I was looking for a way to store the tomatoes I had dried. My instructions said stored at 60 degrees they would be best for 3 to 4 months. I started my search and found this process called oven canning. Oven canning is a wonderful way to store grains, flour, cereal, dried beans and all the foods which are dehydrated.
I know you are thinking why should I can cereal? In these times, there are lots of people stockpiling and this is a great way to be sure your investment will be a good investment. I just purchased a box of graham cracker crumbs for one dollar. I oven canned the crumbs in pint jars. I open a pint jar, make a pie crust and if there are any extra crumbs store them in the jar with the lid and band. They will keep until I need the crumbs again.
When dehydrating fruits and vegetables if you are in question about having dried them enough the oven canning process takes away the fear of moisture being in the veggies or fruits. I dry my tomatoes and put them in jars with lids on them. I do watch the jars to be sure there is no moisture on the inside. When I have enough to fill the oven, I can them.
I use my canning jars and 2 part lids. If you are going for long term storage I would suggest you use new lids. I was told to reuse lids for short term storage and everything I have processed the lids have worked very good. All of my jars have sealed and remained sealed until I opened them. I only do short term storage about 6 months to 1 year. I have friends who are doing long term storage. They check the jars on a regular basis to see if the seals are holding.
I have jars from 1/4 pint to 1/2 gallon. I use all the sizes of canning jars. My spinach flakes, which I add to soups and dressings, I put in 1/4 pint jars. I did an assortment of tomato sizes. When purchasing dried fruits I use pints. Flour goes into the half gallon jar. Do not pack the flour. I do not pack anything to the point of being tight. I feel the warm air need to circulate. I fill my jars, I do not stuff them.
The oven temperature is 200 degrees F., preheat the oven. I put a baking sheet in the oven and after I have filled my jars I place them on the baking sheet. You will process the canning for 1 hour. After the hour is up, I take the first jar out of the oven wipe the rim with a damp paper towel, put the lid on and screw the band tightly. (Just as if you were doing any other canning.) And continue this process until I have all of the jars with lids and bands. I turn the oven off after I take out all of the jars. I place them in a safe place to cool and cover with a towel. You will hear the jars seal and after 12 hours check to be sure they have all sealed. I remove the bands and store in a cool and dark place.
PLEASE NOTE, The jars are very hot when they come out of the oven. You need to use the same safe handling procedures you use with any other canning. Do not heat the lids as they would be wet and add moisture to your dried product which may cause mold.
I opened a jar of tomatoes last week, the tomatoes were easy to cut into small pieces with my scissors. I did not use all of them, replaced the lid and I have a few for something else.
I am so glad I learned of this process, this summer I will dehydrate more for I know how to store my wonderful veggies and fruits. My stockpiling friends, I shared this process with are having a great time filling their pantries.
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