Why I LOATHE the "Oven Canning" Method

Dry Canning Jar Ah, yes..."oven canning"...Hate is such a strong word that I don't care to use much, but when it comes to the "oven canning" method that some choose to use to preserve their dry foods long-term, it definitely conjures up a strong opinion in me.  But I'll tone it down today and use the word "loathe" instead, because I truly do loathe the whole notion of oven canning.

 

Oven canning is the process of canning dry goods such as flour, beans, oats, and even nuts in a 200 degree oven. The standard instructions are to place items in glass canning jars, wet the rim of the lid a bit, place lid and ring on top, and then allow jars to remain in the oven for about an hour. The premise is that this is a way you can extend the life of dry goods even in a scenario in which you have no electricity (because you can “oven can” in a solar oven, or frankly, even in a car on a bright sunny day).  However, I have a REAL problem with this method, specifically for canning dry goods—for which the practice is commonly used.  I’d ONLY use this method if I had exhausted all other alternative options and I assure you, the loss of mainstream electricity would not be the prime motivating factor for using this method.  Now, I realize that there are a lot of folks who tout oven canning for dry goods, but I’m going to share with you today the key reasons why I think it’s a really bad idea.

 

For starters, the key enemies of successful long-term food preservation are heat, light, air, and creepy crawlies. So why in the world would you START the life of your food that you intend to have on a long-term basis with deliberate heat?? I was astounded to find that some people use this method to preserve nutsNuts? Those are expensive even when you get the best kind of sales, and they are so vulnerable to going rancid over time even in cooler storage conditions. An hour in the oven at 200 degrees has “FAUX PAS” written all over it! You’ve just reduced the standard shelf life of your expensive pecans to approximately 50% with such a choice. Sealing them in a vacuum seal bag and freezing them or vacuum sealing them in a Mason jar is a perfectly suited solution for nuts and ALL dry goods. And if you sprinkle a bit of food-grade diatomaceous earth in each of your containers you can prevent the proliferation of creepy crawlies too. (Don’t worry. It’s actually GOOD for you so there’s no problem mixing it in with your dry goods, and a little goes a long way. I use about 2 heaping tablespoons in each of my 5 gallon buckets of whole grains.

Brown rice is so challenging to store long term because of its Omega fats it contains. Exposing those fats to heat like this will actually cause the grains to go rancid by as much as 50 times faster than merely storing it in your cupboard in its original packaging!
 

Let’s also keep in mind that an hour to an hour and a half of heat exposure comes with a heavy price when it depletes valuable nutrients!  The oven canning method has the ability to convert what would otherwise be a valuable nutrient source into an empty calorie source when exposing some foods to this kind of process. I don’t have space in my inventory for many empty calorie resources.

 

200 Degree Oven Next, the suggested time frame of 200 degrees for an hour is intended to heat up the ingredients inside the jar, as well as the jar, in order to kill any germs and to cause a seal of the lid to the rim.  Well, that formula will vary greatly depending on the density of what you’re sealing. I’ve never yet seen an enthusiastic blog/story about oven canning that takes that into consideration. Some advocates of the oven canning method suggest that you can even use previously used canning lids for this method. That would only be the case if the lid isn’t bent in any way, AND there is sufficient rubber left on the lid to melt and form a seal on the rim of the jar. That’s a whole lot of guessing that I suspect most of us aren’t really equipped to accurately configure. (Algebra, Geometry, or Physics anyone?)

 

Even if we didn’t have the obvious problem of exposing perfectly good foods to heat in the first place, we still have the oxygen problem. The oven canning process does not actually EXPEL all of the oxygen from the jar like you would accomplish with vacuum sealing or pressure canning. Instead, you’re storing your dry goods amidst the oxygen that remains in the jars. Heating the contents plus the lids doesn’t solve the oxygen problem, whereas pressure canning or vacuum sealing does. The seal may be airtight when you’re finished with this method, but the oxygen is still inside.

 

When I pressure can, I specifically dry the rims of each jar before putting the lids on them. This method commonly encourages the wetting of the rim.  I see that as just asking for trouble. Again, moisture is one of the enemies of long-term shelf stability.

