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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Cache Lake Foods Cold Prep Foods > Test Report by Kara Stanley

CACHE LAKE COLD PREP FILLINGS
TEST SERIES BY KARA STANLEY
LONG-TERM REPORT
October 24, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 26
LOCATION: Tampa, Florida
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

I backpacked for the first time in 2006 and am now hooked. I have hiked most of my life in the South on flat land or small hills. When living in the DC area I got into hiking, doing both day hikes and multi-day backpacking trips, but warm weather hikes only! I am working on converting to a lighter hiking style as money permits. My base-pack weight is around 23 lb (10 kg) since I am still carrying a heavy backpack. Now living in Florida most of my hikes are day or short overnight trips on flat/swampy land.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Cache Lake
Year of Manufacture: n/a
Manufacturer's Website: Cache Lake

IMAGE 2
Beans with Nacho Cheese


MSRP: US$2.99
Listed Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Measured Weight: 4.2oz (119 g)

IMAGE 3
Beans with Taco Flavored Bits


MSRP: US$2.89
Listed Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Measured Weight: 4.6 oz (130 g)

IMAGE 5
Cheese with Beans


MSRP: US$4.05
Listed Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
Measured Weight: 3.1 oz (89 g)

IMAGE 4
Beans with Salsa Spices


MSRP: US$2.85
Listed Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Measured Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 1
I am impressed by the fact that Cache Lake used recycled boxes to ship their products. I received a box of 12 filling packages, 3 of each Beans and Cheese, Nacho Cheese and Beans, Beans with Salsa Spices, and Beans with Taco Bits. The package smelled good, like Mexican spices. Each filling package is small and compact, no need to repackage to reduce size. Each package is 2 servings, but it looks small and like it will only feed one hungry hiker. These are "fillings" and stuff 4 8" tortillas. I was disappointed to see that the products that contain cheese have artificial food dye in them. I was happy to see that the Beans with Salsa Spices is from all natural ingredients and looks suitable for Vegans. All filling are vegetarian.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions are easy enough to follow and clearly printed on each package.
They are:
1) Put dry mix in bowl and mix well.
2) Add cup cold water. Stir.
3) Let set 2-3 minutes.
(To serve hot, use hot water)
Fills 4-8" Tortillas

TESTING STRATEGY

Is there a difference between fillings rehydrated with hot versus cold water?
Which works better and is there a taste difference?
How many tortillas does it really fill and how it tastes on its own?
How are the taste and the seasoning levels, is it well flavored for all tastes?
Does it last over night if kept cool incase the package proves too much for one person?

SUMMARY

The packaging is nice and small with easy to read instructions.

Likes:

Small Packaging
Easy instructions
The Beans with Salsa is from all natural ingredients and can be eaten by Vegans

Dislikes:

Yellow food dye in the fillings with cheese
The fillings require tortillas, which can go moldy on the trail and are heavy to carry


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I took several of these packages with me on a three week trip through Panama and Costa Rica since I ended up in remote locations with limited access to food. The temperatures were warm (80-90 F; 44-50 C), with high humidity, and the location was near sea level since it was a beach location. Testing was in Tampa, Florida under similar conditions.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

In Panama, I prepared the Beans with Cheese according to directions. I added the of a cup (6 oz, 177 ml) of cold water as called for, stirred the mix up and left it to sit for 5 minutes per instructions. I then returned to stir and taste the mixture. It was still too dry and pasty for my taste so I added additional water, about of a cup (2 oz, 59 ml) and let it sit for another 5 minutes. The texture had improved, though I still had lots of crunch, dried bean bits that never did fully rehydrate no matter how long it sat. I ate it with a mix of pretzel crackers and bagel chips. It was okay, but nothing that I'd chose to eat again. It was pretty bland and the cheese gave it a strange overall texture, kind of gritty, but a very fine grit, like the cheese had not rehydrated. I did not enjoy eating this cold, I love beans, but decided that I don't like them cold!

Is there a difference between fillings rehydrated with hot versus cold water?
I decided to do a home taste test with a few of the remaining bags of a the bean mix. I split the bags in half (eyeballed it) and added hot water to one bowl and cold to the other. Overall I found that the mixes that had hot water added rehydrated better and faster when compared to the ones mixed up with cold water. I also liked the taste of the bean fillings made with hot water over cold.
IMAGE 2
Beans with Nacho Cheese - L Hot water prep R Cold Prep


My thoughts on the flavors:
Beans and Cheese
Not a fan. The mix did not rehydrate well or evenly. I found the mix to be very bland and the texture just funny with a mini-grit feel.

Nacho Cheese and Beans
Shockingly bland for "nacho cheese" flavor and the texture is a mini-grit feel. This seems to be normal for all the fillings with cheese.

Beans with Salsa Spices
Not bad, I enjoyed the Salsa veggies, they added a nice flavor and texture to the filling.

Beans with Taco Bits
Nice overall taste, it had a nice mild kick, and the "taco bits" added a nice texture contrast. Probably my favorite flavor of them all.
IMAGE 1
Taco Bit Filling Before Hydration


I did not have any digestive issues related to eating the beans, but then I also eat lot of beans in general.

Definitely enough to feed two people as long as you have tortillas, chips, or other starch to eat it with. Plus I'm not sure that one person would want to down about 2 cups (473 ml) of bean based filling in one sitting, especially if you do not eat beans on a regular basis.

How are the taste and the seasoning levels, is it well flavored for all tastes?
Overall, I found that the fillings that have cheese are bland and lacking in salt. The Salsa and Taco Bit fillings have a nice mild blend of seasonings that make them rather tasty when compared to the cheesy fillings. I would not rate any of them higher then a mild and would carry along some salt and hot pepper to doctor them up to my spice level. Adding a bit of cheese to top off the hot bean filling in a tortilla did improve the overall taste of the Taco Bit and Salsa fillings and made them acceptable overall, but this did not improve the taste of the fillings with cheese.

I did like eating these with pita or bagel chips instead of tortilla since I found the chips easier to carry and they also helped to add additional salt to the filling.


IMAGE 3
Eating the Salsa filling with pita chips

The packaging is extremely durable as I did not have any tears, ruptures or other damage to the bags during a three-week trip. That would be key since having a bag of powder filling break on a trip would be a headache.

SUMMARY

Overall I'm not sure that I'd buy these again. Partly because I usually hike solo and would not want to bother with leftovers. Also I would not pay the extra for the cheese with beans as it had the worse texture and flavor.

Likes:
That is they can be made with cold water
Filling overall
Taco Bit filling was rather tasty
Nice Packaging, small yet durable

Dislikes:
Taste and texture of the fillings with cheese
Do not fully rehydrate leaving some crunchy bean bits
Overall pretty bland tasting; especially the cheesy ones
Doesn't look very appealing once mixed

CONTINUED USE

Since I do have a few packs left over I will probably take the non-cheese fillings out on future trips, but don't plan on buying any more since I was not impressed with the overall taste and would prefer my other hiking food staples.

Thank you Cache Lake and BTG for allowing me to test this product line.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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