The concept of canning has been around for a couple of centuries now, and many have used it to preserve different types of food. However, although dry canning was initially a popular preservation method, the realities of dry canning are now coming to light.
Dry canning is not safe. Since bacteria respond poorly to the dry canning process, foods that have been preserved in this manner could potentially make you very ill. It’s essential only to use canning procedures that have been fully endorsed by the scientific community.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss what dry canning is and go through the reasons why dry canning is not considered a safe practice. I’ll also provide you with some alternatives that are available for correct food preservation.
What Is Dry Canning?
When looking for ways to preserve your food, whether it be for survival or to prepare for a snowy winter, canning might seem like a great idea. Pressure canning is generally an accepted way to conserve foodstuffs and has been endorsed by the FDA, but dry canning is a little different.
Dry canning is a process of food conservation that uses dry heat in an unpressurized environment to keep food from going bad. Food is ‘dried’ and then sealed into a jar to prevent air from escaping in a dry container.
Dry canning may seem like a great idea, but since there is no liquid involved in the canning procedure, it’s actually not a safe practice.
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Why Is Dry Canning Unsafe?
Dry canning is unsafe for a variety of reasons, including the fact that food doesn’t last very long under these conditions. Additionally, the jars traditionally used for dry canning are susceptible to cracks under high heat, potentially damaging the contents within.
Dry Canning Can Lead to Mold Growth
Once the jar cools down, the contents within release condensation, which is then trapped inside the jar. This condensation can cause mold buildup within the jar. This means there is a considerable risk of colorful mold growing on the food, which is the most potent and dangerous form of mold.
This mold will only continue to grow the longer it is sealed within the jar, which means your food has been contaminated and is no longer safe to eat.
Dry Canning Is Not Approved By Scientific Organizations
Additionally, any kind of food preservation should be subject to inspection and scientific testing by the relevant authorities. In this case, since the FDA and the Agricultural Center at the University of Wisconsin (among others) claim that dry canning is unsafe, it’s probably not safe to try at home.
Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture claims that the most significant risk associated with dry canning is low acid products could cause botulism.
There are currently no legitimate scientific organizations that condone dry canning. This means you should avoid dry canning at all costs and find another alternative to conserve your foodstuffs.
What Is Botulism?
Botulism is a potentially deadly sickness that is caused by bacterial spores. It can cause respiratory distress and is toxic enough that it could kill you.
Any foods that have been incorrectly preserved could produce the bacteria that cause botulism. In addition, you might not be able to tell whether your dry canned foods have produced this toxin, making it even more likely that you’ll become ill.
Alternatives To Dry Canning
Now that you know that dry canning is a no-go, you’ll need to find an alternative method of food preservation that works for you.
These are the primary alternatives to canning:
Below I will discuss each of these preservation methods. Read on to learn more about which one is right for you.
Freezing isn’t the best option for you if you don’t have reliable and consistent refrigeration. Additionally, if you’re conserving foods for survival, this may not be the best method. However, if you happen to have solar power or a similar electrical supply, freezing might work in the long term.
Different foods will freeze for different amounts of time, so bearing this in mind when freezing is essential. If you know that your food won’t last longer than a few months, you should consider labeling it to always be in the know.
Dehydration is an excellent option for food preservation if you own a dehydrator. For example, this OSTBA Food Dehydrator Machine (available on Amazon.com) has adjustable temperature settings and even comes with a handy recipe book.
Dehydration might need a one-time investment, but this method can preserve your foods for up to a year, giving you ample time to enjoy them. Additionally, dehydrated foods don’t have to be refrigerated; as long as you leave them in a cool, dry place, they should last you a while.
Since most people associate bacteria with nasty illnesses, fermentation sounds like a scary word. However, fermentation is an excellent way to conserve foodstuffs.
This may surprise you, but we actually eat fermented foods all the time. Cultured yogurt is fermented, and of course, sauerkraut also goes through a process of fermentation.
Additionally, many alcoholic beverages have been fermented.
You can make your own sauerkraut at home using just three simple ingredients:
- Purple cabbage
You can also add spices to your homemade sauerkraut, and you only have to ferment it for up to 10 days. You can store your sauerkraut in a sealed, clean jar in a cool, dark place for months at a time.
Additionally, fermentation releases healthy bacteria that are great for your digestive system. On the flip side, canning destroys this healthy bacteria. This means it is more beneficial to use fermentation as a preservation process rather than canning since you’ll reap the rewards of the good bacteria that grows in fermented foods.
Dry canning is not safe and should be avoided, especially for home canning purposes. Instead, you should try to use other canning methods such as pressure canning or one of the alternative solutions mentioned in this article. Safely preserving food prevents spoilage and avoids the possibility of illness from improperly-preserved foods.
Try dehydration or fermenting if you don’t have access to stable refrigeration, and you’ll soon have a pantry full of preserved foods that are safe to eat and tasty to boot.