 

Food Grade Bucket There is no need to oven can items such as rice, whole grains, and beans! Why spend all of that time oven canning something that will keep perfectly fine in a properly sealed food-grade bucket or mylar bags? Plus, all of those jars??  I have a LOT of full canning jars, yes, but I’m not going to unnecessarily add to that number if I don’t have to. I’d much rather grab a 5 gallon bucket of whole grain in a hurry than 10 ½ gallon Mason jars, wouldn’t you? And what’s more likely to break—Mason Jars or my buckets? What’s more likely to rust—full canning jars or buckets? Which is more likely to survive an earthquake or flooding? Yep. I think you get the picture.  All you need with these kinds of dry goods is a good food-grade diatomaceous earth, a good seal on your lid (which you can get with gasketed lids or the gamma lids) and store the items in the standard conditions of cool (68 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler is ideal), dry, and dark environment. 

 

Let’s not forget the price of oven canning these dry ingredients vs preserving them in #10 cans, FoodSaver bags, mylar bags, or food-grade buckets.  Believe me, even when I get the jars at a yard sale or thrift store, the other options are still more friendly to my pocket book.

Granted, I am the most lazy prepper you’ll ever meet, so perhaps it’s the lazy woman in me that feels like I wouldn’t want to waste the time to do all that oven canning, but when there’s so many other, more viable options for properly preserving dry goods, why would you use the oven canning method? Using that much electricity and time to preserve the thousands of pounds of dry goods that I need to take care of my family for a whole year isn’t exactly attractive to me. The other methods are viable with or without electricity! For example, with the vacuum sealed method that I do with the FoodSaver, you can still get the same results by reversing the flow of a tire pump to extract the oxygen from a jar; there are still such things as Oxygen Absorbers; and there’s still the pressure canning method that is just fine over a fire or a wood cook stove.

 

Bottom line, I’m looking to protect my HUGE investment of my dry goods in the most practical, efficient manner with the least amount of risk to losing the food or compromising the nutritional value of the food. Oven canning simply does NOT meet that criterion.
 

There’s nothing worse than going through all of the trouble and expense of being prepared only to find, that the fruits of your labor are useless because you relied on imperfect methods. That moment of realization will turn a peaceful mood into a panicked, sick-to-the-stomach mood instead.  So let’s pass on the oven canning, friends, and ensure Peaceful Preparedness instead.

 

You might enjoy this short YouTube video demonstrating why I love the vacuum sealing method so much: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YaIBAjosYw&list=UUAaj2kthyvHCMgkm6PD_gcA...

 

To learn more about converting a tire pump into a vacuum, you might enjoy this video: http://youtu.be/wfVAwF5HGW0

Tags: 

© 2013 Of COURSE this post is Copyright Protected by Preparedness Pro. All Rights Reserved. NO portion of this article may be reposted, printed, copied, disbursed, etc. without first receiving written permission by the author. This content may be printed for personal use only. (Then again, laws are only as good as the people who keep them.) Preparedness Pro will pursue all violations of these rights just as vigorously as she does any of her other freedoms, liberties, and protections.


Comments

Recent research has pointed

Recent research has pointed out that diatomaceous earth used as part of a filtering system for beer & probably other things releases a carcinogen. A google search linking beer & diatomaceous earth will provide you with the details.
Also I wonder about including anything in my diet that is used to kill creepy crawlies.
I also have to ask why roasted nuts are such a popular food. I roast almonds at about 200 degrees simply to improve the taste.
In any case, I'm thankful for your articles on how to preserve food. So far I've been gifted with a new to me Foodsaver, but I may need to bite the bullet and order the extra part need to vacuum seal jars.

Sorry, but I'm going to call

Sorry, but I'm going to call absolute Hogwash on the DE issue.  BEER, though...yep BEER is a carcinogenic, not to mention a few other things. Dish soap can be used to kill insects too, but you won't see me without it in my kitchen. Also, IMO, a FoodSaver is a very expensive baggie machine without the vacuum sealer for jars.

I agree with you on

I agree with you on everything you said, except for 1 thing. There is one benefit that canning jars have over plastic buckets and mylar- a mouse can easily chew through the plastic and mylar, and I think that's a lot of the appeal of the glass jars for storing dry goods. I actually use mason jars in my cupboards for dry goods storage because of this. (Our cat is blind in one eye, and not the best hunter.) I store my bagged and sealed dry goods in metal containers, like aluminum trash cans, to keep the mice out.

LOL, if only! The husband has

LOL, if only! The husband has proclaimed us to be at maximum capacity for indoor animals, with 1 dog and 1 cat, and our house is around 150 years old with many mouse-sized points of entry, so no matter how aggressive I am, they are always a concern- it doesn't take long for them to do a whole lot of damage! The metal trash cans seem to do the trick for keeping them out of the food storage quite nicely, though. :)
(We have also adopted a semi-feral barn cat who seems to enjoy living on our property keeps the rodent population down outside, which definitely helps!)

