Dry canning is a phrase I had never heard, nor had my canning expert husband, until a year ago. I am the dehydrating queen, but canning is just not my thing. My husband keeps reminding me about the need to cross-train on our skills. He is right, of course, but there is just so much involved with canning that if one little tiny thing goes wrong, you have wasted all your food and time – way too much pressure for this culinary novice. But, much to my delight, I discovered how simple the process is for canning crackers and bread.
I have canned just about all varieties of crackers now. Every time I come across a great sale, I stock up and grab some Mason jars. Making crackers from scratch is actually extremely easy, and a great way to avoid GMOs and preservatives. (See recipe at end of story.) Homemade crackers appear to dry can just as easily as their store bought peers.
How To Make Your Own Crackers
Make approximately 100 crackers quickly and cheaply in your own kitchen. This recipe can be adapted to include various seasonings and cheese-flavored crackers, as well.
What You Need
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose or whole grain flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 cup of water
- 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- Optional toppings: 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, or 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds, or a mix together all of the above and cheese powder for a very flavorful experience.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the rack on the lowest level of the oven.
- Sprinkle the baking sheet with flour and set aside until needed.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk together the sugar, salt and flour.
- Pour in the water and oil. Stir the cracker mixture until a sticky dough is formed. If the mixture is too dry or a lot of flour remains around the bowl and on the dough, add one tablespoon of water at a time until the desired stickiness is present.
- Divide in half and set one half aside. On a lightly floured work surface, pat the dough into a square shape with your hands.
- Work form the center of the dough and roll into a rectangle shaped approximately 1/8-inch thick.
- Sprinkle the dough with additional desired toppings. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with water.
- Cut the dough into cracker shapes using either a sharp knife or a pizza cutter. The cracker shapes should be about 1-inch by 2-inches. If little ones are helping, hand them a cookie cutter and make some fun-shaped crackers.
- Use a spatula or scraper to transfer the crackers to the baking sheet. Prick all of the crackers with a fork to prevent them from becoming too puffy during baking.
- Bake the homemade crackers for 12 to 15 minutes in the oven. The edges should look lightly browns. Prepare the second tray of crackers for baking while the first batch is in the oven.
- Tips – Dried herbs and chili powder are also popular cracker toppings. If cheese crackers are preferable and you have not dehydrated and powdered your own cheese already, simply add 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese to the flour mixture. Set your food processor to pulse mode and do not press stop until the mixture looks something like corn meal.
How to Dry Can Crackers
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
- Place the crackers in a clean Mason jar; fill it as full as possible without breaking the crackers.
- Put the lid on the jar, but do not tighten.
- Place the Mason jars filled with crackers on a baking sheet; do not allow the glass jars to touch.
- Bake 15 minutes for a single 1-pint Mason jar, 30 minutes for a single quart jar, and 45 minutes for a large half-gallon jar.
- Remove from oven carefully; if the glasses touch they could crack. Tighten the lids — best to keep your oven mitts on during this stage, and then allow to cool.
I typically lower my oven rack and bake six jars at a time near the base of the oven. The shelf life of canned crackers should be at least 10 years. Follow the same inspection procedure used during typical canning to make sure the food is safe to eat. Although I have never tried it, some homesteading pals have successfully dry canned pancake mix, muffin mix, corn meal and flour in the same manner.
How to Dry Can Bread
- Have at the ready wide-mouth pint size canning jars and lids.
- In a bowl, mix any bread recipe you like, even ones which contain fruit or vegetables such as zucchini, apple or banana varieties. You may want to substitute shortening in the recipe with vegetable or olive oil for longevity purposes.
- Grease the jars with shortening all the way around the inside thoroughly.
- Pour the bread mixture into the jar – only fill the jars up halfway.
- Place the jars onto a baking sheet, once again making sure that the glass does not touch.
- Bake the bread at 325 degrees for 45 minutes – do not put the lids on the Mason jars.
- Do the standard toothpick test to make sure the bread is done before removing it from the oven. If the toothpick does not come out clean, add a few minutes to bake time and check again.
- Wipe the mouth of the Mason jars clean with a cloth and firmly attach the lids. As the jars cool, the lids will seal themselves. Dry canned bread is expected to stay as fresh as the day you made it for at least a year.
Let Them Eat Cake
Cake in a jar recipes have become extremely popular with folks who have a loved one serving overseas in the military. Dry canning a delicious sweet treat is just as quick and easy as preserving crackers and bread in the same manner.
- Wash wide-mouth pint Mason jars.
- Mix your favorite cake recipe in the usual fashion.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you are using a box mix or recipe with a different temperature, ignore the instructions and go with the advised dry canning heat setting.
- Thoroughly coat the inside of the Mason jars with cooking spray or shortening.
- Pour the batter in the jars to the hallway point. As with the bread, the cake dough needs space to rise.
- Place the jars on a baking sheet – not touching one another.
- Bake for 30 minutes, do the toothpick test, and remove the cake in a jar when the pick comes out clean.
- While the cake in a jar is baking, boil the lids in a pot of water and attach them firmly with a ring once the treats come out of the oven. Make sure to pat the lids dry and wipe any batter from the jar mouth before affixing.
- If the cake rises above the jar, just gently push the cooked batter down with a large spoon before attaching the lid. Put the lids on directly after taking the cake in a jar out of the oven.
- The shelf life of the cake in a jar is debatable, but at least one month is feasible.