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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dry Canning. Easy-Peasy.

When you buy dry stores in bulk (oats, lentils, barley, beans), you are sometimes left with storage problems:  creepy-crawlies in your oats...or no room in your freezer.

Black beans, brown lentils, oats, red lentils

I read an article a while back in Countryside Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011?) that described dry canning - and I couldn't believe how easy it was!

Basically, this is what I do:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Take clean, dry quart or half-gallon canning jars and fill them with whatever I am canning.  Put them in a roasting pan, or other high-sided pan.  I do this strictly for ease of getting them in and out of the oven - you can also put them on a cookie sheet.  Once the oven has preheated, put the pan with open, filled jars (NO LIDS) into the oven and close the door.  Leave them in the oven for one hour.  Remove from the oven and, being very careful NOT to burn your fingers, wipe the jar rims quickly with a damp cloth and place clean, dry flats on top of the hot jars and screw on the rings.  Let the jars sit and cool.  As they cool, you may hear the telltale "ping" as they vacuum seal, depending on how quickly it works.  Test for a seal.  That is it.  If a jar does not seal, which happens on occasion, I put that jar to the front to use first.
This way, I can take advantage of a sale at the co-op of 25# of organic rolled oats!  Have I mentioned that I eat a lot of oats?  So far, I have dry canned oats, black beans and lentils.  According to the article, you can oven can:  flours, cornmeal, rice, beans, pasta, dried onions, oatmeal, box cereals, potato flakes, dried vegetables - even some nuts, such as almonds and pecans.  The trick is to make sure the food stuffs are dry (no more than 10% moisture) and do not contain a high level of oil, such as walnuts.  I would imagine that dry milk could be dry canned as well.

It is a great, frugal way of storing food for years.  Try it!

12 comments:

  1. Susan,

    That is a fabulous way to dry can your goods and very frugal.

    You may also use a device that attaches to your a Food Saving machine and your jar if you have one.

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    1. Sandy, I don't have one - but I've heard about it. Since I am trying not to add things this year, I'll keep with the oven canning.

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  2. Never heard of this, and now I wish I had some half-gallon jars! Lids have gotten more expensive and I haven't ever had a problem with bugs, though (except for some flour my mom brought me from TX), so I don't know if I'll do it.

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    1. Michelle, I love those half-gallon jars. They're hard to come by around here and, when they are available, they are expensive. I ran across a real bargain while visiting Maine and snatched up six of them.

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  3. I put my beans, peas, rice, groats, barley, millet, etc. in half gallon jars along with 2-3 bay leaves in each jar. (The bay leaves are supposed to ward of bugs and creepy crawlies.) Then the jars are stored in a cool, dark place until needed. Using this method, I've been lucky and never had a problem with insects.

    But I can see that using the dry canning method, and getting the jars to "ping" and vacuum seal might be even better.

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    1. Mama Pea, I was wondering if that worked. I've heard about it - and I do have bay leaves. Maybe I'll do an experimental jar or two.

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  4. Ok, I'm glad you did this so I can reasonably talk about this method. I've seen it on a blog or two & also saw it in the same magazine. But I don't get it. How, if water bath canning gets up to 212 degrees (I'm assuming, boiling water & all), how can this method work? Or is it because it's dry stuff? And what about the fact that beans aren't high-acid foods? I love the idea, but I just don't understand!!!!

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    1. Carolyn, it's really just a way to keep dry stores sealed up in a vacuum without the chance of bugs, spoilage, etc. for years. It basically heats the, say, beans, to kill any insect eggs, etc., then it seals said beans in a nice sturdy jar. Where they can sit on a shelf for years. It's less a preserving process than a long-term storage process. Clear as mud?

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  5. That is fantastic!

    When we first lived abroad I would buy bags of basmati rice - probably 10lbs a bag - and after a while there would be COCOONS in the container! YUCK!!! I got in the habit of freezing the bag for a couple of days after purchasing - same with flours - and never had that problem again, even though I didn't keep the items in the freezer after the first couple of days. If there was anything in there, I didn't see it and what I didn't know about didn't hurt me!

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  6. Why do I always seem to be the last person to learn these neat things?!? I do have a question though, can you "reseal" the jars after opening? I keep my lentils and and split peas freezer now because I just don't use them often enough. I also freeze my "bulk" flours for a few days, like Jenyfer mentioned, before using them.
    I don't know about where you are, but here, ACE Hardware will order the half gallon jars for you.

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  7. I think oven canning is a great way to go. I heard about it a few years ago. Some also oven can butter, not that hard. Living in a dry climate I don't do that, but it's good to know! And I ALWAYS freeze my flours, grains, etc. for several days before using to cut down on any tiny bus, etc.

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  8. I seal the big stuff in mylar bags and leave in the freezer for the day to kill everything that might be in it, then when I open the bags they go into the half gallon jars with the white ball screw caps :)

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