Carrying Oil On The Trail: A Quick Primer

We often call for oil in our recipes for some good reasons: oil is a great source of calories, much needed fats and most of all makes your meals taste so much better!(120 calories and 14 grams fat per Tablespoon? Stellar!)

Now carrying that oil can be messy. For long trips a plastic 8 ounce bottle of oil from the grocery store can be nice (if you can find the bottles, thankfully most good quality olive oil still comes in glass!) Even then though carrying a bottle can be messy. Oil drips down the side, you need a stash bag and remember to carry it in a pot or similar to avoid any unpleasant spills, should they occur. You can of course carry it in a bottle of choice, often found in outdoor stores. Again, be sure to bag the container…just in case. You can also find travel sized containers of oil in stores like Cost Plus World Market (look in the gourmet food section for building food baskets), check in the oil section at fancier grocery stores or online – Minimus carries a number of bottles, with about 3½ servings in a bottle (some are even flavored).

Or…you can go the route I decided on many years ago: individual serving packets of oil. No mess, no fuss. You get exactly what you need for a meal and nothing to worry about.

The packets are ½ fluid ounce, about a Tablespoon each. When you see in a recipe where a packet of oil is called for, this is what we are referring to. Finding them locally can be hard, though some sandwich and sub shops carry them – you can always ask if they will sell you some. But overall the easiest way to get them is to order online. I usually order 20-40 at a time from Minimus. They carry the organic packets I prefer. The “buy $20 gets you free shipping” is always a great deal from them. Packitgourmet carries the organic packets and also the Salad & Sandwich oil packets. The Salad & Sandwich packets are a bonus for a couple reasons – one they work well with pan frying (see our recipe for Pizza Pan Biscuits) – the oil has a higher smoke point, meaning you can crank up the heat a bit more without burning the oil and it also has a lot less ‘olive’ flavor – I know not everyone loves the taste of extra virgin olive oil.

Yes, the packets do produce a small amount of trash. On the other hand you have no spills, messes and your oil stays perfectly fresh between trips – the little metal pouches are tough as nails!

~Sarah

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  1. The packets do make oily trash, which I’m not found of.

    I found a very small (2oz, 60ml) polycarbonate lab bottle at REI, and it is great for carrying olive oil. It has a very secure lid. I still pack it inside a ziplock bag, just because.

    Here is the bottle, though Nalgene only sells them direct in a case of 96 bottles. Your local lab supply might have something similar.

    http://www.nalgenelabware.com/products/productDetail.asp?product_id=289&subcategory_id=&category_id=130&brand_name=Labware&category_name=Bottles&subcategory_name=#

    Here is a similar HDPE bottle from Nalgene Outdoors:
    http://www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store/detail.aspx?ID=925

    Spending $0.83 on a bottle and refilling it probably saves a lot of money. Heck, get a second one for balsamic vinegar.

  2. I carry my olive oil in a cough medicine bottle. (the smallest the pharmacy has) If you ask the pharmicist nicely they will give you one for free.

    I have also read of people making small bags with a vacuum sealer. Measuring a Tablespoon or two of oil and freeze standing up. When the oil is solid vacuum seal the little packets.

  3. For the weekend hiker the packets work out well – for the long distance hiker not so much, then a bottle is cheaper. Convenience can trump in this case.

  4. I do agree on the cough syrup bottles, they don’t leak. As for the other bottles, even the ones sold by REI….yet to find one that doesn’t leak!