Trail Cooking

The Lesser of Two Evils Ain’t Always Better

If you follow my personal blog, you know the frustrations I have faced as I wean our family off processed foods. One of the last crutches was drink mixes – the guys like them. They were happy to swill Crystal Light Lemonade for years until I put my foot down and started buying the Crystal Light Pure Lemonade instead. A year ago I had blogged about them:

Sure, it was a processed food. I knew that. I rationalized that it had to better: no artificial coloring (dyes), sweetened with a blend of Stevia (using their Truvia™ brand) and sugar instead of Nutrasweet™….the fact that it was starting to dye my beverage containers I tried to overlook. I looked the other way that it was made by the big “K” food company. It had to be better than the original was my delusion. At least it didn’t leave a thick, sticky scum in bladders and drink containers…

Until Kirk showed me something:

He was getting one of his kayaks ready for a trip and found a Nalgene bottle he had forgotten to bring in. It had been in one of the stash areas, it has been cool here, the kayak was shaded under trees. The bottle had been clean, I had made him a quart of lemonade before he went out in it and used filtered water. But in 2 or so weeks time something had happened. Something gross.

There were two blobby things floating in the water, both about the size of an egg. You could swish the bottle and they didn’t break up. I poured out some of the water to get a better look and one tried to slip out, it was like an egg white. Yet the container didn’t smell bad when open. I left the bottle sealed and came back with a glass to get better photos. Part of it was drying against the inside, you can see a streak near the numbers in the above photo. I poured the water into the glass:

Like a jellyfish floating is what crossed my mind. But what was freaky to me is that I have forgotten about bladders and bottles before, left in a backpack, sometimes in a warm car trunk for weeks, with the original CL in it and nothing like this occurred. I’d have to scrub it good and bleach the yellow dye scum but they were good to go. But weird blobs? That was new. Would love to know why it did what it did. But I can say this: I won’t be buying it again. Whatever it is, I don’t want anyone in my family drinking it! I would love to know how the blobs came to be. If anyone has a guess, I am all ears. My theory is the Maltodexterin? It is a starch……

Ingredient list?

Sugar, Citric Acid, Maltodexterin, calcium lactate. Contains less than 2% of Natural flavor, Rebiana (Truvia), Sodium Citrate, Magnesium oxide, Oleoresin turmeric (for color).


6 thoughts on “The Lesser of Two Evils Ain’t Always Better

  1. It’s most likely a mold that’s growing on the sugar in the drink mix. Without preservatives or a high acid content, there’s nothing to stop it. I’ve seen it happen before, too. FWIW, I never put flavorings in my water bottles for this very reason. I’ve got phobias about getting sick in the back country.

  2. Sarah, darlin’….. look at the ingredients. What you’ve got there is sugar-water. Damn near anything will grow in a sugar solution, even in the cool and dark. You’ve probably got some kind of yeast or bacteria culture going, like kombucha or water kefir. That said, I wouldn’t drink it, just flush & sterilize the bottle before re-use.

    I think you’re on the right track, getting beyond the processed foods…. I wish I were doing so well. Ya know, if they want lemonade (& we all do ), let’em make lemonade – not much harder than mixing up that CL junk. It’s gotta be better for you.

    Thanks for the great blog! Neil

  3. Good point, especially since it has actual sugar in the mix. And I agree, on backpacking trips I don’t add flavorings to my main bladder, only to the second bladder I carry.

  4. Yep….I will post my “trail lemonade” recipe this week that I drink (and now will get the guys to drink as well!)

  5. It is normal for starch to do some pretty unexpected things. Look up some videos for “non-newtonian fluid” made with plain ol’ corn starch.

    I drink water.

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