Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dry Pack Canning Tutorial

Don't let the words "dry pack canning" scare you!  All that dry pack canning is, is "the process used to store foods that have less than 10% moisture and are low in oil content" and the process is SO SO simple!  Almost as easy as filling a jar and putting on a lid!  No cooking even required!

I store all kinds of varieties of beans in #10 cans.  Dry beans are so EASY and CHEAP and HEALTHY to cook with!  I have several recipes that use beans found HERE.  You can easily replace store-bought canned beans in any recipe with dry beans.   You just cook them before using them in your recipe. To cook them, I place the desired amount of beans in a crock-pot and triple the amount of water.  Then I cook them on high for about 5-6 hours or until tender.  I've found that 1/2 cup of dry beans yields about a 15-oz can of canned beans once they are cooked.

Okay, back to the canning...

I was making chili the other day and realized I didn't have any chili beans (also known as small red beans) for my recipe.  So I bought a big 25 lb. bag (mine is from WinCo in their bulk section) then only used 1 1/2 cups of beans for my recipe. 

So the rest of the bag was placed in #10 cans and sealed up for later use!  Here's how I did it...

The LDS church has several Home Storage Center locations.  Find a Home Storage Center near you HERE.  

They rent out these big and pretty heavy (but SO easy to use!) canners:
Now, you don't have to be a member of the church to borrow one, but they may ask you your ward and stake.  If you aren't a member, no biggie.  You will at least need to leave your name and phone number and commit to returning it on a specified date.

While you are at the Home Storage Center, you'll want to buy enough #10 cans, metal lids and at least 1 plastic lid for whatever you will be canning:

For 25 lbs. of small red beans, I needed 4 #10 cans, 4 metal lids, 4 oxygen absorbers and 1 plastic lid (which all cost me under $5.00 at the Home Storage Center).  I did have about 1/2 can of beans left over so I just used an old #10 can to store the rest of them in but any other container would work.

Fill the cans so there is 1/4 inch space to the top.  I'll be honest, I just guessed and filled them pretty full.  Then I placed the oxygen absorbers on the top.  Here's where you have to work quickly.  Once the oxygen absorbers are opened from their clear plastic pouch, they need to be sealed in the can within 30 minutes.

The machine even has some canning tips on it as well:

Place the metal lids on top:

Setting up the machine up is easy (make sure to do this before you open up those oxygen packets!):

Set the machine on any flat surface (I used the kitchen table) and plug it in.  The counter would work if there is enough overhang underneath so you can secure it with the provided clamps:

This lever just needs to be inserted so it pops out:

Then just follow the instructions located on the top of the machine:

Lower the base handle:
(this is in raised position)

(this is in lowered position)

Place your prepared #10 can on the base and raise the handle:

Press the motor switch and hold it.  This will cause the can to rotate.  And believe it or not, this is incredibly quiet so it can all be done during nap time!!

While holding the motor switch with your left hand, you'll be operating the lever with your right.  Push the lever away from you for 3 rotations (I like to count the seam on the can as it circles 3 times) then pull the lever toward you for 3 rotations.  I usually do 4 or 5 of each just to make sure I did it right but I'm sure it's unnecessary.

And your sealed can lids will now look like this:
Check your seams to make sure it's all sealed.

Then I have a GORGEOUS labeling system - ha!  I just use masking tape and a Sharpie to write on the side of the can.  I prefer the side over the lid because I can see what's in each can when it's on the shelf.  But writing on the lid works too.  I don't write directly on the can because I like to re-use these when they are eventually empty.

And there you have it (I did write the date on the lids but after I snapped this picture!:

The plastic lid is for the one can that is open.
I learned this the hard way...the plastic lid will only fit on cans that have been canned (had the metal lid sealed to it).  So, if you want to buy a bunch of cans to use for storage and not to seal, make sure you seal the empty can anyway, then use a can opener so the plastic lid will fit!

Then place all those cans in your food storage!

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