Saturday, November 27, 2010
Dry Pack Canning at Home: A Tutorial
I posted this information when I first started this blog but have had a couple of request to post it again along with answering some questions that I have been asked about the Mylar bags, oxygen absorbers and other miscellaneous information. I’ll try to answer those questions and explain the method and reasoning behind dry pack canning.
A board to iron on – mine is ¾” thick plywood measuring 10x18” but any piece of wood or wooden surface will work.
Purchase the bags and oxygen absorbers at any food storage supplier or from your local home storage center. They are pretty inexpensive. I believe the bags are 35¢ each and the oxygen absorbers are about 8¢ each. Figuring that I cut the bags in half or sometimes in fourths, they are pretty inexpensive in the long run.
First, decide on how large of quantities you want to can. Most things that I will use up quickly when I open them, I can about a quart or so at a time. That is about the right amount for a half-size bag. So, measure from side to side of a bag with the opening at the top. Cut in half lengthwise. If you want to can a smaller portion, cut bags evenly in fourths. Leaving the top edge open for filling, iron (medium hot iron – no steam) remaining edges closed using about a ½” seam all around. For a half size bag iron only the long edge and for a fourth size bag iron 2 sides, leaving an opening to fill.
Put food in bags, filling evenly and shaking bag slightly to let food settle into the bag well. Add oxygen absorber, sliding it down into the food so that it will not be in the way of the iron when you iron the bag closed. Lay bag flat on your wood, press excess air from bag and make sure no food is in the top where you will iron. Press iron across top of bag to seal properly, making sure there are no gaps in the seal. It only takes a few seconds to see the bag.
Label each bag as you seal it with the food, date, amount if you wish and any special instructions you want to include. I like to use the labels that I can print out on my computer because they are quick to use and I can add any information I want, such as how to reconstitute the food. You can however just use a permanent marker if you like or if you are canning a large quantity of similar items, label the box or tote you plan to store them in.
Why dry pack canning at home?
A friend asked me why don’t you just take what you want canned to the cannery and do it there? There are several reasons I like doing it at home and here they are:
1) I live about 70 miles one-way from a cannery. It is expensive and necessitates loading up all my food and hauling it to the cannery to dry pack. Not to mention the cost of gas and the fact that it would most likely take a whole day to drive there, do the canning and drive home. Besides lugging everything to and from the car several times.
2) I like being able to dry pack a little or a lot depending on what I have to can. Sometimes I spend several hours catching up on my dry packing and other days I can do what I need to in 15 minutes.
3) I’m more likely to stock up on bulk items and dry pack some when I know it won’t mean an extra trip to the cannery and I can do as little as a cup if I want to.
4) I really like being able to dry pack ingredients for an individual meal and have it on my shelf for when I need it.
Why Mylar bags instead of #10 cans?
I like the cans I really do. They are great and every time I go to the cannery to purchase the Mylar bags, the people there always try to talk me out of it, saying the cans are much better. I realize the cans are great for large quantities and they are insect proof. The Mylar bags have their advantages too. I can dry pack a cup of wheat germ or coconut or whatever without having to fill a can. And, best of all, the Mylar bags are reusable. If you cut just the top off and use the ingredients, you can refill them, add another oxygen absorber and seal them again for more time. The bags are harder to store but if you put them in a Rubbermaid tote or a metal garbage can, that works as a great storage bin.
Advantages of dry packing at home:
If you have a vacuum sealer, that is great. This method uses oxygen absorbers and is meant for longer term storage. If you are doing large quantities of beans, rice or whatever, your best bet may be a dry pack canner. If however, you are like me and dry your own produce and want it to be canned properly, this is a great way to do it.
I love shopping the bulk section of Winco and picking up a little of this or that along the way. Some of these items I won’t store much of, or some things I will store in smaller quantities so I don’t have the disadvantage of having food spoil because I can’t use a full #10 can quickly. However, the large cans I already have on my shelf can now be divided into Mylar bags and resealed into smaller portions once I open them.