I have heard of the Oven

I have heard of the Oven Canning method but had never even considered it because I didn't know that much about it. Did not have a good feeling about it and my regular canning methods and our Vacuum Sealer have worked just fine. Thank you for taking the time to explain. Not even an option now. :-)

Whoa ; I am so with you on

Whoa ; I am so with you on this one . I never heard of oven canning before although I do a lot of canning of meat and beans and such but that is pressure canning. I do dehydrate some foods and I store grains and dry goods in mylar bags inside buckets or other containers. I too have a problem with mice so everything I have in my cooking pantry is either in cans, or 1/2 gallon to gallon jars. I hate mice and rats I live in the country and we raise dogs so we cant do poison but I use the hound out of glue traps and I use peppermint oil which does seem to deter the rodents somewhat that is why I am trying to get it to grow all around my house even if it is invasive . Anyway I digress sorry ...I was positively appalled at the fact that someone would put their pecans and such in the oven for an hour, I too roast a small amount of nuts at a time to use in recipes or to eat right away but not til I am ready to use them otherwise they are in the freezer . Wow I really had never heard of this before but I can tell you this gal will not be using that method of preservation at least if I can get out of it!

In response to the comment,

In response to the comment, "Medicinal Quality" essential oil, rest assured there is no such thing in the United States as there is no regulation of essential oils to make these "grading systems".
This is a marketing ploy used by Multi level marketing companies in an attempt to fool you. This marketing terminology "therapeutic grade, ctpg, food grade" all marketing terms.
As an Aromatherapist and safety advocate, I'd advise you to seek an alternative resource. They are lying to you.
Resources for the above information can be found on NAHA's website. National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. The AIA website, Alliance of International Aromatherapists. Or a simple Google search.

Oven canning.
I'll admit, I've done it. For years. Oats & flour. However, this was before mylar bags, plastic buckets and vacuum sealers became mainstream and everyone could purchase them.
Your article is very informative and welcome!!

Please note that all

Please note that all descriptive words use in association with essential oils are NOT official designated terms such as "organic", "all natural" etc. which the U.S. uses--often fraudulently. As any aromatherapist knows, the medical industry in Europe uses essential oils for medical purposes and terms those types of essential oils as "medicinal quality" in their regular conversation as they know perfectly well that not all EOs are suitable for medical purposes. You are correct, there is no such designation in the U.S. however we do still use English and an EO that meets the concentrations, distillation, growing conditions, harvesting, and sourcing qualities as those which are used in European medical industry would accurately be described as "medicinal quality".

The only thing I question in

The only thing I question in this video is sealing the plastic ziplock bags of Panko prior to vacuum sealing the jar. To be clear, this is a mistake, you are actually trapping air in the bag!! You say to be sure to remove all of the air from the bag before sealing it, but you can't remove all of the air from the Panko by pressing it out. This is what the vacuum sealer is for.

If you watch the video closely, the ziplock bags expanded in the jar as the vacuum sealer was removing the air from the jar. What was causing the bag to expand? The air that was trapped inside the bag when the ziplock pouch was sealed. It's fine to separate the Panko into 1cup portions, just be sure NOT to seal the zip locks. When the jar is vacuum sealed this will allow ALL of the air in the ziplock bag to be removed.

The Panko in this video was still exposed to air that remained trapped in the bags. Think about it.

Edford, There are three

Edford, There are three things it sounds like you need to know. 1) plastic is porous. If it wasn't we wouldn't have the need to store items in glass. So putting the bread crumbs in plastic is done specifically with that knowledge and stratagem. 2) A small amount of oxygen isn't going to make or break anybody's efforts of preserving their products. 3) The seals on the sandwich bags are not foolproof--again, if they were, we wouldn't need the jars. They are not timeless, they lose their seal overtime. Even the FoodSaver bags come with a warning that they are only good for a certain period of time due to the fact that the seals can relent. Hopefully you'll find things that you can learn from on this site out of the 1,000+ articles written that will help you focus on that which really needs attention and that which we don't have to sweat.

Please tell me why

Please tell me why condensation was on the inside of every single 1/2 gallon ball jar that I dry canned today. I sterilized the jars and placed them in a 225 degree oven for 30 minutes. I allowed them to cool to room temperature before filling the jars with beans rice and lentils. I placed the opened jars back into the oven at 225 degrees for almost 2 hours. I removed them from the oven 2 at a time and quickly sealed with lid and ring. The jars sealed beautifully but as they cooled condensation was forming on the inside of the jars!!! OH noooo!!!
I unsealed the jars and placed them back into a 200 degree oven but I'm not sure for how long or if this will even work. I have a sad feeling that this will be total failure today.

