At this summer’s Outdoor Trade Show (OTS 2023) I grabbed the chance to get back up to speed with FIREPOT dehydrated expedition ration meals, writes Bob Morrison.
My first encounter with FIREPOT from Dorset was pre-pandemic, at OTS 2019, when the range of dishes was still comparatively limited but over the past four years the brand has grown quite appreciably; which is probably unsurprising as their meal pouches are very tasty indeed.
As previously explained ~ see FIREPOT ~ Dehydrated Expedition Rations ~ this company’s meals are air-dried rather than being lyophilised or freeze-dried. In effect, modern techniques are used to dry cooked meals very much like man has used Mother Nature to extend the life of grapes (i.e. raisins / currants) or cured meat (e.g. pork ham or beef jerky / biltong) long after the foodstuff would normally have gone off. FIREPOT also pre-cook the meals before dying, rather than (as some, but by no means all, manufacturers do) combining individual freeze-dried components in the pack and relying on the hot water used for rehydration to cook the dish during the standing time.
At time of writing there are 18 full meals in the FIREPOT range, with several being labelled as Gluten-Free and/or Vegan, and smaller taster Mini Taster Packs containing four different half-sized meals are also available in each of the three categories. Each full meal produces between 435kcal and 635kcal of energy when rehydrated and the mini packs, some of which are ideal for a light hot breakfast, produce roughly half the calories.
I tried out:
- Mini Posh Baked Beans (Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free and Vegan) which is described as being a breakfast of soya and potato baked with three types of beans in a tomato sauce.
- Mini Tuscan Stew (Lactose-Free and Vegan) which had white beans, cavolo nero Tuscan kale and sourdough bread.
- Barbecue Pulled Pork (Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free) described as an oak-smoked British pork slow-cooked overnight on the bone served with barbecue sauce, rice and onion relish.
The 68g or 60g mini meals required 150ml or 200ml of boiling water and the 125g full meal required 300ml of boiling water to reconstitute. I used a measuring jug to ensure exactly the right amount of water, but fill levels are printed on the outside of each pack. It should be noted that standing time, at 15 minutes, is longer than required by freeze-dried equivalents and at higher altitudes rehydration may take longer. This will probably not be an issue for expeditionists, but some military users might not have the additional spare few minutes required to properly reconstitute or the ability to bring water fully to the boil.
As you have no doubt spotted, the two mini packs I brought back from OTS were vegan but once again I ‘took one for the team. I am no great fan of greens, so the Tuscan Stew with kale was not to my personal taste, but I managed to fight my way through it. The Posh Baked Beans was okay, as I like beans (45%) and potatoes in tomato sauce, though I don’t like the texture of soya mince (15%). However if I were a vegan or veggie my opinion would no doubt be different. The Barbecued Pulled Pork, on the other hand, was right up my street and I could cheerfully eat this one every other day.
As of yet I have not seen FIREPOT pouches in any military ration packs, though rumour has it that some specialist soldiers have at least tested them, but I am aware from public records of at least one UK Fire Brigade having purchased quite a large quantity. Latest full meal packs also carry the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme ‘Recommended Kit’ logo. Finally, with a minimum shelf life of five years I reckon these tasty meals are also handy and low bulk packs to have in one’s survival pantry.
[images © Bob Morrison]
Updated, 09 September 2023: Regular reader JS has just sent us his first impressions on the FIREPOT Mini Taster Pack:-
Well I’ve just had the spicy pork noodles, yes I know it’s only 10am…
I would probably stir them more and let them stand a bit longer, the foil lined pouch I reckon would allow for that, keeping the heat in.
Very tasty indeed, most enjoyable, the ‘spicy’ builds up over time.
The shelf life is a couple of years so I can see one of the remaining three stay in my daysack and the remaining ones live in my office.
Yes, I will probably buy another Taster Pack as that’s a great size.