Backpacker's Pantry Cheddar Cheese Spread
By Raymond Estrella
October 28, 2012
North Western Minnesota, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
225 lb (102.00 kg)
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.
Manufacturer: Backpacker's Pantry
Web site: www.backpackerspantry.com
Product: Cheddar Cheese Spread
Year manufactured: 2011
MSRP: US $6.00 for a four-pack
Weight listed (one package): 1.5 oz (43 g)
Actual gross weight each (incl. packaging): 1.6 oz (45 g)
The Backpacker's Pantry Cheddar Cheese Spread is just that. It is cheddar cheese that has been processed with butter and water to bring it to a consistency of cream cheese (the closest thing I can think of). The spread comes in four-packs, each pack is 5.5 x 2.3 in (14 x 6 cm) and is about 0.3 in (8 mm) thick. The picture here should be about actual size.
The only instructions on the package are to "knead package before opening". The cheese spread may be eaten as is on crackers, bread, or tortillas, or it may be added to other dishes. Here are the ingredients and nutritional information.
Ingredients: Cheddar Cheese Spread (Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Butter, Water, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Lactic Acid, Vitamin C, Mono- And Diglycerides (Vegetable), Apo Carotenal, Annatto, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Cum, Guar Gum, Vitamins A, B6, And B1).
Serving Size: 1 pouch
Weight: 1.5 oz (42 g)
Total Calories: 180
Total Fat: 17 g
Sodium: 300 mg
Carbohydrates: 1 g
Protein: 5 g
Fiber: 0 g
One thing I found interesting is that the heavy-duty plasticized foil packages are the same color brown as the MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) I have for emergency food. I wonder if the military uses this spread too?
So far this year I have used six packages of the cheese spread. Three were used during six days of winter backpacking, well sled-packing, in Voyageurs National Park. Low temps during the course of the trips ranged from -1 F to 30 F (-18 to -1 C).
Next was on a five-day trip deep in the Superior National Forest, right by the Canadian border. I volunteered to help the United States Forest Service (USFS) build a bridge over Bridal Falls on the Gunflint Trail. Two nights were spent on an island in the eastern end of Gunflint Lake that we used as a base camp; this is where I used the cheese spread. The temperatures on this trip were from 35 to 70 F (2 to 21 C).
The latest use (two days earlier as I write this) was at my friend's property north of Halstad, Minnesota. While I normally like to stay in the woods it was just too mucky (my shoes weighed a ton!) so I ended up by the Red River on some flattened prairie grass. I went chasing weather again because the forecast was rain, turning to snow and low temps. It did hit a low of 26 F (-3 C).
I found the Backpacker's Pantry Cheddar Cheese Spread on the company's web site in December of 2011. I ordered three packs (12 individual servings) as part of a large order I make each year. As noted above the first time I had it was on a big winter trip. I only brought three packages to add to Mexican-style freeze dried entrees by the same company. Because of the low temperatures I had to carry the cheese spread in my pants pocket as I figured while hiking it would be the warmest place. Once I made camp and put on my down I switched it to the inside pocket of that. This kept it soft enough to add to my meals. I add the cheese spread after the meal has rehydrated, just before eating.
It tastes great! I love cheese and this tastes just like the cheddar that is its main ingredient. I was worried that it would taste like American cheese or Velveeta, both of which I can't stand. Besides making the meals taste better my main interest in the cheese spread was the 180 calories that it adds. I burn a lot of calories for any hiking due to the big days I average, but winter hiking really burns them.
A bad fall the last day of that hike ended my backpacking for the rest of winter and spring. (Just about forever.) So I did not get the spread back out again until this summer.
I have only added them to hot meals. I am not the type to mess with crackers or tortillas so the "spread" aspect is wasted on me. But my latest trip I used some for an experiment. I have been eating a lot of the company's Cold Water Lunches (see review) and decided to try one made with hot water. But to make the lower calorie lunch into a "dinner" I added chopped up Sweet Baby Ray's beef jerky and the cheddar cheese spread. It worked quite well. I am going to try it with another of their lunches next. Here is a shot (the only picture I have of the spread in the field) right before I made dinner. I had to work in my vestibule as it was raining. It was cold too, so once I took the picture the cheese spread went back inside my down sweater.
One thing I can't find on either the plastic bag the spread comes in or the actual packages is an expiration date. I guess it must last a long time. (I hope so at least.)
I really like the Backpacker's Pantry Cheddar Cheese Spread and just ordered two more four-packs. After I had placed my order and paid for it I belatedly saw that they just came out with a Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Spread. Once I eat the rest of what I have and just ordered I will give that a try. If it is good watch for a review next year. ;-)
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