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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal > Test Report by Marina Batzke

SIMPLY NATIVE WILD RICE HOT CEREAL
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
LONG-TERM REPORT
January 20, 2017

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 56
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in spring 2013. My backpacking trips are mostly weekend excursions in Southern California: desert areas in the winter months and mountainous areas in the summer months. I try to backpack one or two weekends a month. I always hike with a group and I like the gear talk when in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Simply Native Foods LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.simplynativefoods.com
MSRP: US$11.95
Listed Weight: 6.35 oz (180 g)
Measured Gross Weight of packaged item: 6.7 oz (190 g)
Other details:
available as "Sunflower Seed - Cranberry - Blueberry" and as "Pumpkin Seed - Cranberry - Blueberry"

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereals are packaged in a plastic pouch with a zip lock top. Each pouch is 5.5 in (14 cm) wide and 8.5 in (21.6 cm) tall. The food-filled bottom is about 3 in (7.6 cm) thick.
IMAGE 1
The three pouches that I received

The green-themed pouch contains the wild rice along with the sunflower seed - cranberry - blueberry mix and the orange-themed pouch holds the wild rice with the pumpkin seed - cranberry - blueberry mix. The front of the pouch explains that this is quick cooking hot cereal, ready in 10 minutes. It is certified gluten free and NON-GMO (no genetically modified organisms). The net weight of 6.35 oz (180 g) is for three hearty servings. There is a small see-through window in the front that gives me a first look at the ingredients.

The back side of each pouch provides a short introduction of this cereal and the multi-generation Midwestern family that is making these kinds of tradition-based foods. There are the cooking instructions, the nutrition facts and the ingredients listed.

The list of ingredients sounds enticing:
IMAGE 2
Sunflower seed - Cranberry - Blueberry - Wild Rice

For the sunflower seed cereal, it is pre-cooked wild rice, roasted sunflower kernels, dried cranberries and dried blueberries. This kind has 0.28 oz (8 g) of protein and 0.14 oz (4 g) of fiber.
IMAGE 3
Pumpkin seed - Cranberry - Blueberry - Wild Rice

For the pumpkin seed cereal, it is pre-cooked wild rice, roasted pumpkin kernels, dried cranberries and dried blueberries. This kind has 0.32 oz (9 g) of protein and 0.14 oz (4 g) of fiber.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

The preferred method to cook this hot cereal is on the stovetop. I shall add half a cup of cereal and the same amount of water to a pan. Then I shall stir and cook it on medium for 8 - 10 minutes.

Alternatively, when using a microwave, I shall add half a cup of cereal and half a cup of water to a microwave-safe bowl. After stirring it, I shall cook it on 50% power for 8 - 10 minutes. Afterwards I shall let it sit for 1 - 2 minutes and then determine if it is sufficiently cooked or may need a touch more.

TESTING STRATEGY

I received two pouches of Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal "Sunflower Seed - Cranberry - Blueberry" and one pouch "Pumpkin Seed - Cranberry - Blueberry".

As I only own a Jetboil that heats water at rapid pace, yet cannot be set to high or low, I am curious how well the hot cereal can get prepared with the Jetboil while backpacking. I guess it is best to do a trial run at home before venturing into the wilderness. I plan to separate the contents of one pouch into three zip lock bags and start testing.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Kearsarge Pass

Kearsarge Pass + Robinson Lake, California, USA
2 day/ 2 night car camp 12.6 mi (20 km)
Elevation: 9200 - 11800 ft (2800 - 3600 m)
Temperatures: 70 - 55 F (21 - 13 C)

Cedar Glen Camp/ Icehouse Canyon, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack 4.5 mi (7.3 km)
Elevation: 4940 - 7560 ft (1500 - 2300 m)
Temperatures: 70 - 55 F (21 - 13 C)

Henninger Flats, Angeles National Forest, Southern California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack 6 mi (10 km)
Elevation: 1300 - 2600 ft (400 - 800 m)
Temperatures: 74 - 50 F (23 - 10 C)

Valley Forge Campground, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack 4.6 mi (7.4 km)
Camp elevation: 3500 ft (1067 m)
Temperatures: 68 - 54 F (20 - 12 C)

Henninger Flats, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack 6 mi (10 km)
Elevation: 1300 -2600 ft (400 - 800 m)
Temperatures: 60 - 48 F (16 - 9 C)
IMAGE 4
Bighorn sheep near Icehouse Canyon

