Topic: Army Rations
Tasty New Diet for Troops Based in Tropical Areas
The Age, Melbourne, Australia, 18 October 1962
Canberra.—The Australian army had discovered a way of feeding troops based in the tropics with good, edible and interesting meals and at the same time reducing the soldiers' load.
Cooked, minced, dried, compressed with 500 lb. pressure per square inch at freezing point and some months later, soaked in water—that is the pattern of food preparation for the tropical soldier of the future.
An army spokesman said today that work carried out at the army food research station in Tasmania had shown that meat processed in this way retained nutritional value—and still tasted like meat.
Many soldiers from the Second World War are still wary of any food marked "dehydrated," but the days of potatoes that taste like flour and peas resembling buckshot are gone for ever.
In most cases the difference between the taste of fresh food and that processed at the army research station are no more than the minor variations in different women's cooking.
The process for vegetables involves immersing them in hot water or steam to make organic life inactive, a dip in sulphite to aid rapid drying, and compression.
Before compression, the vegetables are held at a high temperature for a short period to obtain an even distribution of moisture.
Meat is cut into pieces about the size of a man's fist, placed on wire racks and cooked in steam ovens for 40 to 50 minutes, It is then cooled and minced.
The minced meat is placed in a dehydrator and the juice collected during cooking is reduced to a syrup. The syrup is then blended with the partly dried meat.
Drying continues at a slower rate until the moisture content is less than 5 per cent. This is followed by compression into small blocks.
Some months later, a small patrol operating many miles from its base soaks these blocks in hot water before cooking.
Under a tropical sun, the meal tastes like the food served by the catering corps back home in Australia, and the soldier is receiving the nourishment he needs.
A major advantage, according to the rank and file, is that the soldier's load has been lightened considerably and reduced in bulk.
The bulk reduction ratio between fresh and processed cabbage is 11 to 1.
A one-ounce block of cabbage occupies about 1 cubic inch of space, but when reconstituted it is five or six ounces of "fresh" cabbage—sufficient for one man.
The army spokesman said there were some losses of mineral and vitamin during processing, but generally they were not as great as the losses incurred during canning.
Meanwhile the army is continuing work on finding the means of reducing these losses or making them good by addition at a later stage.
Work is also being directed to widening the variety of foods that can be reduced to these lightweight packs—making it possible for the digger to enjoy a diet similar to that he has known all his life, even though he may be miles from the nearest army cook house.