I finally decided to try something that I’ve been researching for quite a while now. “Oven Canning”. It’s not really canning, but that what it’s been dubbed. Short version: You slowly heat your dry goods at a low oven temp, which kills any bugs and nasties and rids the food of any excess moisture. You then seal the jar and the shelf life of the dry goods is supposed to be extended by years. Pictured above: Whole Wheat Four, Cornmeal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal and Masa.
My mental breakdown…
- Safety: Yes, I know you can’t “can” in the oven due to the potential for botulism spores to grow. Botulism thrives in moist, low-acid foods. Dry foods are just that…dry. Therefore, the dry foods do not provide conditions for botulism to continue to exist. Coupled with the fact that the foods have already been dried once before, I consider this form of preservation to be very safe. In my opinion, the worst thing that can happen is that the food goes stale.
- Cost Efficient: Preserving dry goods allows me to purchase in bulk and then preserve in more manageable sizes. Yes, I could buy mylar bags, food grade buckets and oxygen absorbers, but how cost efficient is that? And after I open that 5 gallon bucket of whole wheat flour, what are the chances that I’m going to use it all before it goes bad? I’ll be much more likely to use a quart of the same flour and be able to use it while it’s fresh.
- Easy to Store: I find it much easier to store mason jars than I do bagged flour, rice, beans, cornmeal, etc. Some people freeze their flours to kill off any buggies that may be in there. No need to bulk up your freezer with dry goods!
- Emergency Prep: I find this to be a great addition to not just my pantry, but for emergency prep as well. Before I store the jars, I tape a recipe or cooking instructions onto the jar. That way, I’m not searching for a way to use the masa (corn tortillas!) when the time comes.
- Variety: You can preserve some processed foods this way as well. Pastas, some crackers and some cereals can be preserved for much longer than sitting in their original boxes or bags. The thing you have to remember is that these foods must be low in oil or they will become rancid under these preservation conditions. Check the label and make sure any oils used are at or near the bottom of the list of ingredients. So now…when I see my favorite crackers on sale, I can use this method to preserve them until my next picnic and/or pig-out session.
I do have to say, that these are my personal opinions. It is important that you do your own research if you feel unsure about this process and make then make your decision. I haven’t preserved crackers or cereal yet with this method, but it is next on my list!
If you’ve read this far and are still interested in this preservation process, here’s the how-to in order to get started:
- Gather pint or quart mason jars, clean lids and rings.
- Clean and sterilize the jars and then make sure they are BONE DRY. I ran mine through the dishwasher, then air dried overnight. Hand wash the lids and rings, making sure they are thoroughly dry as well.
- Line up empty jars onto a large baking sheet.
- Fill jars with dry goods (using a canning funnel will make this a cleaner job for sure!), shaking the jar slightly to assure the food is settled. Fill the jars, leaving approximately 1/2 inch headspace.
- Place baking sheet with jars into a cold oven. Preheat the oven to 200 degree. (Allowing the jars to slowly heat up will prevent breakage from sudden temperature change). After the oven is preheated, heat the filled jars for one hour.
- Take jars out of the oven ONE JAR AT A TIME, wipe the jar rim with a damp (not wet) paper towel to assure there is not food residue on the rim. This will help assure a good seal.
- Place a clean lid on the jar. Secure with a clean ring, tightening securely, but do not over-tighten. Place covered jar onto a clean dish cloth.
- Do this with each jar, leaving the remaining jars in the oven while you work. You need to do these last few steps rather quickly so that the temperature inside the jars doesn’t lower.
- Let the jars cool for a few hours or overnight. They should all seal during this time (you may or may not hear the “ping”) You can tell that the lid has sealed when the raised circle in the middle of the lid has “sunken” into the jar. It will no longer be raised.
- If you have a jar that hasn’t sealed, put it in your pantry and use it first.
And there you have it! I for one, am very happy that I discovered this preservation method. Not only will it make my life a lot easier, but it will do wonders for my wallet!