Feb222013

23 Comments

VIDEO: How to store dry foods in canning jars

068There’s a whole slew of things that I want included in my food storage pantry, but many of them don’t lend themselves well to the canning process (chocolate!), can’t be dehydrated (walnuts!), or aren’t a great candidate for the classic 5-gallon bucket (sunflower seeds!).

Packing these foods in canning jars and then using a vacuum sealer, such as a Food Saver, to store them long-term is super easy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A vacuum sealer. I use the Food Saver just because they’re readily available in stores such as Walmart and Target as well as on Craigslist and eBay and because its accessories are also easy to find.
  2. An accessory hose that connects the vacuum sealer to the jar sealer. This hose came with my Food Saver
  3. A jar sealer, either wide-mouth or regular-mouth, depending on the jars I’m using.
  4. Canning jars with lids (no need to use the rims)
  5. Dry food

I demonstrate this simple process in this video:

Here are just a few things that can be vacuum packed using this method:

  • nuts and seeds
  • flaked coconut
  • chocolate
  • coffee beans
  • shortening
  • salt
  • small amounts of any dry food for people storing food for just one or two persons
  • bread crumbs
  • grains
  • dry milk
  • raisins and other dried fruit

You could also vacuum pack small metal items, such as sewing needles, that might rust in a humid environment.

Just be sure to store these jars in a dark location and take precautions against breakage.

 

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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(23) Readers Comments

  1. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love your website and check it every day. I have a question about this article, please. I had read previously on the net that nuts couldn’t be stored long term other than freezing because of the oils. Also I remember reading that if they are stored in “oxygen free” containers they could be dangerous. Does this not apply with a vaccum sealer? Just wondering… I’m trying learn all this stuff, but it can be confusing. Thanks.

    • Grammy, I haven’t seen that information anywhere. Do you remember where you read it? I’ve checked with some websites of extension offices and they mention freezing and refrigerating nuts but don’t include a warning against vacuum packing or removing oxygen from containers of nuts. If I can find my copy of “Putting Food By”, I’ll see if contains any information about this. Oxygen, heat, and light are the elements that will cause nuts to go bad, so I’m not sure why the removal of oxygen would be a bad thing. If I read anything more about this, either way, I’ll post it.

      • There are several sites that confirm that nuts go rancid in long term storage. Here is a simple explanation from homecooking.com: “Due to their high oil content, nuts can quickly turn rancid if not stored properly. For long-term storage, it is best to buy unshelled nuts and store them in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months or freeze up to 1 year.” Even with O2 packs, they will go rancid because of the oil.

        I love my vacuum jar sealers. As Stephen said, there is a bit of a learning curve. If you are storing powders, don’t fill the jar up completely. The powder will suck into the lid and not allow a proper seal. A quick fix for that is to add a small coffee filter in the jar.

        Barbara, I’d think that shortening would also go rancid because of the high oil content.

      • Sorry, but it took me a while to find the site where I read about food not to store without oxygen. Here is the info – of course I guess they could be wrong, but it is from the lds.org.

        http://www.lds.org/topics/food-storage/longer-term-food-supply?lang=eng

        Dry Products for Longer-Term Food Storage
        Products intended for longer-term storage must be dry (about 10% or less moisture content).
        Warning: Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen.
        Dry products that are not suitable for longer-term storage due to moisture content, oils, or other concerns include:
        Nuts, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Flour, Milled Grains(other than rolled oats), Pearled Barley…

        There are other foods listed on site, also. Thans.

  3. We’ve been doing dry vacuum sealing for several years now, and it works great. Here’s a couple of points that come to mind:

    1) It takes more than just setting the attachment on top of the jar and starting the vacuum sealer. It takes a bit of practice to get it to work right. Removing the attachment has to be done carefully to avoid pulling the lid off with it. It could be that we are just using an old design and they may have made improvements since then.

    2) If you’re vacuum sealing seeds, make sure they are intended just for eating and not for planting. Remember that seeds are a living organism in sort of a state of suspended animation. If there is any air inside the seed when you pull a vacuum, that air will rapidly expand and damage or kill the seed. A vacuum would have to be done very slowly to avoid that. (On a separate note, that’s a good reason to never buy the “garden in a can” mixes that are sold as “vacuum packed”. It sounds great, but seed viability is not going to be good.)

    Also, regarding the sea salt – when we bought our large package of sea salt, here is what the company recommended: “In order to preserve optimal freshness and taste, we recommend that you store Celtic Sea Salt in a glass, wood or ceramic container with a loose fitting lid.” Vacuum sealing it might not be the best choice for storage.

  4. What constitutes a long period of time?

    • It really depends on the food and other storage conditions. Even by vacuum packing these jars, or any other container, if the food is then stored in a location that gets warm or if they’re exposed to light, they will deteriorate faster. By deteriorate, I mean they can lose their color, texture, flavor, and/or nutrients. Those don’t make the food inedible in most cases, and they would continue to provide some nourishment, but they wouldn’t be in peak condition.

  5. Thanks for making and posting this “how to” video. I have used this method for years and LOVE IT!

    Some additional items I’ve placed in vacuum sealed jars are:
    tea bags
    sweetener packets (Truvia, Splenda, etc.)
    hot chocolate mix
    Tang
    lemonade & Kool Aid mixes
    Gatorade (store bought and homemade)
    dehydrated fruits (strawberries, apples, bananas, etc.)
    dehydrated veggies (mushrooms, onions, celery, etc.)
    dried herbs (too many to list)
    Meal in a Jar (I have my favorite dry potato soup mix in 1 quart jars)

    Another suggestion:
    Ball makes 64 oz. jars with a wide mouth. They can be vacuum sealed using the wide mouth adapter. You can purchase them through Ace Hardware. They’re a little over $2 per jar and can be delivered to your local Ace store with free shipping.