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Before I took the Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal on a field trip, I tried it out at home. First I separated one package into three identical zip lock bags of 2.1 oz (60 g). I then filled one zip lock bag contents into the plastic drinking cup of my Jetboil and it showed 4 fl oz (118 ml) of fill. I poured the rice cereal into the Jetboil cooking pot and filled the plastic drinking cup with 4 fl oz (118 ml) of water, then added the water to the Jetboil cooking pot. I started the Jetboil and within 45 seconds, the water/ cereal mixture came to a boil. I let it boil for about 15 seconds and then turned off the Jetboil, as I cannot have it simmer on a low setting (it is either on or off). I let the food sit for 10 minutes with the lid on the Jetboil cooking pot. Afterwards I stirred the contents and took a little bite but the rice seemed too hard still. I started the Jetboil again and the small water/ cereal contents very quickly came to a boil again. I let the mixture sit for additional 5 minutes, stirred the contents well and took another test bite. It seemed the food was better soaked through, so I started eating.

Every bite provided a lot of ingredients to chew on, which is kind of nice as I was literally eating and chewing (compared to a soggy hot oatmeal that I might otherwise eat for breakfast when backpacking). That one zip lock bag with "one third of the pouch" seemed the right amount of food for breakfast. I have to say though, the wild rice hot cereal was not really my flavor: either I eat sweet cereal for breakfast ... or I eat rice (without fruit in it) for lunch or dinner. This combination of sweet fruit, a crunchy, hard seed and the very firm rice just did not appeal to me. Maybe the rice could have heated and soaked much longer. I committed to trying the second portion on a stovetop - the manufacturer's preferred method of preparation to see if the resulting hot cereal then would be more to my liking. I did not want to go backpacking with the wild rice cereal just yet, as I was not sure I was preparing it properly.

Well, the result of test #2 cooking the Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal in a cooking pot on my kitchen stove still was not really my thing. I let the cereal cook for like 20 minutes and still, the firmness of the rice did not soften. And the combination of rice and sweet fruit seemed odd to my taste buds.

I then read a note by the manufacturer that because the rice is pre-cooked, it could get soaked overnight which allows the grains to soften into a consistency that is texture rich and ready to eat without cooking.
IMAGE 2
Cereal and Water before soaking 8+ hours

The overnight-soaking was my third test at home. I took my "one third of a pouch" portion and added an equal amount of water, then let this mixture soften in a zipper bag overnight. After about 16 hours of soaking this mixture, I first tried a spoonful cold: no thanks. I then warmed up this soaked mixture in my Jetboil. Ok, this was the best result of my trials so far. 8+ hours of soaking of the Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal seems very important to please my taste buds.
IMAGE 3
The soaked Cereal in my Jetboil

I actually googled the description of cereal because I had such a hard time liking the wild rice cereal: cereal is a grain used for food, such as wheat, oats, or corn, and it is also a breakfast food made from roasted grain, typically eaten with milk. Overall, I might say that I like the Pumpkin Seed - Cranberry - Blueberry wild rice cereal a touch more than the Sunflower Seed - Cranberry - Blueberry cereal.

I used the other two pouches (divided into six portions) in my field testing. In general, this wild rice hot cereal with its hard seeds and very firm wild rice will always involve a lot of chewing. I almost like it more for dinner than for breakfast.

During my backpack trips, I am storing all food and scented items in a bear canister that I stash in the vicinity of camp. This means I also have to store the wild rice cereal portion which is soaking 8+ hours in its zip lock plastic bag either for next morning's breakfast or all day for dinner, if I rather want to eat the rice dish for dinner. That means double bagging the plastic bag and making sure it stays upright inside the canister.

SUMMARY

I really wanted to like the Simply Native Wild Rice Hot Cereal because it seems to be a healthy, natural food and because I love a hot cereal in the morning. Yet my taste buds never really started enjoying the flavor of the wild rice, and of the wild rice in combination with the sweet and tangy fruits. I do want to mention that I don't like brown rice or pasta al dente (cooked so as to be still firm when bitten).

LIKES:
One serving (one third of pouch contents) is truly filling - the manufacturer's statement is correct.
Plenty to chew

NOT MY THING:
Requires 8+ hours of soaking to get near a consistency that I enjoy
Odd combination of firm wild rice and sweet, tangy fruits
It is not quick cooking in my opinion.

Thank you to Simply Native and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this interesting cereal.

Marina Batzke

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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