I would imagine that

I would imagine that everything we eat has some moisture in it. I know dry beans do. I have had some get too dry and it took days to get them cooked soft enough to eat. I am not an expert on anything but that might be the problem. I will try dry canning some beans and see what happens. Also the directions I have read say 200 degrees oven temperature so could that be the problem?

Yes! I just oven canned 2 dz

Yes! I just oven canned 2 dz jars of pasta and chia seeds! (I had a good seal. ) But then I saw I had condensation inside when I took out of the oven. I was so disappointed and discouraged I left them in the kitchen and went up to bed! In the morning, the moisture was gone. I am thinking I just wasted alot of time, effort and $$!
What should I do???

I see the diatomaceous earth

I see the diatomaceous earth thing, mixing it with your food, now instead of throwing out a container of flour that has worms, you eat the dead larva after it crawled through the d earth and died. Great!! I have canned saltine crackers, and a year later they are just as nice as the day i bought them. I have a weakness for saltines, i also have dry canned cheerios, and Triscuit crackers, all preserve well, don't discount dry canningtil you try it.

I am with you curtiss, I love

I am with you curtiss, I love dry canning, and it works great for me too. I dry canned ritz crackers and took them out to try 3 years later! they were fabulous! I do not put the lid on my jars until after they have been in the oven for an hour. then I take them out 2 at a time put on the lids and back in the oven for 1/2 hr. I also was curious about white flour. So I did that also with dry canning. took a jar out 3 yrs. after....it made beautiful bread! It is important to tamp down the jar as you are filling them. I have not done any nuts this way...too much oil in them. Those I freeze. I recently opened a jar of Planters honey roasted peanuts that had been 3 yr. past the BB date and they were fine!

Question - can I use mylar

Question - can I use mylar bags for long term storage for items like Zatarains Red beans and rice - with the seasonings? wanting to do rice and beans, but if I could throw some of these in the mix, I think that would be a good way to mix it up a bit. Also, Jambalaya and pasta dishes from a box. Your thoughts? Thanks

I recently bought about 80

I recently bought about 80 quart sized canning jars on craig's list, only to discover during the transaction that about half of them were full. Most contained fruits, but there were also about 10 jars of oven-canned nuts of all types. I was amazed, but the man who sold them to me explained that his mom had canned them and he had just forgotten they were there. The dates on these jars were from 1997, making them almost 20 years old. I'll shorten the story and tell you that I very cautiously tested the safety and quality of every one of these jars and all were perfectly safe and though the textures were odd, the flavors were totally normal. The nuts canned by oven method were delicious and crunchy- I would never have known that they had been put away 20 years before. So I hope that offers encouragement to those who are considering oven canning for lengthening dry storage life for nuts! Also, I should mention that there were no adverse effects from eating them afterward, either.

I am very interested in oven

I am very interested in oven canning my flours and oatmeal. Since we shop at Costco, most everything comes in bulk. For just my hubbie and myself, it is sometimes quite alot The other issue is that I am gluten intolerant and have a lot of my glutenfree flours already in the fridge. I made the mistake of getting more than I needed from an online source and was wondering if it would be possible to somehow dry out those flours, and then oven canning them. I am corncerned about moisture in any of the refrigerated flours.

You could use a dehydrator

You could use a dehydrator with fruit leather mats and dry the flours out for a couple of hours that way or you could use the oven method I suppose. I've never heard of flours with too much moisture but perhaps that's because I don't work with gluten-free much at all.

Well reasoned article against

Well reasoned article against the widespread use of a mediocre preserving method. Loathing isn't quite as well reasoned.
Tried vacuum canning jars but it seems that FoodSaver sells US accessories in Canada and they don't work on SI jars.

I think one would have to be

I think one would have to be choosy with what you canned like this but if you think about it most things that are heat canned are cooked at a lot higher temperature than the 200 degrees for heat canning. I would prefer using my vacuum sealer but the parts I bought for sealing jars don't work no matter what I try. And the dealer support Isn't helpful either. If a person is concerned try heat caning at the temps you dehydrate the foods with. The vacuum seal bags get holes poked in them when I try to seal up dehydrated foods. If I could find bags that won't allow that I would do that too. I am going to try this especially when I have to open a #10 can of freeze dried food and can't use it all very fast.

Share your thoughts on the matter

Disclaimer

Please note that the name you use in the "Name" field above will be the name displayed on your comment.