Keen outdoors folk like trampers, hunters and fisherman make up a big part of the people enjoying thousands of desserts and smoothies that Back Country Cuisine produces every year. Their brief for eating in the back country is simple. Make it light, full of energy, convenient, and most of all, delicious. We all need to have something to look forward to at the end of a long day hauling a pack around, and time wasted cooking complex meals and cleaning up isn’t one of them. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack - your favourite Back Country meal will be ready and waiting for you in a matter of minutes, so you can get on with the task at hand which is pure enjoyment of the outdoors.
Back Country Foods General Manager, John McGrath says that Back Country Cuisine meals provide outdoor adventurers with not only less pack weight and nutrition, but they provide a connection to home while they’re out in some of the toughest environments in the world. From crossing deserts, oceans or climbing mountains in pursuit of game or the summit.
“We produce thousands of Back Country freeze dried meals annually, with Roast Lamb & Vegetables being our best seller every year. It’s a really classic Kiwi dish that’s as popular with both hikers and hunters alike here, Australia and South Africa. It’s also amazing how many international adventurers also try our meals while visiting New Zealand or adventuring with Kiwi’s abroad. It never ceases to amaze me where our meals get taken – climbing in Nepal, Oman Desert marathons, Kayaking the Tasman to sailing around the world and hunting in Kazakhstan. We then get requests from all around the world for our meals.”
The home of Back Country Cuisine is at the bottom of New Zealand and is one of the southernmost cities in the world, Invercargill. With great access to some of the best wilderness areas in NZ like the Catlins, Stewart Island/Rakiura and Fiordland, it is the perfect spiritual home for us to create these products. The region is something of a gourmet food box with many of the raw ingredients, including meat and vegetables, being produced by local world class food producers. Back Country Cuisine has always been proud to source locally as much as possible to go into our nutritionally high meals of vegetables and meats with delicious sauce mixes that retain their natural flavours.
The result? Tasty freeze dried meals that can be prepared in its own pouch in ten minutes, with just a bit of boiling water.
During the freeze drying process, crystals of frozen ice in the fresh food are sublimed (evaporated) to water vapour in a vacuum chamber resulting in a completely dry product that does not shrink during the drying process.
When prepared for eating, the water is quickly absorbed by the pores left by the ice crystals to give a juicy, tender food product. After packing, the food is heat-sealed in recyclable foil pouches from which all the air has been removed and replaced with nitrogen gas, keeping the food preserved and flavoursome for at least four years. This means you can have the convenience of high nutrition meals on hand to eat at any time you want.
Moisture removal is age old technique of preserving our food. Salting, smoking, and drying methods have all been around since the dawn of time and in effect they do a similar job to freeze drying, albeit far less efficiently. Once you extract moisture, you also remove a potential breeding ground for bacterial nasties and make it much harder for food to spoil.
The additional benefit is that freeze drying removes the moisture from food making it much lighter and easier to carry and, when prepared for eating, the water is quickly absorbed by the pores left by the ice crystals to give a juicy, tender food product.
Back Country Cuisine meals are formulated to meet the high energy needs of outdoor activity and our products have a careful mix of the essential components needed for a balance of energy and nutrition to keep you moving and healthy in the hills.
Along with naturally occurring minerals and the addition of salt, our freeze dried meals provide vitamins and minerals necessary to fuel your back country adventures. Freeze drying retains the natural vitamins in the food because of the low temperatures used in processing as well as balanced carbohydrates and sugars for instant energy, protein to replenish exhausted muscles and oils and fats to keep you feeling full.
To make your Back Country Cuisine freeze dried meal simply add the required amount of hot or cold water stated on the back of each meal pouch, stir and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The result is a meal full of nutrition, ready to eat wherever your adventure may take you.
Check out the added lower tear tab on all pouches, once the meal has been reconstituted just tear the lower perforation and use the pouch as a bowl. A great idea and saves getting messy hands when using your spoon or spork, if you remembered to pack one that is.
Finally, rinse the pouch and seal it in a zip lock bag ready to come home for soft plastic recycling. And here’s a quick science lesson, foil doesn’t burn, so please don’t leave them in the hut or campsite fire for the next person to clean up.
It was a burning question posed by military and outdoor enthusiasts back in the 1950’s that ultimately led to the creation of Back Country Cuisine. How to carry everything in a pack needed for a full-on extended back country adventure, without compromising nutrition?
Back then light-weight outdoors gear didn’t exist; everything was heavy and made to last for generations. So, from the 1960’s onwards, there was a new focus on reducing the weight of outdoors gear, and it was Southland’s Alliance Freezing Company who pioneered the development of freeze-drying food in New Zealand to reduce its weight and extend its shelf life. Early adopters of this new freeze dried technology were legitimate outdoor legends like Sir Peter Blake during the Whitbred Round The World race as well as supplying the NZ Army, and not long after that in 1998 the Back Country Cuisine brand was born.
Over the last two decades the company has been fortunate enough to have been passed through the hands of a small group of diverse and passionate custodians who have all left their mark, making Back Country Cuisine what it is today. And today it’s in the safe hands of a well-established, Invercargill-based family business, The George Wilson Group.
Group director Murray Wilson says Back Country Foods presents an excellent new opportunity to complement their Southland operations by growing an already successful business.
“We are very excited about the potential of Back Country Foods, which is a category innovator that creates an exceptional product and a high-value brand that is extremely well positioned for growth and expansion into new markets. Our vision is very much focused on realising that potential, developing new products and exploring new opportunities for innovation whilst continuing to contribute to the Southland region’s economy and community.”
Together, Back Country Foods and the George Wilson Group are Invercargill institutions, taking a proudly New Zealand made product to the world.