Saturday, June 30, 2012

Save Money by Oven Canning Dry Goods

Back in February, I was asked to do a demonstration on making laundry soap at a friend's church for their woman's group. The theme for the evening was frugality--saving money. (The soap demo went well--I did the Ivory soap in the microwave thing. If you've never tried that, you need to! Your kids will love it!)

But I digress. :-)

That night, my friend, Ruth, passed out copies of a magazine article about canning dry goods in your oven. I call it Dry Canning. I made sure to keep this little treasure because I could see how you could save quite a bit by buying things at an exceptionally good price and keep it stored without fear of spoilage--or the little creepy crawlies that like to invade things like flour and cornmeal.

Here are the basic instructions for Dry Canning:

--Use clean jars, of course.
--Fill the jars, leaving about .5 inch headspace.
--Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
--Put the jars on a cookie sheet/s, Fill it up as much as you can.
--Go do something fun for an hour. Read a book. Paint your nails. Save the world.
--After an hour, take the jars out one at a time. Working quickly, wipe the rims with a damp cloth. Put the lid and the ring on the jar, and tighten. Place on a towel or cooling rack.
--The jars will seal, but I've never heard them "ping". However, the lids do not pop up--they just don't seal quick enough to make a noise.

When they're cool, write the name and date on the lid with a permanent marker. I also put any directions like to make rice you mix one part rice, two parts water, then boil for 15 minutes covered. Make up your own shorthand that makes sense to you.

Store them in a dry place that doesn't usually get over 75 degrees.

That's all you have to do! According to the magazine article, these will last for 20-30 YEARS!

What can you can in the oven?
--Dried onions
--Box cereals
--Potato flakes
--Dried vegetables

You can even dry can almonds and pecans. Walnuts will not keep because of the amount of oil in them.

I've wondered if you could can popcorn, but haven't tried it yet. :-) I may also try dried milk--I use it for cooking.

So, how did this work in my little world?

It just so happened that I had a dozen half-gallon canning jars in the garage--still shrink-wrapped. I got them from a woman who was moving out of state and just wanted things gone.

I bought a 25-pound bag of flour at Sam's Club for $7.49. It filled 9 of the half-gallon jars, plus topped off my canister.

Breaking it down into 5-pound increments (which is how I'd usually buy flour) makes each $1.50. A five-pound bag of flour at Sav-a-Lot is $1.99. You can probably find it for less if you're good at couponing and watching for sales. This also doesn't take into account the cost of the jars or the membership price for Sam's Club, but that's not really the point today. Just get dry goods at the best price you can, stock up, and then protect them from spoiling.

If you have to go out and buy jars new at the store, you probably won't realize much savings--especially at first. However, if you have jars, or access to jars, or can find them at yard sales, you'll feel less pinch in your pocketbook when you get started.

Keep in mind that the prices of items are always rising. If you can buy a good supply at a good price, it's like locking that price in for the future.

I also like knowing that I have a few reserves of things we use all the time. They aren't taking up freezer space (I previously kept extra flour in the freezer.), and I don't have to worry about tasting freezer burn or a power outage.

If you'd happen to have a jar that doesn't seal, just put it in your pantry and use it. You may be able to can it again, although I haven't had to try it yet.

Leave a comment if you have a question. I'd love to hear how it works for you, too!

This week I'm linking at....

Tip Junkie handmade projects Somewhat Simple The Shabby Nest
Blissful and Domestic


Jessica said...

This is fabulous! I clicked over from Raising Arrows just because I have a huge bag of flour from Costco that I'm not sure how to store! I have canning jars already, so I'm going to try this tomorrow!


Claiming Our Space said...

I hadn't heard of canning dry goods but it makes sense. We don't have room in our freezer for my extra flour so this is the perfect solution. I would love it if you shared this on Tout It Tuesday.

Dana said...

Jessica--Let me know how it goes!

Y'all over at "Claiming Our Space"--I linked up, but your blog's badge's photo says it's been removed. Thought you'd like to know! Thanks for inviting me!

Kelli Becton said...

this is a great tip! thanks

Moy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moy said...

