Nearly fifty years ago, the U.S. Army’s Green Berets needed a better option for Long Range Patrol (LRP) rations. Team Green put out a contract and a company named Oregon Freeze Dry won that bid. The LRP rations that were produced were freeze dried pre-cooked meals that could be re-hydrated by adding boiling water. If this sounds familiar to the pouches of freeze dried meals you bought for camping last year, that’s probably because OFD is the parent company of Mountain House Foods, located in Albany, Oregon.
With almost a half century of experience under their belts, Mountain House is producing the freeze dried meals proven to have the longest shelf life. Third party testing that shows, despite competitors claims, science is on the side of Mountain House’s meals lasting longer than the rest. Testers have opened up 30-year-old meals at Mountain House and found they not only tasted great, they still had sound nutritional value.
I’ve been a consumer of Mountain House’s meals for a while. Not just picking up quick and easy breakfast pouches for early mornings on the mountain, Mountain House’s LRP rations came in handy in the sandbox. During our first trip to Afghanistan, we were subsisting almost entirely on the same 24 flavors of MRE’s that had been in service for decades. Every meal for months was the same grub my dad may have been eating in Vietnam. Culinary fatigue set in fast and while flavor is not the most pressing matter during time of war, any ground pounder will tell you food is a big part of morale. We found a stash of old (very old) LRP rations from Oregon Freeze Dry. They were still delicious.
A side bonus to the freeze drying process? Very light weight. After sucking out all that water; you’re left with dry, crunchy and featherweight food until re-hydration. Not only will it last for years to come, you won’t mind stuffing a couple more into your rucksack when you hit the trail.
I picked up a few meals from Mountain House recently: two entrees, a cheesecake dessert and a LRP meal. The plan was to test out all the meals while camping with the family (five of us). After re-hydrating the Chicken Noodle Casserole meal, we dug in. Bringing home the bacon to the tune of ~900 calories, we passed around the pouch until both adults and all three kids had their fill. There was still a few bites left. Everyone agreed the casserole was delicious, not something most would expect from a meal designed to last from now until my toddlers are all teenagers. The New York-style cheesecake bites were a similar success, the kids couldn’t get enough! The only problem was, after the cheesecake and chicken noodle casserole, all five of us were stuffed. I’ll make sure to let you know how the other two tasted in a future article, likely on top of some scenic peak.
With a wide assortment of meals tailored to warfighters, astronauts, campers, hikers and sportsmen, you might think they would be content with their customer base. However, they also have a full line of #10 cans and “Just in Case” assorted meal buckets. Designed with Emergency Preparedness in mind, the #10 cans have a shelf life of 25+ years.
These astronaut approved meals are good, they’re light and they’re backed by a company who has been in the business for a long while. Get your grub on!
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