Dried goods are an essential part of any long-term food storage plan. Many people leave their dry goods in the bags they come in for storage, but there are many benefits to dry canning instead of leaving your flour, sugar and other dry goods in the containers within which youve purchased them. These benefits include keeping pantry pests out and keeping the foods fresh for longer periods of time. Most people cycle through their food storage about once every five years, but foods that have been properly dry canned may be good for up 20 years or more.
What to Dry Can
Dry canning is a very effective method of preserving baking ingredients and other dry goods. These include rice, beans, grains, spices, flour, lentils and baking soda. It is best to store grains whole, if possible. If you keep a grain mill handy, you can grind whole grains as you use them. It can make your life easier if you label each jar with the contents and baking instructions so that theyre on hand and ready for you when you need them. Noting the date on each jar is also helpful so that you can be sure to use the oldest foods first.
The Dry Canning Process
To begin dry canning your dry goods, there are a few things you should have on hand to make the project a success. These items include:
Canning jars of various sizes (these can be found at almost any large-chain grocery store)
Screw bands and canning lids to fit your jars
At least one funnel
Towels and Potholders
The size of your jars will depend on the number of people you plan to feed. Families will likely use half-gallon jars, while a single person may want to use pint-sized jars for storage. Start by preheating the oven until it reaches 200 degrees. While the oven is heating, you can fill the canning jars with dry goods, remembering to leave half-an-inch of space at the top. Place the jars in the oven without lids for one hour, then wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel and place a lid on each jar. Screw a metal band onto each jar lid to seal and then place it back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Allow the jars to cool after they have been removed from the oven, then check to be sure they have sealed. The foods should be stored in a cool, dry place until use.
One of the main benefits of this dry-canning technique is the ability to confidently keep out pests. Having to throw out your stored food due to bugs is painful, especially if you buy in bulk. Its much easier to simply dry can the food and protect it from being invaded by pests from the get-go. If, however, youre dealing with an infestation of some kind, youll need to attack it with preventative measures like dry canning in addition to contacting a pest control company.
This set-it-and-forget-it method is easy and rewards you with a worry-free storage experience. Another benefit of dry canning versus storing your dry goods in bags is that you can create your own mixes and store them with your other goods, creating a simple and easy solution for mealtime planning. Enjoy!