Tennesseetransitions


Resilience with Oven Canning?
February 10, 2014, 10:23 PM
Filed under: Alternative Energy, Canning, Food Storage, Oven canning, Resilience | Tags: ,

I canned my first jars of green beans when I was 21 years old. Forty years and thousands of jars later, I’ve never poisoned anyone with the foods I’ve put by. I attribute that to the fact that I am a complete NAZI about always, always, always using the safest approved methods for canning fresh foods. Cutting corners during canning is like cutting your own throat. Now, all that said, I want to introduce you to a ‘new’ method of canning I tried recently. It is NOT an extension approved method, but I was so intrigued with the idea I had to at least try it. You can google ‘oven canning’ and find ten sources for it and ten against it. It’s not meant to be used for wet foods, or those with fats in them, only for dry goods.

I like to buy foods in bulk because when I do, I’m supporting a small, locally owned business, packaging is greatly reduced, and because it’s usually more cost efficient to do so, both in terms of price per unit and in terms of environmental impact. The only con is having to store the stuff. I often store bulk items in five gallon food grade buckets, plastic lined tins, or gallon sized jars. My thinking is that by sealing some of those dry goods in smaller containers, (including the bags and boxes of  ‘regular sized’ products that I open) I can store them more easily on my pantry shelves and that those sealed jars will be far better at keeping oxygen, moisture and bugs out of the pantry, which are the big threats to any food. Please understand, I’m not depending on this method to make the food safe to eat later, I’m just hoping it will keep the already safe foods that I do keep in my pantry, fresh longer. That’s a big difference from canning fresh foods! This method is being touted as being able to keep food fresh for 10-20 years, but my plans are simply for 1-2 years, just like with my regular canned goods.

This method was just as easy as it looks. I sterilized and dried two dozen jars, set them upright on rimmed cookie sheets, and then filled the jars, leaving 1/2″ headroom. Putting them on cookie sheets keeps them stable while in the oven, catches any spills, and if breakage were to occur, would make it lots easier to clean up. I then placed the cookie sheets with the filled jars in a preheated 200 degree oven for one hour. Just before the hour was up, I simmered my lids and rings in a saucepan of water to sterilize them and to soften the rubber seals. After reading this tip online (and you know, if you read it on the internet it MUST be true 😉 ) I sterilized some USED lids that I had saved for a craft project and screwed them down tight with the rings, returning the jars to the oven for another half hour. I let everything cool there overnight, and this morning, voila! All but one jar had sealed, even though I’d used the recycled lids. I love being able to see at a glance what I’ve got stored in the jars! Now I’m planning to use some half-gallon canning jars that were given to me but that were too tall for my canner, to oven-can some whole grain flours, dog biscuits and the freshly ground grits and corn meal that I buy at the Farmer’s Market.

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The news is full of dire weather and climate change forecasts, predictions of food and energy shortages due to the prolonged drought in our western states, and rising prices because of it all. I’m certain our futures will be lived under dramatically changed circumstances and resilience is the key to improving our quality of life, regardless of all that. Using resources I already have on hand to keep food fresher longer (I’d LOVE to get away from a freezer altogether!) is just another form of resilience. And that’s awesome. Next up this summer: using this same technique in my solar oven!

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8 Comments so far
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That is very interesting and you gave good directions. And it worked!

Comment by sarasinart

Fantabulous! I do so love seeing a lower-effort method that works, even for something so important as storage of bulk items. I’ve got roughly 2 billion jars in the basement I need to evaluate, and this might just be the use for which they are destined! (they’re older jars, so I can’t use them for actual canning, sadly) Thanks for sharing your experiment!

Comment by insecurehobbit

Why can’t you use the old canning jars for canning? Some of mine must be 40 or 50 years old, but I’ve not had any trouble with them. Glad you can use this method too. Hope it helps with long term food storage too.

Comment by simpleintn

They require the seals I can’t find anymore. 🙂

Comment by insecurehobbit

I’m commenting here on your post about the state of the union and Pete Seeger. I figured you were more likely to see it here. I loved your post! I loved the actions you talked about taking. I wrote a post about PS and Keystone. I also sent it to our newspaper and it was printed next to a letter by a guy calling the people at our vigil a bunch of hypocrites because we weren’t naked and starving. But we keep trying. Best of luck in your efforts.

http://escleali.blogspot.com/2014/02/turn-turn-turn-tribute-to-pete-seeger.html

Comment by Andrea

I really enjoyed your post too Andrea. And now, I have to ask… what church do you go to? Inquiring minds wanna know. Actually, I bet I already know. Does it start with a U and end with a U?

Comment by simpleintn

You are absolutely correct. I ended up going to that church when I moved to a new place in my 40s. I had never gone to a church or temple consistently before. I actually got hooked in because I wanted to join the bell choir. Now I’m the bell choir director.

Comment by Andrea

I knew it as soon as you said Pete Seeger’s music was playing in the sanctuary! Same here at Holston Valley UU Church in NE TN. Hope we’ll get to meet some day!

Comment by simpleintn




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