Peek The Pouch Series: A Deep Dive into our OG Unstuffed Pepper

Freeze Dried Unstuffed Pepper with Ground Bison

“Right off the bat this meal smelled amazing and tasted even better!”

- Verified Customer Review

Quinoa, Bison, Tomato Sauce, Bell Pepper, Green Onion, Spices

You know what that is? The ENTIRE list of ingredients in our O.G. 5-star highlight of the month, our Unstuffed Pepper!

When we tell you that our freeze-dried meals are made of real, whole ingredients, we aren’t blowing smoke up your trekking shorts. They are super satisfying, enormously nutritious, monumental meals and snacks for balls-to-the-wall days of activity. And bonus, they taste GREAT! 

We want you to know the story behind each of our meals, and all the loving little details that go into making our meals taste so darn good. We're launching our monthly peek-the-pouch series with the very first dried meal we ever made, and we'll go into all the nitty gritty details!

So a little history…! 

Our OG Unstuffed Pepper favorite has an origin story steeped in nostalgia and San Marzano tomatoes. Bushka’s founder, Deana, recreated her mother’s classic when she made her first ever dehydrated meal, complete with tomato sauce jerky (yeah, that’s a thing!), when she was headed out backpacking in Iceland circa 2016.

Bushka's Kitchen Freeze Dried Backpacking Meal
(Tomato Jerky pictured above!)

The very first version of this meal (before Bushka's Kitchen was ever even dreamt of!) was dehydrated, not freeze dried like our current lineup (read our blog on how the two processes differ!). At the time, this meal was a labor of love and took days to dehydrate due to making tomato sauce jerky! Even cooking the meal took a crazy 15 minutes of slow simmering on the trail. Hangry hiker much?! But after eating this meal on several trips, I knew that this meal was the start of some different type of adventure. 

The journey to perfecting this meal began the process of launching Bushka's Kitchen, and you can find our core values reflected in this dish: 

    • Simple, wholesome ingredients to fuel your body
    • Clean and transparent nutrition labels 
    • Identifiable ingredients in every pouch
  • FLAVOR: 
    • Delicious, balanced flavor to satisfy your mouth
    • Aromatic smell to stimulate your senses
    • Conservatively seasoned to please most palates 
  • SPEED: 
    • Three minutes (or less!) rehydration time to get you full fast
Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals by Bushka's KitchenThis Italian classic begins with slow-simmered espresso-salted bison, red bell peppers, green onions, San Marzano tomatoes, and hearty quinoa cooked al dente. It’s rounded out with the holy Italian mix of basil, parsley, oregano, and garlic.
Ground Bison: We start with freshly ground bison - since bison is a sweeter tasting meat than beef, we balance that flavor with a bold tasting espresso salt and just a hint of spice with chili flakes. Because bison is such a lean meat, we slow cook this to make sure the meat stays tender when rehydrated! Additionally, because we freeze-dry our meat instead of dehydrating it, the meat reconstitutes tender without the hard gravely texture typical to other dried ground meats. 
Next comes our organic Quinoa; we typically use a white quinoa rather than a red, black, or tricolor as our goal is a uniform fluffy texture with just a hint of a nutty undertone that will absorb the water and tomato sauce and rehydrate quickly. The quinoa is most affected by the temperature of the water, so if you want a softer quinoa use hotter water when making your meal! Also, we wanted to use a grain that did not contain gluten!

Tomato Sauce with Basil Bushka's Kitchen
The Tomato Sauce is a throwback to my childhood as almost every Sunday we had a tomato sauce dish for dinner. My mother would simmer the sauce on low heat for hours all day and the smell would waft around the house. San Marzano is my tomato of choice because of the robust, rich tomato flavor and the low acidity profile - the last thing you want on trail is heart burn! And of course, no tomato sauce is complete without a generous helping of fresh basil!
Finally, we prepare our fresh vegetables - we chop Green Onion and dice Red Bell Pepper and garnish the top of each pouch with these vegetables. 
If you like a more seasoned meal pouch, I recommend either adding additional Chili Flakes or shelf stable Parmesan Cheese. The Chili Flakes brings out a little more heat (which I love!) and the Parmesan Cheese adds a deeper umami flavor. We leave off the Parmesan Cheese as we strive to offer some meals that are dairy free. 

Hot Soaked or Cold Soaked?

While this meal was designed to be hot soaked, I have enjoyed our Unstuffed Pepper cold soaked many times on backpacking trips! As mentioned above, the texture of the quinoa is most affected by the temperature of the water; if you're going to cold-soak, your quinoa will be on the crunchier than fluffier side! I also prefer to add a little extra salt and chili flakes when I cold soak this dish. 
Our Unstuffed Pepper also makes a fricking good burrito! For the trips where you can pack a little extra weight, include a tortilla for additional calories and make yourself a wrap! 
Unstuffed Pepper as a Cold Soaked Burrito
I hope however you're eating our Unstuffed Pepper, you enjoy it as much as we do! Leave a review and share your thoughts and tell us how you eat this dish on trail.


Please share it with us by commenting at Instagram, tag us, email us, send a fax (LOL - just kidding we don’t have a fax machine!), leave a message, any of the ways, just reach out! We love to hear from you.

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