"The hard-working lumbermen of Canada and Maine eat a very large quantity of sugar in the form, of molasses. I have seen them add it to tea and to almost everything they cook. Sugar has also been found of much service upon polar expeditions".
Many of our sportsmen, when going light, substitute saccharin (saxin, crystallose) for sugar, thinking thereby to save weight and bulk. This is a grave error. It is true that saccharin has enormous sweetening power, and that moderate use of it on an outing trip, in one's tea and coffee, will do no harm. But the point overlooked is that sugar is a concentrated source of energypeasily and quickly assimilated, whereas saccharin produces no energy at all, being nothing but a coal-tar drug. It is the grape sugar in raisins, for example, that makes them so stimulating.
Sir Ernest Shackleton, in outfitting his party for their recent antarctic expedition, made sugar figure largely in the rations. On the previous exploring trip he and his companions each took two or three lumps of sugar every two or three hours, and he said that ten minutes after eating it they could feel the heat going through their bodies.
One at least of the nations engaged in the present war supplies its men in the trenches with a daily ration of ten ounces of sugar, which is over three times the allowance of sugar in the field ration of our own service. "It has been found, however," says Outing, "that this abundance of sweet not only gives the soldier added muscular strength but increases his resistance to cold and fatigue, both physical and nervous. The action of sugar is most effective when dissolved in some hot liquid: it is especially beneficial taken in chocolate".
One fault of all the ready-made concentrated rations that I have seen was that they contained no acids. A fruit acid is needed, even in a food preparation that is to be used only for a day or two, in order to correct the ultra-sweet or fatty components, and is particularly desirable in summer. It is easy to supply the deficiency, in very concentrated form, by adding tablets of citric acid. This makes refreshing lemonade. Lime-juice tablets are good on the march, as they combine sugar with acid, and not only supply energy but ward off thirst. Fruit acid is supplied in very palatable form by dehydrated rhubarb and cranberries, which cook in a few minutes, and can scarcely be told from the fresh articles.
Raisins have already been mentioned several times. Their stimulating effect, due to the grape sugar in them, is felt ten minutes after eating. On the trail, when working hard, as in mountain climbing, it is a good rule to eat little and often. Raisins are particularly convenient for munching as one goes along. They have added value in that they are mildly laxative, and something of that sort is certainly needed in the ration. Figs have the same virtue. I imagine the seeds have something to do with this, and for that reason I do not use seedless or seeded raisins.
Dehydrated vegetables have no place in emergency rations simply because they require long cooking.
The mere weight of the tin container of the discarded U. S. A. emergency ration was a serious objection. Such a box will weigh about a third as much as the food itself. Being made of heavy tin, it is hard to open. If a key opener is attached, it is likely to be lost. A cover of parchment paper, which is waterproof, dirt-proof, and insect-proof, like the erbswurst "sausage," is cheaper, easier to apply, weighs practically nothing, and can be torn off with the fingers.
I think it is a mistake to mix meat powder with legumes or cereals and seal the mass up in an airtight cover. In such case, each food taints the other. The combination has a stale, nondescript taste, whereas each component would preserve its natural flavor if packed separately. For woodsmen, if not for troops, it seems more practical to put up the emergency ration in two, or even three, separate packages, each containing only such articles as will not taint nor steal flavor from the others. This suggestion is made for rations to be carried in stock by outfitters, which are likely to be kept a gooo\ while in storage.
But when a camper puts up emergency grub for himself, there is a better way. Raisins, pinole, and the like, are best carried in little bags of thin paraffined cloth (the "balloon silk" of tent makers), tied low enough so that the top can be doubled over and tied again, making a water-tight package, very light, and soft enough to go into one's pocket, or anywhere. Chocolate (which I don't carry in hot weather) usually comes wrapped in tin-foil, and enclosed in paper. You will need salt, in a water-pi oof bag or a bamboo tube, to season such game or fish as you may get.
If you carry anything in which water can be boiled, put a dozen tabloids of tea in the ration, leave out chocolate and substitute sugar. A hot cup of sweetened tea is one of the best hearteners that I know of, and the tabloid tea sold by outfitters is pretty good. But what vessel to boil in? Water can be boiled in a bark cup, as I shall show hereafter; but maybe you can't find bark that will peel. A practical outdoorsman, C. L. Gilman, suggests that the emergency food be packed in a half-pound cocoa can, which is of handy shape for the pocket, seamed water-tight without solder, holds a pint, and has a cover that fits over the outside. Punch two holes near top edge of can, and make a removable wire bail that will stow inside. Steam escape* through bail holes when cover is on. Thus your grub has a light tin container that is good for something when it is opened.
For myself, I would fill that little kettle with pinole, sugar, tea, and salt, in "pokes," and would carry some raisins separately. One advantage of pinole, aside from those already mentioned, is that it is not, like chocolate and raisins, a confection that tempts one to draw on it when he does not need it, albeit the flavor is good, when the stuff is properly prepared, and does not pall on the appetite.