Dry canning, a new term to me, is the art of storing dry foods and will give them an almost indefinite shelf life.
Photo by Ellen Olsson
Miss Google is a great asset for learning about just about anything. However, it can lead you astray, as I found out the other day. When carrying out any food preservation project, it is essential to check multiple websites and ensure that each is a reliable source of information. You must be satisfied with your knowledge without a shadow of a doubt.
My recent canning experience started with a YouTube video on dry canning. As someone who has always canned many of my own fruits and vegetables, I have never given too much thought to storing dry foods. I always put my flour, cornmeal and other dry products in the freezer, because of the “insects” that could get in. The downside is that it takes up a lot of space in the freezer.
So I was thrilled when I came across a video about baking canning. I thought I had found a way to buy dry goods in bulk and store them without them going bad. However, with a little more research, I found that there are different ways to store these dried foods and some are better than others.
What foods can be dry canned?
In a nutshell, “dry pack canning” is used for foods that have less than 10 percent moisture and low in oil. Foods like nuts that contain oils become rancid if stored for long periods of time. Foods such as pasta, grains, white rice, white flour (unlike brown rice or flour, which contains oils), beans, corn, powdered milk and egg, herbs and spices and other dried foods are great choices for dry canning.
Oxidation is what causes food to spoil, so removing oxygen from food will allow it to retain its freshness and quality for long periods of time. The air itself contains 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and one percent other gases. Nitrogen does not affect food.
There are basically three methods of dry canning: oven canning, canning with oxygen absorbers and jar sealers for food savers. It was the baking canning video that caught my eye, although it isn’t considered the safest way to go. Here’s what all three involve.
Canning in the oven
Not 100% sure. This method has been around since the 1940s and many “seasoned” home canners swear by it, although the USDA now considers it dangerous because it does not seal in all the moisture and botulism can contaminate food. Another risk is that mason jars are not designed to withstand high temperatures without any liquids and may shatter or explode when placed at these temperatures for long periods of time.
To treat. It’s basically a simple process. First of all, all jars must be washed, sterilized and perfectly dry. Then they are filled with dry ingredients, leaving half an inch of free space. Place all the jars on a baking sheet and put in an oven that preheats to 200 *. It is important that the jars are placed in the oven during the preheating phase to prevent them from cracking.
Cooling and use. After the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, leave them in for an hour. Then remove one jar at a time, place the lid on and tighten the ring, placing the jar on a towel to cool. As they cool, the lids should “pop” like they do in regular canning. However, although the lids may seal, if too much moisture remains in the jars, they can be dangerous to consume due to mold growth or botulism.
Mason jars with oxygen absorbers
It is by far the safest and easiest method of dry canning. Oxygen absorbers are small packages containing iron powder. When placed in airtight containers, oxygen molecules “stick” to the iron. These small sachets can reduce the amount of oxygen in the containers to less than 0.01%, which is considered safe.
Use, simply place the dry food in a mason jar or Mylar bag and place the oxygen absorbers on the food and seal with lids and rings. It takes about 30 minutes for them to absorb the moisture and for the lid to close. These can also be used with food grade 5 gallon buckets to store large amounts of food. The thing to remember here is that once the bucket is opened, the food that you are not using should be placed in smaller containers and stored again, because you have left oxygen inside.
Fast transfer. The most important thing to remember when using oxygen absorbers is to make sure that they are not exposed to the air for a while, as they will start to absorb oxygen from the oxygen. air, causing them to exhale in the jars.
Quantity. Use enough for the amount of food you are storing. The best rule of thumb is to use enough absorption to deoxygenate the entire empty pot. Usually 100 cc is recommended for quarts and 200 cc for quarts.
Most importantly, make sure they are still good before using them or your food and your time will be wasted. Remember that once the package is opened, they are all on display. When held in your hand, if they feel like the powder is loose inside, they are not expired.
Food Saving Jar Sealer
The third method is to use a mason jar attachment with your food saver machine. It seals the lids of the jars to create a vacuum seal that traps air. This method is considered safe and you do not need oxygen absorbers. If you already have a vacuum sealer, this may be the way to go.
Dry canning has its advantages but also its disadvantages. On the plus side, you can take advantage of bulk discounts and store large amounts of dry food for emergencies and reduce trips to the store. Even though it frees up freezer space, it still requires a bit of space elsewhere to store food grade jars and buckets. For example, it takes 24 pint jars to store 50 pounds of rice.
Removing oxygen prevents food from degrading due to oxidation, so freshness and flavor are preserved for long periods of time. It prevents mold and bacteria from growing in food and kills parasites. Canned dry foods can be stored for 30 years or more as long as the seal remains intact.
The jars should be kept in a dark place where the temperature is below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A dark cabinet or basement works well. Many make the mistake of canned sugar and salt and it is not necessary, as these items themselves are used as food preservatives.
I will definitely be redesigning my fruit cellar to make room for dry preserves. I like the idea of always having supplies on hand when needed. Saving money is also a plus! Since I don’t have a vacuum sealer, oxygen absorbers are going to be my choice.
Dry canning is just one more step towards self-sufficiency and who wouldn’t like it.
Lois Hoffman is a freelance writer and photographer covering rural life with over 20 years of experience contributing to the success of farming, the countryside, and farm and ranch life. She lives on a 37-acre hobby farm in Pennsylvania. Read all GRIT de Lois publishes here.
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Posted on March 20, 2021
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