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Oven Canning for Long Term Storage

Dried goods make great emergency food if stored properly. Here is a great way to hermetically seal smaller quantities of dried food for long term food storage.

Dried goods make great emergency food if stored properly. Here is a great way to hermetically seal smaller quantities of dried food for long term food storage.

Fill mason jars with dried goods for oven canning. Leave 1/2″ of headspace.

Oven Canning Dried Goods For Long Term Storage

Dried goods make great emergency food if stored properly. But it’s no fun opening a box of pancake mix to find mealworms making a meal of your precious food (unless you like the extra protein). You can stock up on survival foods specially prepared to last for years, but it can get pretty pricey. If you want to save some dough and do it yourself, oven canning is the way to go. So let’s get started on this simple and easy method of prepping your dried goods for long term storage.

Oven Canning

Oven canning works great for prepping dried goods to stay fresh for years. Baking them in the oven kills any insects or eggs to prevent contamination. As the jars cool, the lids will seal, preventing moisture or bugs from getting in and ruining your food. I haven’t kept any of my oven canned goods long enough to test this, but some sites report that oven canned dry goods will last for 20 to 30 years. Heck, that’s a pretty good time frame for those prepping for TEOTWAWKI!

You’ll need just a few things to get started:

  • Canning jars
  • Canning lids and screw bands
  • Wide mouth funnel
  • Dried goods
  • Oven
  • Potholders and towels

Half gallon and quart jars are a great size for most foods, but you can use pint jars if you’re preserving food for just one person. You can also use a ½ pint or smaller jars to oven can small amounts of spices, baking powder, etc. Foods that can be preserved with this method include:

  • White rice, oats, and other grains
  • Beans and lentils
  • Flour
  • Baking Mixes
  • Spices, salt, baking soda, etc.

Before you oven can baking mixes, you’ll want to make sure that they don’t contain shortening (will melt), oil, brown sugar, or any other ingredients that have moisture in them, or they will go rancid quickly. Some of these foods may be stored in an airtight container short term (6 weeks at room temp is typical) but will not make good long term storage foods for your prepping pantry. It’s also fine to oven can baking mixes that contain sugar or powdered milk, but they should not be oven canned on their own.

Oven canning kills insects and seals jars to keep out moisture.

Oven canning kills insects and seals jars to keep out moisture.

How To Oven Can Dry Goods

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fill your clean canning jars with dried goods (leave 1/2″ head space)
  • Do not put lids on yet
  • Place in oven and set the timer for 1 hour
  • Use pot holders or towel to remove jars from the oven
  • Quickly wipe the rim of the jar with a damp (not dripping wet) towel
  • Place metal canning lid on the jar
  • Screw metal band on tightly
  • Return jars to oven and set timer for 30 minutes
  • Remove jars from the oven and allow to cool
  • Check lids for a tight seal

Please be advised that the Tattler reusable canning lids are not recommended for oven canning. This is one food preservation technique were I will re-use my metal canning lids from previously canned goods. Since you aren’t canning perishable foods, such as meats and veggies, you may re-use the metal lids as long as they are in good condition, are not bent, and all of the rubber is intact. Be sure to test for a tight seal after jars cool. If the jars didn’t seal, you can either use that food up first or use a new lid and reprocess.

*Oven canning is not a safe method of preserving anything other than dried goods. Do not use this method for canning wet foods such as fruits, vegetables, or meats unless they have been thoroughly dehydrated. For more info on canning, check out Mason Jar Meals and Canning Without Electricity.

Be sure to label your jars with the contents, date canned, and how to prepare.

Be sure to label your jars with the contents and date canned.

Storing Oven Canned Foods

Once your jars of dried goods have cooled, and you’re sure they sealed, store them in a cool, dark, and dry location. The seal will prevent moisture from getting into the jars, but moist air will rust metal canning lids and bands. Be sure to label jars with the contents and date that they were canned so you can use the oldest foods first. Add a label with directions for using mixes. Powdered milk and baking mixes that contain powdered milk should be used within a year for best results.

Tips and Tricks

Whole grains store better than grains that have been ground into meal or flour. For foods that will last the longest in storage, the oven can wheat berries, white rice, whole oats, barley, and rye. It’s great having a generous supply of these foods on hand, but you’ll want a hand-powered grain mill to grind them if you want to make flour.

Make your own baking mixes with bulk foods that you can purchase through food co-ops. Making your own will save a ton of money and allow you to stock up on food preps that much faster. Mix up large batches, the oven can then label with the baking instructions for easy use.

Make Ahead Mixes

Here are some baking mixes that I like to have on hand. You can multiply the ingredients if you wish to make up even larger batches.

Instant Cinnamon and Sugar Oatmeal

  • 5 cups quick oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered milk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container. To use: Add ½ to ¾ cup boiling water to 1 cup mix. Stir and let stand until thick.

Pancake Mix

  • 8 cups flour (I used half unbleached and half whole wheat or multigrain flour)
  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  •  4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup sugar

Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container. To use: Stir together 1 ½ cups mix, 1 cup water, and 1 egg. Pour batter by large spoonfuls on hot, oiled griddle. Flip to cook both sides.

Biscuit Mix

  • 10 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup baking powder
  • ¼ cup sugar

Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container. To use: Cut 1/4 cup shortening, butter, or lard into 1 cup mix. Add 1/2 cup milk or water and stir. Drop by spoonfuls on to cookie sheets and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes.

*Notes – Most biscuit mixes call for shortening to be added to the mix. To add shortening to above mix, cut 2 cups shortening into dry ingredients and store in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks at room temperature, or up to 6 months in the freezer. Do not add shortening to mix for long term storage as it may go rancid.

For long term storage of pancake mix and instant oatmeal mix, leave out powdered milk and use milk or water when using.

So What Are You Waiting For?

Save money and take control of the ingredients in your baking mixes by making your own. Make extra to seal in mason jars with the oven canning technique and you’ll be on your way to a well-stocked pantry in no time. Start ordering whole grains in bulk to oven can for long term storage. Many of these foods will last for years if properly sealed. It doesn’t take long to do and you’ll love the peace of mind that comes with stocking up for the future!

Note: Many people have written to me wondering why I would choose this canning technique over vacuum sealing. Actually, I use both methods and like them for different reasons. But using a vacuum sealer requires electricity…a resource that you are unlikely to have in the case of a real SHTF scenario. Oven canning may be done with the use of a wood cook stove that has an oven feature, requiring no electricity. Oven canning is also a method of dry food preservation that doesn’t require the purchase of equipment that may be out of the budget for folks who are prepping on a dime.

Comments about carrying glass containers around or living in earthquake-prone areas provide great information for some scenarios. I agree completely that you will not want to carry a dozen jars of canned goods in your bug out bag…I’m sharing this information for folks who wish to use this technique now or in a stable bug out location. Earthquakes are somewhat regional and in my area, they are not the major concern.

So if you don’t think that this technique will work for you in your area or situation, you are most likely correct! I am offering this information as one more method that might allow you to stock up for emergencies or survive in certain conditions. You may not be able to prepare for everything…but it sure helps to have many different techniques of food preservation at your disposal!

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on February 9th, 2014