Do you freeze it first to kill any larvae/eggs or does the oven do that?

Holly Parker said...

What about using jars such a spaghetti sauce, salsa, and other such type jars? Does it necessarily have to be "canning jars", cause I use those other types jars for left overs instead of plastic containers. I have a ton of those regular type jars and wondered if it would work the same way.

Anonymous said...

Did you find out if spagetti jars work?

Dana said...

I happened to have my flour in the freezer because I wanted to keep it pest-free until I could get it canned. The original instructions didn't say anything about it, so it's not a prerequisite. I have never froze anything else prior to canning it.

Yes, other jars will work, as long as the lids (the part with the rubber seal) will fit. I've used salsa jars (the jars from the Walmart brand of salsa say "Mason jar" right on them), spaghetti sauce jars, mayonnaise jars, etc. I've also heard that you can re-use the lids, as long as you can get it to seal. I've not tried that, but will probably do so when I do my next batch. :-)

Claiming Our Space said...

Thanks so much for sharing on Tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you tomorrow.

Vicki said...

I have a question about the "wipe the rims" part....You mention wiping the rims AFTER heating. No risk of breaking the hot jars by wiping them with something damp? Would it work as well to wipe them after filling but before heating? Just curious before I crack a bunch of $2.00 jars. :)

Dana said...

I just wipe the rims with a dishcloth that I dipped in hot water. I've not had one crack so far. That's a good question though! I don't have the cloth dripping wet, just damp. There usually isn't anything on the rims, but you want to make sure there's nothing at all to prevent a seal. Let me know how it goes!


Anonymous said...

I just store 50+ lbs. in a big storage with gamma seal lid I bought way before Y2K. Why do you have to can. Mine stayed for years till I got the Y2K stored flour used up.

Dana said...

Hi, "Anonymous"!

The purpose of canning is to kill anything that could turn into a little bug. I use a lot of flour, but if I had it in a 50-pound container that I used it from, it would probably get something in it before I could use it up. It's really working for me so far. The only drawbacks have been that flour really needs to be sifted when you open the jar (I just dump it into the sifter from the jar and sift it into my canister), and I'm afraid one of my girls will accidentally break one of the glass jars. I'm paranoid--I know. :-)

Thanks for commenting!

Renton Bankruptcy Lawyer said...

I have canned in the oven for decades. I have never lost a jar of food by doing so.

Annaleigh Noble said...

You are simply removing the oxygen from the food; this is why it last longer. However, it is much easier cheaper and more efficient to use oxygen absorbers to remove oxygen from the jars. Perhaps the link below will help you out; the gentleman in the video is dry canning pancake mix, but this method works for any dry food product.

Dana said...


Thanks for sending the link. I've never used oxygen absorbers so I can't really comment on that part.

This works by heating the contents to a temp that kills all of the bacteria, and anything else living in there, before you cap it with a sterile lid.

I'll check in to the absorbers!


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Anonymous said...

I have a question
I have been oven canning flour, sugar, brown sugar all in canning jars. I understand the premise of doing this, as it keeps for 25 years, but the canning jars are heavy.
Is it possible, to place those items in the oven (flours, sugars, etc) and then once they are out of the oven and cooled, to place them in 2 liter bottles?
They are lighter weight. Would that work and cause them to still keep?

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Mindy said...

i started oven canning about a year ago and I love it! Ive done EVERYTHING flour, sugar, cornmeal, dry cereal, oatmeal, pasta, popcorn, dry milk, pecans and so much more. It definitely saves money in the long run with the prices of food going up.

Christina said...

The oven canning kills all larvae and any bacteria as well as dries out any moisture. The elderly lady I heard about it from said 2 hours at 200F.

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Elizabeth Pritchard said...

My oven does not go down to 200 degrees...what do you suggest?

Dana said...

I'm not sure! You might try it a jar or two on the lowest temp your oven offers and see what happens. It might take a little less time to get hot all the way through, but I couldn't guess at how long. Let me know if you give it a try!


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Anonymous said...

Ok sooooo, sill not clear on the sealing part. If the lid doesn't pop up how are you sure that it's sealed?