Alpine Aire Beef and Potatoes

Reviews of Civilian MREs (Sure-Pak, aPack, etc.) as well as other civilian ready-to-eat food
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elandil
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Alpine Aire Beef and Potatoes

Post by elandil » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:23 pm

Ok, so I will admit it. One of my favorite breakfasts, especially when outdoors, is corned beef hash and eggs. The problem is the cans are heavy, it's next to impossible to find in retort pouches, and it's not real feasible for trips longer than a couple of days, or when weight is a concern. So, I've been looking for a Freeze-dried replacement. Unfortunately, unless someone wants to front me $4,000 for a home freeze dryer, i'm stuck with commercial offerings. So, i'm doing taste tests to find/make the closest clone I can to a beef hash thats freeze-dried or dehdryated, and doesn't require a second mortgage on the house.

So far, Alpine Aire is the only one with any sort of offering.
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As you can see by the destructions, it's an add water, wait, and eat. Or, add water, wait, fry, and eat. Contents include beef, onions, potatoes, and sauce/spices. It definately sounds rather good.

Opening the package did not quite yield what I expected.
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For some reason, I expected cubes. So, the shreds threw me for a moment. However, the smell coming out of the package was rather enticing. Good, beefy smell, undertones of onion, spices adding harmonious notes... Had me looking forward to it. ;)

So, added the 16oz boiling water...
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(yes, measured and brought to a rolling boil)

...Stirred it with a long spoon, making sure to reach down in the bag corners, sealed the zip top, and waited for double the 10 minute suggested time. (it aint my first freeze-dried rodeo... :D )

When time was up, gave it another stir for good measure, then dumped it on a plate.
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Ok, a little residual liquid...not a deal breaker. Still looks rather good, so I gave it a try....

:?

Flavorwise, it was good. Strong flavor of beef broth, the onions and paprika added a hint of spice, the beef was really good. But the potatoes..

...those potatoes...

... :( ...

Sorry, but I've ate halfway cooked pasta that was more tender and less toothsome than those potato strips. Plus, there was still a feel of starch coating my tongue after the first bite. That coupled with how they tried to stick to everything....It was not a pleasing feeling.

So, I said to myself "Self, it also gave the option of frying. Lets see if that helps." Into the frying pan it went. And, to keep things in perspective, I used a non-stick pan of a size you would commonly see a camper or hiker carrying.
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I cooked it until all the liquid was gone and I could hear sizzling. Then, back onto the wiped down plate.
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So, how much did this help? None.

So, I went back to the old standby, doused it in tabasco, and started eating fast so I wouldn't have to chew as much. Managed to eat about 3/4ths of it before throwing in the towel. And, at the end it was almost just moving the potatoes around to get to the small meat cubes.

I think what depressed me about it was the fact that the potatoes seemed so underprepared. I know that it's easy to make good dehdryated/F-D shredded potatos. I carry then camping all the time, buying the big bulk boxes at the local warehouse store. So, I know it's not the potatos fault, instead its the fault of the company.

Luckily, this is not the end of my search. I have also procured both freeze dried diced beef, and some dehdryated cubed potatoes. Lets see if I can come up with something a little better on my own.. ;)

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rattattoo
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Re: Alpine Aire Beef and Potatoes

Post by rattattoo » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:16 pm

Thanks for "taking one for the team", buddy!

One of the real values about reading these reviews, both the MREs and the civilian-ratz, is that it keeps us from chasing good money after bad. A bad meal is a bad meal.
Your noble sacrifice keeps some of the rest of us from wasting money on one of these, and inadvertently supporting a producer whose food is not worthwhile. Conversely I've heard about things on here that I would not have otherwise tried.

... I'm still looking for that Scandinavian smoked salmon paste that somebody mentioned.

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Tedster
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Re: Alpine Aire Beef and Potatoes

Post by Tedster » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:02 pm

Thanks for the review. AlpineAire used to have some excellent menus and products. All of the manufacturers offer reasonable fare but it is damnably expensive for the caloric food value. This menu while I haven't tried, could be made palatable but would require extensive cooking. What's the point?

This batch was probably made on a Friday and they wanted to go home early. All freeze-dried foods seem to be short on fats or oils, so the addition of butter, spices, Worcester, hot sauce is absolutely necessary. Extended soak times, and additional cooking will usually help. They tend to increase the oz of water in the directions more than is necessary as this directly translates to increased serving size. Most menus are improved by backing off a couple few ozs. "Serves 2" is optomistic at best.

For all that, Potatoes themselves are cheap and can be made a number of ways. Canned goods have a lot more going for them when everything is taken into account as well. Insufficiently cooked freeze-dried taters are a great way to experience major league indigestion. Bad for morale on a long hike that's for sure.

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Norton
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Re: Alpine Aire Beef and Potatoes

Post by Norton » Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:19 am

Great review and thank you for the post. I also like Hash type meals for camping. I am going on mountain hike and camp this October. This meal was on my list and now it is not no longer. The reason is you did all the right things and the potatoes still stayed hard.

If you are heating a fairly expensive civilian meal like this after a long day, you would expect the potatoes to get soft if you doubled the soak time. Then you cooked them on a pan and they still stayed somewhat hard. As you said Deal breaker

Mountain House has a Breakfast mix that has eggs meat and potatoes. That was a very good breakfast for me last year. those potatoes got soft.

MRE Hash browns were great when combined with Retort pouch Hormel Corned Beef. But the pouch type serving are hard to find and the portions are small. Mixed together good meal MRE &/Hormel

By the way if you go to the Local Asian Grocery store, they sell High quality Australian and New Zealand single serving cans of
Palm and Ox brand Corned beef. It is very good with less fat and more meat. You mix that with MRE hash Browns and you have a great meal,Breakfast or Dinner. I cooked the conrened beef in the can boil in the can style. No mess

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