I mentioned dry packing meals in the Mylar bags. I have several recipes for soups or sauces that call for dry ingredients that I can now have all assembled and just add liquid or fresh ingredients when I make them up. And a list of the remaining ingredients can be printed on the bag so I don’t have to search for a recipe later.
Below are some recipes for meals you can make and dry pack in mylar bags for quick meal additions to your food storage.
Black Bean Soup
1 lb. dried black beans (2 c.)
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. dried thyme leaves
1/4 c. dried onions
1 bay leaf
1 t. cumin powder
4 beef bouillon cubes
2 – 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
Put beans in Mylar bag. Put remaining ingredients in a Ziploc bag inside the Mylar bag.
Directions: Wash, sort and soak beans in water overnight. Drain beans and place in large stockpot, add soup seasoning mix and 8 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook partially covered for two hours. Add tomato sauce and heat through. Season to taste with salt & pepper. If desired, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and grated cheese. Sprinkle with fresh green onions if desired. Sprinkle with fresh lime juice or hot sauce in individual bowls if desired.
Vegetable Soup Mix
In a blender combine the following dried vegetables: tomatoes, celery, onion, zucchini, peas, broccoli and carrots, and blend to a powder (enough to equal 1/3 cup).
1 T. cracked wheat
1/4 t. dried parsley
Pinch garlic powder
1 T. fine noodles or instant rice
1/4 t. dried sweet basil
Pinch onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Dry pack ingredients in a quarter size Mylar bag and seal. Directions: Add mixture to 2 cups boiling water. Allow to set covered for 5-6 minutes. Serves 1.
Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup Mix
1/2 c. barley
1/2 c. dried split peas
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 c. dried carrots
3 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 c. dried onions
1/4 c. dried celery dices (can substitute with fresh)
7 c. water
1 – 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, any flavor
3 stalks celery, diced if not using dried
Dry pack all dry ingredients in Mylar bag, seal and label. Directions for making soup: In large pot, bring water to a boil; add additional ingredients and bring to boil. Simmer for 1½-2 hours or until tender. Add meat of your choice if desired.
Curry Soup Mix
2 c. uncooked rice
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
2 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. dill weed
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. dried onions
1 T. curry powder
2 t. paprika
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground cardamon Put rice in Mylar bag. Combine nuts and raisins in Ziploc bag and put in with rice. Combine remaining ingredients in another Ziploc bag and put in Mylar bag; seal. Directions for soup: put 10 cups water in crock pot or large pot. Add soup mix. cook on medium heat until rice is done. May add 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or canned chicken.
Friendship Soup Mix
½ c. dry split peas
¼ c. pearl barley
¼ c. dried onion
½ c. uncooked long grain rice
½ c. alphabet macaroni or other small macaroni
1/3 c. beef bouillon granules
½ c. dry lentils
2 t. Italian seasoning
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 lb. browned hamburger or canned hamburger
1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce
Put macaroni in a Ziploc bag. Put remaining ingredients in Mylar bag; add baggie with macaroni and seal. Directions for soup: Add all of the mix except for the macaroni plus 1 (28 oz) can of tomatoes in 3 quarts water. Add browned hamburger, browned with pepper and garlic. Cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add macaroni; cover and simmer for another 20 minutes or until macaroni, peas, lentils and barley are tender. *Note: this is also good with a small can of ham shredded in place of the ground beef.
Minestrone Soup Mix
¼ c. dried split peas
4 beef bouillon cubes
1 t. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 ½ t. salt
½ c. dried kidney beans, sorted
¼ c. dried celery (or use fresh)
½ c. dried carrots
¼ c. dried onions
1 t. dried parsley
½ t. ground pepper
1 c. elbow macaroni
1 lb. Italian sausage (optional)
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
Put kidney beans in a small baggie. Put macaroni in a small bag. Combine bouillon, basil, oregano, salt, parsley and pepper in a small baggie. Put peas, celery, carrots and onions in Mylar bag. Add bags with macaroni, kidney beans and spices to Mylar bag; seal and label. Directions for soup: Wash and soak beans overnight. In a large stockpot bring 9 c. water to a boil. Add beans, veggies and spices from Mylar bag. If desired add 1 lb. Italian sausage, 2 stalks celery (if not using dry celery), and 1 28-oz can tomatoes; simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add elbow macaroni and simmer for 30 minutes, until beans are tender.
