Dry Canning: How To Store Food Longer

metal cans with food

Grains and nuts are a favorite for many people who enjoy dry canning.

When these are dried out well, they can be preserved and eaten at periods with lower production. Dry canning requires canned food to be sealed with leads then placed in a scorching oven.

However, this is not the only scenario that explains dry canning. In some instances, certain foods require heating the jars first then fastening the lids after for the best preservation. Although some argue that this is not the right way to do dry canning, it’s still the most widely used and requires jars, not cans.

What is Dry Canning?

mason jars are best choice

Mason jars are the best when it comes to dry canning to preserve food over a long time.

Once you select the food you want to store, pick the jars according to the size you want. On them, you can keep all sorts of dry food and have as many as your pantry can hold.

Additionally, their compact size and design make them easy to stack on top of each other, saving valuable shelf space. Some opt to use an oven when dry canning; perhaps the best method is using oxygen absorbers.

These absorbers create a vacuum in the jar, preventing any living organisms from spoiling the food content. It’s a better method to use and is considered a safer option by many since it incurs fewer risks.

What is Dry Oven Canning?

jars in oven

When food supplies decrease, and the economy is on the brink, dry oven canning is again in many people’s mouths.

Using this method, more families can preserve food supplies and ensure they have enough to ride out the harsh times that are beckoning.

As much as other canning methods are more comfortable and more popular, now dry oven canning is at the centre stage. More people are interested in knowing all the food they can preserve. But, what is dry canning?

Dry oven canning is a food preservation method where food is first heated in an oven or dried out before being placed on a jar. After that, a seal is screwed on to prevent any air from contaminating the food inside. A tight jar makes a pop sound once the lid is in place, and you can store it in the pantry for use at a later date.

As many people consider dry canning food using the oven, it’s by far the most popular method to use. Start by preheating the oven then placing the food inside at temperatures of 200F and above for the best results. Why? High temperatures are essential to ensure the food is in a sterile container and free from any contaminants.

Furthermore, this is what processing entails for the food to last for years to come without getting spoilt. Preserving food only for it to get spoilt is a waste of important shelf space at a time of need.

However, there are concerns around the concept of dry oven canning that you should note even as you use this method. For one, many people are concerned about the inaccuracy of oven thermometers. They’re notorious for getting the temperature wrong, which can be disastrous for food preservation.

Only temperatures above 200F can completely sterilize the food and jars for the best preservation. If the temperature is less than the required, then the whole process is meaningless as food will soon go bad after sealing.

Additionally, ovens circulate the heat evenly, which means some food experience lower temperatures that might make the food spoil.

The only way to ensure your food in jars get even heat distribution is to cook with it first. You can bake a cake, and if it’s evenly brown, the oven is okay to use for dry canning. If not, then don’t use it for this crucial process.

Another challenge with this method of dry canning is the risk of explosion due to high temperatures. While some ovens might have lower temperatures, others can go in the opposite direction. Too much heat on the dry canning jars makes a perfect recipe for an explosion. Here it’s once safer to test out your oven first before taking the risk.

Additionally, there’s still little proof of the success of dry canning using an oven. It leaves many to wonder if it’s the best food preservation method or should try out another more suitable process. Still, despite the doubt and risks, it’s a way to preserve dry food to last for a long time.

Finally, you have the risk of food poisoning because of botulism that enjoys such environments. It thrives in these conditions and puts you at risk. The problem with it is you can detect it with the naked eye or even smell it as it produces no odor.

However, it’s deadly and requires immediate attention, which is why there’s a concern about dry canning in an oven.

If this all sounds too much, you can opt to use other canning methods that have fewer concerns. All in all, the main goal is to have as much food saved away as possible.

How to Oven Can

dry oven canning

Armed with all the essential information, you can now try dry oven canning at home and see the results.

Always keep in mind all the risks involved and weigh if it’s the best method to use. The good news is it’s a simple process that doesn’t require much guidance to complete.

Therefore, this dry canning method requires a keen eye on temperatures to completely sterilize the cans and food, as earlier stated above. Why is it a necessary process? Well, it helps kill off all germs, larvae, eggs, and other parasites on the jars and in the food.

Always note that dry canning only works for food with as little moisture content as possible. It explains why it’s most suitable for flours, nuts, and grains. Most of this food have less than 10% moisture content, making them ideal for long-term preservation.

For this process, start by assembling the jars you intend to use and in different sizes. Some food requires larger jars than others. You want to have enough to prevent running to the store in the middle of the dry canning process.

After assembling the jars, think through what food you want to process. Always go for what the family enjoys to eat as well as what usually is scarcely available. You can dry oven can white rice, red kidney beans, cheese powder, whole grains, powdered milk, oatmeal, wheat, pasta, other dehydrated food such as crisps, fruits, among others.

Once you have all your food at hand, you can commence dry canning using an oven.

  • Preheat the oven to ensure even temperature distribution at 200F.
  • Take the jars and lids and thoroughly clean them using soap and water. After that, use a clean cloth to dry them while checking for cracks on the jars and lids. You should immediately place aside the ones that are having cracks.
  • Take a canning funnel and fill each jar with food content. Ensure you leave about half an inch of free space between the food and lid.
  • Once all the jars are full, place a baking sheet on a baking pan and place the jars on it.
  • Transfer the jars into the oven and leave it for 1 hour to perfect the food and jars’ sterilization.
  • Once the 1 hour elapses, remove the jars and wipe the rim with a clean cloth. Follow this by screwing on the lids tightly until you hear the pop. Take caution since the jars are hot at this point.
  • With the pop, seal the jars, and you can safely store them in your pantry away from any draft.
  • For easy management, plan out your pantry and use labels to note the preservation date and the content in each jar.

