Dry Pack Canning and Food Storage
What is Dry Pack Canning and How Do You Dry Pack Can?
It is simple and it is effective. Dry Pack Canning is a means of storing foods for significantly longer periods, and is one of the methods of choice for those who are seriously interested in food storage. The name, however, is significant. A dry pack canner will can items that contain little or no moisture. Examples of these types of foods would be powdered milk, sugar, rice, pasta and wheat. This certainly does not exhaust the list, but these are some of the items that work well with the canner, and, as a result, can often be stored for years longer than what might normally be expected. Storage time will vary, of course, depending upon the particular food type that you are storing.
Those interested in this type of food storage will need the food itself, containers in which to insert it, and a method of rendering those containers completely air tight. Typically that means the "tools of the trade" will include food grade cans, oxygen absorbers and a can sealer. The appropriate dried food is simply scooped or poured into its awaiting container, although not right to the brim for you will want to leave a little room for expansion. If the food is moister such as dehydrated apple slices or raisins you will want to leave a little more room. Then an oxygen absorber packet is placed in with the food. Following that, the now filled can is taken over to the awaiting dry pack canner. The can is placed upon the can sealer, a lid is placed upon the can, and then the sealing is done. It is a quick and easy process. A number of can sizes are available, but for food storage it is most common to use number ten size cans, which are fairly inexpensive to purchase. These cans, it should be pointed out, are not reusable unless you wish to go to the expense of purchasing some sort of a reflanging attachment. These attachments, however, are normally fairly expensive and they only permit the reuse of that can three or four times more at best.
Truth be told, the dry pack canner is also quite costly. Though we at Store-It Foods do sell the equipment, we recommend it only to those who are truly quite serious about their food storage program. Because of the cost, some might consider a communal purchase of some sort. Perhaps a group of families or a local organization might wish to combine resources to purchase one machine to be shared. This, in fact, is often done.
Borrowing is another possibility. The LDS Church, which is a strong advocate of home storage, actually has home storage centers where those living nearby, members and non-members alike, might go to make use of the available equipment. Several other churches might also have them available to use or to borrow. You may simply call your local food ministry and see if they know of any that are available in your area. Of course, this is not always going to be convenient or even possible, so the option of doing your own purchasing might be worth some serious consideration.
In any case, once you have gone the dry pack route, despite the longevity you have added to your storage you should still keep up the practice of food rotation. That simply makes sense nutritionally.
You can also use your vacuum sealer to extend the storage life of dried foods. For large quantities of food, though, use of cans and that can sealer is a more efficient route to go. This method of dry pack canning is also more effective in keeping rodents and insects out of your food storage. It needs to be reemphasized, however, that this method of food storage is not suitable for all foods. It is, for instance, actually unsafe to dry pack items that need pressure or heated canning such as fresh fruits and vegetables. These items require the heat incorporated in pressure or water bath canning to prevent the growth of botulism and other toxins. Also, avoid foods that are high in oil or fat content. Even the oxygen absorber packets cannot prevent such foods from spoiling.
In short, dry pack canning is generally only for dry goods.