfect for re-hydrating and refueling him. I also gave it to my kids when they were turning their noses up at dinner. Which was most of the week. So that means that probably 4 of the 7 nights we camped, I used this can to feed them. Now there was plenty of bread and butter to be had at our camp, so they didn’t eat as much of the stew as they would have at home. I made about one and a half servings each night. They ate and were filled and very happy that Mommy brought along the “yummy stew-stuff”. Honestly, I would have been less embarrassed if they would have just eaten the dinner that was prepared by our camp cook, but I was so glad to have Mountain House come to my sanity’s rescue.
The other camp mates were intrigued as well and while they didn’t actually eat any they did ask questions. (On reflection, I think it was because they knew the kids liked it and they didn’t want cranky kids in camp. Well played gentlemen.) I passed the can around and got lots of, “Oh Mountain House, I like their wraps” or something similar. I told them about the shelf life and they told the camp cook she might not have to work so hard next year. That was when she came over and said that she would love to use these for the boy-scout camp she cooks for most of the summer. I thought that was a good idea. Well, maybe to have on hand in case the power goes out at the scout camp. Which happened to her and she couldn’t use the modern kitchen. The #10 would have helped soothe the savage cub scouts. She took the web address and walked back to her camp kitchen smiling. I think I know what the cub scouts are eating next year. I think I also know what my kids will be eating at camp for lunch from now on.
The #10 can from Mountain House is super easy way to be prepared for an emergency (whether it’s a natural disaster, zombie apocalypse or picky child). The long shelf life means that you can literally buy this and forget about the food part of your emergency kit , which I think is fantastic. Well, for 25+ years anyway. Prices range from $25 to $54 (The former is for chili mac with beef, the latter is for just a can of dried beef) and my choice: the vegetable stew with beef retails for about $35 which breaks down to $3.50 per person if you get ten servings out of yours. I know that is less than what I would spend, per person, to feed my family stew for dinner. If stew doesn’t trip your trigger, they offer about twenty other choices in their Entree category. They also offer breakfast, dessert/snacks and cans of vegetables in the #10 product line.
I think Mountain House covers all the bases here. It’s affordable, long lasting, convenient and delicious. Definitely something you need to add to your stock pile for an emergency or camping. I know I will.
(Thanks to one of our sponsors, Camping Survival for providing the test can to feed Stef’s family during thier trip!)
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