Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oven Canning

Reader Marilyn wrote: 
"I just bought and read your book about poverty prepping. I just wanted to thank you for writing a book with common sense! Also I wanted to share with you about canning all dry goods in the oven and it will keep for years!!! Probably, not sugar...but flour and dry beans can be dry canned in the oven."

I had never heard of this, and she later emailed with a link to the Countryside Magazine website, where I found the article she was referring to, about oven cannning.  It was listed for the current issue, however it's not available to click and read online.  If you subscribe to the magazine or can read it at your local library, it's probably very interesting.

On google I came up with several websites on a search for "Oven canning", most of which were blog posts with very interesting discussion and debate following the post.  Some people pointed out that it would be a dangerous way to can, since it wouldn't kill the pathogens in most foods, such as meats and vegetables.

Most, however, understood it to be a process in which to kill insects in and seal jars of grains and other dry foods.  The logic to me is that it would preserve the grains and other dry foods for a longer period of time by creating a vacuum and sealing the jar.  Killing any insects present also seems like a good result.

In Backwoods Home Magazine Jackie Clay has written about 'canning' nuts this way, or more properly stated, sealing jars of nuts by creating a vacuum in the jar.  This would lengthen their shelf life, especially if stored in a cool, dark environment.

What I'm not sure about, and would appreciate input on, is whether the same benefit is achieved using a jar sealer attachment on a vacuum sealer such as the "Food Saver".  If so, you'd achieve the desired long-term storage ability without subjecting the food to heat, such as in oven cannning. 

One of the comments I came across on a blog was that grains like wheat would be 'killed' by the heat and couldn't be sprouted.  Then, of course, someone else commented that they'd heard that uncooked grains contained harmful enzymes, which I'd never heard before and dispute the validity of that statement. 

It goes to show that we can FIND all kinds of information on the internet, but how do we know what is really true?  Who's word do we take?  Throughout time there have been "old wives tales", some of which were true or worked, some that weren't or didn't.

My suggestions is to research everything as thoroughly as you can, seek out reputable sources, then ultimately use your common sense.

I welcome comments and questions!


6/16/12, 11:00 PM
This just in, from DKR:

"Over at Hill Billy housewife - ( who had the same question.

Kay Susan said-
"I find it exasperating that so many posts relate to oven canning as safe and easy. As home economist, I have studied safety and food preservation yearly for more than 40 years… State supported extension services, utility companies, canning jar/ lid manufacturers would not accept the liability of recommendations for oven canning! Dry goods versus fruits, vegetables, meat sauces are entirely different foodstuffs."

In a later post, she puts a bottom line on it -
"Please protect yourself from the dangerous liability of advocating oven canning as you prepare your next e-book on food preservation. This is a good forum and I don’t want anything to jeopardize your financial future or —heaven bid — be injured in the process of canning or eating contents that are unsafe."

We dry store food but leave the food out in the car for a few days (at minus 10F it kills all insects and eggs) and use O2 sinks.

I can see where the "food saver" pumps will give a good seal and help exclude oxy. Heating the lids would ensure a better seal I suppose.

Anyway - that this would be of interest to your readers.

(Thank you, DKR!)

From reader Shelli:

"I use dry canning regularly, but let me clarify what that means. Any dry food with less than 10% moisture content can be dry canned. That means things like white rice, dry grains, dry beans, etc. Meats, fruits, and vegetables cannot be dry canned safely. "Dry canning," as I was taught, refers more to canning dry goods than to canning without the waterbath, and it can be done without any heat at all. I use the Food Saver vacuum attachment to dry can all manner of foods that are already shelf stable, just to preserve freshness. An example of some of the foods I've dry canned include: chocolate chips, chocolate candies, dehydrated vegetables and fruits, dried herbs and spices from my garden, baking soda/powder, yeast, and even marshmallows. Dry canning marshmallows is great because they stay soft and fresh much longer than in the bag. Obviously, heat would ruin many of these foods. To kill insects I recommend freezing the food for a few days over heating it, just to preserve the nutrients."

Thank you, Shelli, for this information!

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