Thursday, September 6, 2012

Backpacker's Coleslaw


So months ago, someone submitted this recipe to our Facebook group. 

Recently I acquired a five-pound bag of shredded cabbage and decided to try it. It was really tasty, even Mike liked it.  In the dehydrated state, the cabbage tasted almost like a crunchy candy. It rehydrated perfectly!  

Many of you will probably think this simple recipe is no big deal, but when you were raised with the concept of shredded cabbage with a dollop of mayo as coleslaw, it’s a pretty phenomenal thing.  Hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  
Basic Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cabbage, washed & finely shredded
  • 1 stalk celery, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 green pepper, shredded
  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste)  

Soak 1 Hour 

  • Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl, then soak the cabbage in the salt water for an hour.

Julienne Peppers

  • The recipe called for bell peppers, but I didn’t have any fresh ones. I substituted Anaheim peppers. 
  • These were julienned to match the texture of the slaw.
Shredded Carrots 

  • Normally, I shred my carrots cross-wise, but I wanted them to match the slaw, too. These were shredded lengthwise.
  • I didn’t have any celery, so I simply left it out.
Linda’s Note:  Don’t be afraid to modify your recipes. If you don’t have one or two ingredients, substitute something. If your family doesn’t care for a particular ingredient, sometimes you can leave it out and no one will know the difference.

Add Carrots and Peppers 

  • Add the next 3 ingredients (without the celery in this case) and let them soak another 20 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly. 
Vinegar, Spices, Sugar

  • Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, and sugar in pan and bring it to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  • The sugar will make it a bit sticky in the drying process, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I checked on my slaw several hours later and made a point of turning it over. That will keep it from sticking too badly to the racks.
Drain Well

  • Once your slaw has finished its hour in the salt water, rinse it and drain it well.
  • Use your salad spinner to get the excess moisture out. 

Marinade 24 Hours

  • Pour the dressing over the rinsed vegetable mixture in the bowl and marinate, covered, for at least 24 hours before dehydrating.
  • Use your salad spinner to remove all excess moisture. Because of the dense nature of the shredded cabbage, I found that it needed several spinnings.  The slaw ends up on the side of the bowl.  I simply stirred it up with my fingers and spun it again.  I found I got a lot more liquid out of it.


Dehydrated & Ready to Store

  • It took two days to dry at 120 degrees. I cranked the temperature up from 115 because it was quite moist, even though I had run it through the salad spinner several times.
  • Several times during the drying process, I turned the slaw on the racks.  if you have really sweet foods, it can stick to the racks unless you turn it at least half way through the drying time.


  • To rehydrate it, I measured out 1/3 cup of slaw and added 1/3 cup of water.
  • I let it soak 30 minutes. 
  • It rehydrated perfectly, with just a tiny bit of water left in the bowl. Excellent!
Linda’s Note: I had an extra five-pound bag of cabbage and decided to turn it into coleslaw as well.  Both batches (the smaller first batch plus the five-pound bag of slaw) took a quart of vinegar with more sugar, mustard, and celery seeds. I simply added that to the left-over dressing from the first smaller batch. I added more Anaheim peppers, but not carrots.  plus, I tossed in about a half a diced onion into the second batch.  I didn’t have enough dehydrator space, so it marinated for two days in the refrigerator.  I noticed the extra marinating time (and possibly the extra onion and peppers) gave it a bit of a bite. That was just fine for us. 

For backpacking, camping, or MRE’s
  • Divide the dried slaw into plastic bags (1/3 cup of dried salad is adequate as a side dish for one person).



  1. this recipe sounds similar to the recipe my mom used for freezer slaw. Mix and put in bags and freeze. Thaw to eat.

    1. Now that's interesting. I never would have thought of freezing coleslaw, but then, probably wouldn't' have thought of dehydrating it, either!

  2. Thanks Linda, this sounds great and a lot better than making coleslaw with individual ingredients after they have been dehydrated. I definitely want to try this.

  3. Do you need to refrigerate during the 24 hour marinade. I'd have to completely rearrange the fridge as I just made my bimonthly shopping trip, and I really don't feel like doing that. :)

    1. sorry for the delay. Been out sick for nearly a week. :(

      I refriegerated mine. Where is your cabbage now? If it's in the fridge, it shouldn't take much more room than what you're already using. If, like me you live in a northern clime, maybe you can put it in the garage, cool basement, or somewhere. Just as long as critters can't get to it. Another alternative might be to put it in an ice chest overnight.

      I don't know for sure. I just know that soaking anything in a liquid could very well be like a perfect petrie dish for growing bacteria. However.... being that there is vinegar in it, maybe it won't be a problem.

  4. I just FINALLY got around to making this and I have a huge problem.

    I really don't think it's going to make it through the 24 hour marinade. It's SO good!!!!

    1. [chuckle] Don'cha love it! I had that same problem! What's even worse, is trying to make sure I have enough on hand to give a sample taste to my dehydrating classes!