Tasty, real meat and vegetable pieces, all natural with a high protein and calorie content? Low salt and sugar? You sure this is exped food?
When a box of meals claiming this landed on McLovinMountains doorstep we were very intrigued, a little sceptical and hungry. As usual.
Firepot is the brand name from Outdoorfood.com – a start-up company, John Fisher founded by John Fisher in a barn, based in Dorset creating healthy (chemical-free) real food for expeditions and the outdoors. The idea he says was borne of frustration at the lack of good tasting expedition food on his own adventures.
Necessity , they say , is the mother of invention. (Although I always wondered who “they” are…. )
In Outdoorfood.com’s own words “As far as possible all our ingredients are sourced locally and we cook everything by hand in our kitchen and then gently dry and pack these meals.”
Outdoorfood have opted for a dry meal (moisture removed) so its gets down to 135g, the other option used by some companies is a “wet” meal that you just need to heat and while these can be attractive options they are very heavy if trying to be “light and fast”. Getting between 540 to 700 very tasty, low salt, low refined sugar calories from 120g means Firepot are very clever indeed.
My initial thought are it looks like a fresh , premium product – attractive bright colours and cool map style designs on the front of the packets together with easy to spot calorie values (essential for planning trips) then very easy to follow cooking instructions on the rear next to useful, clear nutritional information.
Crucially all I see is natural ingredients, a great nutrient profile and no preservatives or chemicals! Already I’m buying in!
Interestingly Outdoorfood have included “at home / easy to make” as one target market for these meals, alongside the usual camping, hiking, expeditions etc so when stuck at home recently for a day I decided to try one using the pan rather than the in-pouch, method of cooking to test this theory.
Deciding on Chilli con Carne (625 calories, 33.3g protein, 85.5g carbohydrates (only 8.1g of sugars) and 19.3g of energy rich fat) I followed the instructions to the letter to see if it worked as suggested. Opening the bag I was pretty surprised to see sizeable pieces of kidney beans and what looked like a good amount of beef mince (sourced locally from a Butcher in Bridgeport no less!). Tipped it in the pan and then filled the bag to the indicated line with cold water, added that to the pan , brought to the boil then put a lid on and left for 10 minutes.
Very impressed! Like ..very very Impressed!
Its a great size of serving for 120g dry (so much I only just finished it), full of flavour , no chemical taint, good amount of mince, plenty of seasoning. It did need in my opinion a bit more moisture and perhaps a couple mins longer than suggested – some “bite” left in the rice – but on the whole it was extremely tasty and when presented in a bowl you would struggle to spot it came from a dried pouch! It packs a serious fuel and flavour (think morale!) punch for the hill, hut or tent . Very moresish – much more so that other dry meals I’ve tried.
I put a lot of this down to the way they dry the food, versus other companies. Outdoorfood opt for the rarer and more costly I assume, (but more effective) dehydration method rather than typical and cheap Freeze Drying which Outdoor suggest is a more gentle process and allows them to create food that retains its texture and flavour, usually lost in the other method.
The other major difference between what Firepot do and others is that they cook all their food by hand, and then dehydrate each meal without adding anything else.
I decided sharing is caring so also had MrsMcLovinMountains try one and she opted for the very cosmopolitan sounding Porcini mushroom risotto . Put simply she loved it as well. Great texture, great porcini flavours but maybe could benefit from some more parmesan creaminess (ok Michel Roux!) . Mixing Porcini and chestnut mushrooms for flavour and with well cooked risotto rice? I may even convince her to go camping more open now!
After trying the other 2 flavours I had on test – Dal and Rice with Spinach and Orzo pasta bolognese using the stove and pouch method I’m sold! Flavours are great, pouches are robust (if anything a little to robust making it a bit tough to tear off the top when fingers are a bit numb or in gloves) and they seal very well to allow for “cooking” once you add water (I suggest always to get them out the wind when you are waiting for them to hydrate to reduce heat loss).
Firepot are available in the standard 120G size offering up i 700 calories but they can also supply larger “expedition” potions offering 1000+ calories (200g weight) and have already been getting a full test in places as far flung as Greenlands Artic Loop, the Sahara and on ultramarathon’s in the Yukon!
Right now there are 4 flavours but Outdoor.com have promised more to come soon!
In summary then.
Light to carry, healthy and very tasty ingredients, great profile of calories and macro’s, reasonable price (£6.50 for 135g) and easy to make mean these are now my go-to pack food!
Oh and if Firepot are listening.. I’m available for flavour testing anytime ! And ps. readers I rarely share so get your own!
Now.. where did I put my long handled spoon?