Last month I introduced you to Dutch oven cooking for camping — and now we’re going to go one step further: dehydrating for backpacking or food storage.
I’m a strong believer in keeping your pantry stocked for natural disasters. This chili recipe, which uses cranberry beans, is excellent to have on hand because it takes very little to rehydrate it.
This was the first time I attempted to dehydrate cooked chili. My Excalibur food dehydrator has dried countless apples and other fruits, but never beans.
I searched YouTube for videos on how to proceed and was a little confused about the temperature and the time it takes to completely dry the cooked beans, so I went to a source I trust. I knew Tom Ashenbrenner at Rudy’s: A Cook’s Paradise in Twin Falls, Idaho, would have the answers to my questions! Tom has been dehydrating chili for years to take on backpacking and river rafting trips. He told me I should dehydrate the chili for about 12 hours at 145 degrees.
Since the dried chili weighs less, it makes sense to take it on backpacking and river trips instead of canned beans. Two and a half cups of dry beans that have been cooked and dehydrated stay about the same weight — but the difference is that once you rehydrate them, you end up with double the amount.
This chili recipe has no meat in it. You can add dried chorizo or some other dried meat when you cook it, if you wish. My husband combined dehydrated garbanzos with the Spicy Chili Beans recipe and said it was great!
This chili was cooked in an EZ Bean cooker, but you can use any pressure cooker. Or, if you prefer, soak the beans overnight and then cook them conventionally on the stove until the beans are tender. I also cooked unseasoned garbanzos and then dehydrated them. I’m going to try seasoning them, but they were pretty tasty just as a snack!
Spicy Chili Beans
Makes 2 ½ cups dehydrated
2 ¼ cups dry cranberry beans, sorted and rinsed
¼ cup mild chili powder (you can use less if you want it less spicy)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ yellow onion, diced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon brown sugar
8 cups water
4 teaspoon olive oil
After you have sorted and rinsed the dry cranberry beans, place them and the remaining ingredients in the EZ Bean cooker or pressure cooker. If using the EZ Bean cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and manually set the cooking time to 70 minutes. If using another pressure cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
After the beans are cooked, drain them and line your drying tray with a Teflon sheet. Spread the chili on the sheet and place in the dehydrator. Set the temperature to 145 degrees for around 10-12 hours. Check after 10 hours to see if they are dry.
If you are drying plain cooked beans such as garbanzos or blackeyes, you don’t have to use Teflon sheets on the drying trays.
When you rehydrate the beans, make sure to cover the chili or beans with enough water so they don’t dry out. I recommend about 1 inch above the chili or beans.
Rehydrated chili beans.
Dehydrated plain garbanzos on left, rehydrated plain garbanzos on right.
Be sure to look in our Recipe Library for a printable version of this recipe and others.
Please Instagram photos of your dehydrated beans and make sure to tag @californiabeans!