    (One of my 64 oz. jars has 2 packages of Hershey’s mini assorted candy bars packed in it. I grabbed them on sale about 2 years ago and seal those little treasures up tight! I’m tempted to write “Emergency Chocolate ~ Break when SHTF” on the jar! LOL ;) )

    http://www.acehardware.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=1259950

  6. I have been wondering for some time about desiccants. They are used in medicine bottles; why are they not used in food storage? I do know they are not to be eaten, but it seems like they might be helpful in the storage of salt, sugar, and other things that require the moisture to be kept low. Yet they are NEVER mentioned in food storage, and I am wondering why. Can you help?

    • Desiccants protect against moisture and usually when foods are well-packed, that isn’t an issue. However, if you live in a humid climate, definitely add a desiccant packet to food that you pack yourself, either in buckets, jars, or mylar bags, just to be on the safe side since moisture deteriorates food and can cause mold to form. You’re right about desiccants not harming the food and you can buy the type that can be used over and over again.

  7. Another interesting thing you can do, is to use.an odd sized glass jar, with the pop-up lid you saved from other foods, like soups, gravies, etc. These will fit into the vacuum cannisters with your dry food in them, and the lid on snuggly, then vacuum the cannister, and your jar inside is sealed, too. This is in the instructions with the cannisters. Another good thing to vacuum pack are herbs and spices. Just another way to multiply your free resources… I have dried fruit that is in perfect condition that I sealed 10 years ago.

  8. Does this work for dehydrated fruits? I tried the vacuum seal bags but the edges of the completely dry fruit are sharp and cut the bag. I was hoping a jar attachment would solve this problem.

  9. Great video, Lisa!! I vacuum seal all my herbs and spices. I just wanted to add that if you have the attachment for the regular mouth jars, it will also fit on the little 4oz jars. I store a lot of the herbs and spices that I don’t use often in the little jars. Also, you can buy the plastic storage lids to fit the canning jars when you’re using whatever you have stored in the jar often. So if you find yourself cooking a lot (like during the holidays) you don’t have to keep opening your sealed jar for whatever spice you need. Then after your cooking frenzy is over you can vacuum seal the spice right in the same jar.

  10. What about legumes? Would this work for them as well? Can they also be sealed in the vacuum bags for storing smaller amounts?

  11. I always have trouble with my regular size lids sealing. Wide mouth usually seal fine. Read somewhere to put an extra lid inside jar sealing attachment, with seal away from the actual lid for the jar. It works!

  12. JENNIFER: I completely agree…..I do a similar thing with everything that I purchase in bulk–trying to keep things fresh. BTW, are you from the midwest? When I saw your pic you looked instantly familiar??? I know I’ve seen you before!

  13. Have you actually tried vacuum packing shortening? Are there any special things you have to do since it’s not “dry”? I have some high priced non-hydrogenated stuff I’d love to keep useable long-term.

  14. Awesome! I own a Foodsaver and use it quite a bit … I bought it one late night and happened to come across a great deal on QVC. I have been using it ever since … love it when my local supermarket has great deals on beef when you buy in bulk. I can use my Foodsaver to pack them in smaller sizes mean more for a single dinner for our family.

    I also have the attachments for canning as well. They work great.

  15. I too have recently been vacuum sealing a variety of dry food items such as cake mixes, baking mixes, chocolate chips, instant mashed potatoes, and instant oatmeal. I have learned the hard way never to attempt to vacuum can fine powders such as baking powder and cocoa powder (the machine sucks some of the powder inside the machine and this causes the machine to fail). Drink mixes and instant milk powders seem to be coarse enough not to get sucked up into the machine. Also discovered that it is nearly ipossible to use oxygen absorber packets to vacuum can those fine powders too — when you put in the packets this causes some of the powder to get on the jar rims and lids and prevents a seal from forming even when you wipe the rims and lids. My next step is to use FoodSaver bags to vacuum seal unopened small containers of baking power and cocoa powder and then seal those bags in mylar with oxygen absorbers — not ideal, but the only way I can think to provide some sort of oxygen barrier. If anyone has found a reliable way to vacuum seal baking powder and cocoa powder, I’d love to hear it.

  16. Hi, this is new to me, I am curious though why would you vacuum seal the dry foods and also put them in the jar? Does it help it last longer? thanks?

  17. Hi! I just found your website today and am enjoying looking through it. I just have to add to the conversation about vacuum sealing mason jars. About a year ago, Survival Blog posted an article I wrote entitled “How to Extend the Shelf Life of Food and Save on Groceries” in which I describe a method of vacuum sealing without using the pricey Foodsaver machine. Although you do use the Foodsaver jar adapters, you simply use a Ziplock manual pump. After my article was published, Paula from “Salad in a Jar” blog made a really nice video showing my method. Here is the link: http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/family-recipes/how-to-vacuum-pack-salad-in-a-jar-for-less-than-6-plus-a-video. I have been doing this for a year and the jars seal easily and stay sealed!

  18. I too, would like to know if vacuum sealing dry beans, peas, and other types of legumes would work. If so, about how long will they keep if kept in a cool dark place?

    Thanks in advance,

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