Another way to dry oven can is to seal the jars before popping them into the oven. Choose which one works best for you, and start preserving your food today.

Temperature Control and Thermometers

As mentioned above, temperatures above 200F are best suited to keep the food sterile.

Any food under heated runs the risk of being infected by parasites and going bad. As you start your dry canning process, you must test your oven to note whether the temperature controls and thermometer work.

The best way to do this is to observe how it cooks food. Those with even burn patterns are proof of even temperature distribution.

Other Methods of Dry Canning

vacuum sealing method

Apart from using an oven for dry canning, there are other ways to preserve your food in jars for longer.

You can opt to try out as many as possible to narrow down the one that works best for you.

Vacuum Sealing

There is specific equipment you can use to vacuum-seal your food and preserve it for a long time. Here you remove all oxygen from the jars once the food is placed inside and sealing with a lid. It allows the food to remain edible for some time without getting spoilt.

However, you must know how to preserve food using this method correctly. Failure to do so will retain oxygen, which contributes to food getting spoilt. Properly vacuum sealed dry-canned food can endure the test of time, leaving you with supplies that last. Still, the process is delicate and requires ample practice to perfect.

Dehydration Process

Dry canning requires food to have as little moisture content as possible or none at all. Once you have dehydrated your food using the oven or other methods, you can place them in jars and seal them for future consumption.

Many people use the dehydration method to preserve a wide variety of food, including meat, vegetables, and fruits. What this does is broaden the dry canning process to include more food.

What Foods Can be Dry Canned and How Long Do They Last?

pasta in mason jars

Dry canning is only successful if the food lasts for a more extended period. You want food available for years to come and only to get easily spoilt after a short period. Thus, the method of dry canning you choose is crucial to the overall success of this process.

As good as dry canning is, you need to know the different foods to preserve and how long they’ll remain consumable. Well, you can rest easy as most dry, canned foods last for years to come if kept in the best conditions. However, ten years down the line, the taste will have changed from what you’re used to.

The different varieties of canned foods you can store include:

  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Dry corn
  • Powder cheese
  • Pasta without eggs
  • Dry legumes
  • Banana chips
  • Biscuit mix
  • Cereals
  • Raisins
  • Sugar

All these food have a varying shelf life even after dry canning. As much as they can last for years, they get spoilt even if it is 10 years to come.

What Foods Can’t and shouldn’t be Dry Canned?

different types of vegetables

While dry canning can be tempting to store everything, certain foods don’t fare well with these preservation methods. Therefore, it’s essential to skip them and stick to only those ideal for this process.

The food you should avoid dry canning are as follows:

  • Milk
  • Lard
  • Moist or cooked beans and legumes
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Pickled eggs
  • Cornstarch
  • Nuts and seeds, due to their high oil content

All these foods have higher moisture content and make it impossible to dry for extended periods safely. Thus, within a short time of storage, they get spoilt.

Possible Sanitary Concerns While Dry Canning

Even if you opt for dry oven canning, there are sanitary concerns that can make you think twice about the whole process.

Moisture content

It’s not possible to completely dry out foods. Even dry beans and other similar foods have some moisture content in them. This means that the whole dry canning concept is a gable even when you opt to use the oven to preserve your food.

Also, dry oven canning is not as safe when you consider the whole process. Once the foods are on the jars and placed in the oven, their moisture doesn’t dissipate. It moves to the foods’ surface, and after you start noticing moisture condense inside the jars after sealing with leads.

With moisture content inside the jars, it’s impossible to avoid bacteria and mold growth in the preserved food. If you don’t notice and eat the food, you will risk getting a nasty infection and food poisoning. Also, the risk of salmonella in such situations is high.

Lower food quality

tomatoes in jars

Apart from the risks of spoilt food, the longer it remains in the jars, the poor its overall quality. Imagine eating grains that you have stored for over 10 years. There’s little chance the taste will be the same, and the foods won’t be as nutritious as when they are fresh before dry canning.

Unsealed jars

As much as it’s possible to re-can jars before 24 hours are up, it’s not the most sanitary step to take. Imagine you discover this on the 23rd hour. The damage is already done, and the food is contaminated even if you can’t see the culprits.

Start the process all over again and not merely replace the seal with another one. That way, you ensure that the food inside is sterile and won’t be a breeding ground for harmful microbes.

Unclean jars

While in a hurry to complete the dry canning process, it’s tempting to clean jars quickly and get on with it. However, this is a risky move as jars contain germs and microbes not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, ensure you apply as much soap on them as possible and dry only with a clean cloth.

Conclusion

Dry canning is an intriguing method to preserve as much dry foodstuff as possible, especially when you foresee times of lack. Once you do it correctly, the good news is you can have food reserves for longer and not need to get more.

However, dry canning is not a bulletproof food preservation method and comes with its set of risks. For example, dry oven canning is not recommended due to a higher risk factor. Still, you have other dry canning methods to choose from while weighing the risks of each.

As you choose the right dry canning method, consider all the risks involved, and opt for the most suitable. Also, note all the foods that can be dry canned and those that mustn’t be. What this does is keep you safe from potential health risks, including infections and food poisoning, at a later date.