A couple of days ago, a friend dropped by and I was busy canning crackers. Say what? That was exactly her reaction. They had a big sale on Premium Saltines and I stocked up. Before I share with you the easy method for preserving food this way, let me introduce to you how and why I know such things.
As long as I can remember, I have been preserving and raising food. As a child, I spent long hours with my mother and grandmother picking, snapping and canning beans and lots of other things too. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have been taught that is both frugal and provident to store and preserve food, water and other commodities for times of trial.
All my life, I have been on a budget so I am always on the outlook for a bargain. We have a big freezer that is filled with wild game and other meats, vegetables and fruits we have either raised ourselves or bought at a bargain price and an enormous pantry (well, it's actually a walk-in closet and half of a bedroom) filled with foodstuffs and other necessities.
Over the next weeks, months and years (God willing) I will share some of my techniques and hints. I will also post pictures along the way.
Now back to the story that started this blog. My friend was amazed at my wisdom and knowledge (and that amazed me) and was fascinated by all that I have stockpiled for my family. Dry pack canning is the method I used for the crackers. Living in the Heart of Dixie has it's perks, but heat and humidity are not among them and items like crackers have a very brief shelf life in this climate.
My first experience with dry packing in my oven was when I found oyster crackers on sale a few years ago. We opened up the first jar about a year later and they were as crispy and crunchy as if I had just opened the bag.
You can also preserve any other type of cracker and most cookies using this method. Other food items that dry pack well include: pasta, grits, cereals and other grains, beans (except for pinto beans and I don't know why that is), rice, popcorn, cornmeal, flour, instant potatoes, powdered milk, and many more items. You can also use Macaroni & Cheese, Hamburger Helper, Rice-A-Roni, etc. by putting the pasta or grain in first, placing the seasoning packet on top and also include the directions.
Now here is how easy it is. Fill clean canning jars with the food. Place the lid on top but do NOT tighten it. Place in a cold oven and do NOT let the jars touch. Use the middle rack if possible. Set the oven to 225° F. and use the following time table:
Start timing when the oven reaches the desired temperature.
Pints - 20 minutes
Quarts - 30 minutes
Half Gallons - 45 minutes
Tighten the lid on each jar, being careful not to get burned, and set on a towel to cool. The shelf life of these items is about 10 years if stored in a cool, dry place.
Over the next few weeks, months and maybe years, I will be adding other tips and photos.