Rainbow Bean Soup
½ c. (or more) of each of the following dried beans:
great northern beans
Dried peas or yellow split peas
1 T. dried onion
1 T. beef bouillon granules
1 T. dried parsley flakes
1 t. dried basil
1 t. powdered lemonade mix with sugar
3/4 t. chili powder
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. oregano
Add-Ons: 1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
Meat of your choice, if desired
Put all dried sorted beans except split peas and lentils, into Mylar bag. Put lentils and split peas into a baggie and put into Mylar bag. Put remaining spices and flavoring into a small baggie and put in Mylar bag; seal Mylar bag and label. Directions for making soup: soak beans overnight, rinse and add them to 4 cups of water. Bring to boil, lower heat; cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add 1can of tomatoes, the split peas and lentils and seasonings. Simmer another 45 minutes to 1 hour until tender, stirring occasionally. Y: 12 cups of soup. *Note: Ground beef, shredded ham or diced cooked chicken may be added to this soup.
¼ c. dried minced onion
½ t. dried minced garlic (optional)
1 T. chili powder
1 T. taco seasoning mix
¼ c. dry ranch dressing mix
½ c. dried corn
1 T. dried chopped bell peppers
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1 c. dried, sorted beans (kidney beans or black beans)
1 lb. hamburger, cooked or use canned beef
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomatoes
¼ c. salsa (optional)
1 ¾ c. water
In a Mylar bag put beans in a baggie. Put onion, garlic, seasonings, corn, and peppers in another jar and put in Mylar bag, add oxygen absorber and seal; add Label. Directions for soup: Remove beans from bag. Soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Simmer beans in 6 c. water, covered, for 2 hours. (Can cook beans in advance.) In a large pot bring to a boil 4 c. water; add cooked beans and seasoning packet into pot. Turn off heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Return to a simmer, continue simmering adding tomatoes and soup and hamburger. Keep covered and simmer and additional 15-20 , minutes until beans and corn are tender. Line bowls with tortilla chips, fill with soup and top with desired toppings.
Alfredo Noodle mix
1/3 c. instant nonfat dry milk
1 t. grated Romano or parmesan cheese
2 T. dried minced onion
¼ t. garlic powder
¼ t. salt
1/8 t. white pepper or black pepper
Measure all ingredients into a Ziploc bag, seal and shake to combine. In a Mylar bag, put 1 ½ c. uncooked noodles or medium size pasta shells and seasoning baggie; seal and label bag. To use, cook pasta in boiling salted water. Combine sauce mix with 4 T. melted butter and ½ c. milk. Toss with cooked pasta and heat through.
Beef Noodle Dinner Mix
1 cup dry non-fat milk
1 T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder
1 t. Black pepper
1 t. salt
1/4 t. basil
1/4 t. oregano
1 t. Paprika
1/8 tsp Cayenne
4 T. Brown Gravy Mix
1/4 t. ground celery seed
2 T. Cornstarch
Measure all ingredients into a large Ziploc bag, seal and shake until well combined. Y: about 26 T. mix
Beef Noodle Dinner
1- 12 oz. package egg noodles
1 ½ lb. of lean ground beef
7 ½ T. Beef Noodle Seasoning Mix
1 can mushroom stem and pieces, drained
6 ½ c. water
Brown hamburger & Drain. Add mushrooms & hot water. Stir in the seasoning mix. Add noodles and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, cook 15-17 minutes. Remove lid and let gently simmer until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. *This dinner can also be dry packed in Mylar bags. Divide sauce mix between 3 baggies and pack in 3 Mylar bags with dry egg noodles and spice baggie in each.