Friday, November 16, 2012

Canning Jars Are Not Essential to Storing

Extended Light Exposure Damages Dehydrated Foods

The cucumber slices on the left were exposed to regular room light for about six months.  The cucumber slices on the right have not been exposed to constant light. 

If you are considering buying an attachment
for your vacuum pack machine in order to store your foods, please think again.

This leads to a potential problem I see developing by some people who are dehydrating their foods. I see so many people who are seem to think that using vacuum-packed canning jars to store their dehydrated foods is as necessary as the dehydrator itself.  

Yes, they are nice, and yes, they do have a limited function, but they are not essential for storing your foods. There are some folks who will disagree with me, but I feel it’s important, especially for the newbie to understand that this is not a REQUIREMENT for dehydrating foods.   

Why don’t you want to use them?
  • They take up a substantial amount of space on your shelves.
  • They are expensive, far more expensive than vacuum pack or freezer zip bags.
  • The attachment for your vacuum pack machine is expensive and an unnecessary expense.
  • They are easily broken.
  • There is the temptation to leave them on display somewhere in your kitchen. If left sitting out and exposed constantly to light, they can ruin your dehydrated foods.  I see so many people who put their pretty jars of food on display. This is very bad for your food.  You must NOT do this. 
    • It’s all right to leave it out for a few minutes while you are using the container, but hours on end is bad for the food.  Dehydrated foods need to be stored in a cool, dark place.
  • They are heavy and difficult to transport, should you need to evacuate your home in an emergency. 
  • “I don’t plan on evacuating,” you say…
    • What if there is a major fire in your area threatening your home? This can happen in both city and rural settings.
    • A major storm such as Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy may require that you leave.
    • In either situation, if your dehydrated foods fill hundreds of pounds of canning jars, you will have to abandon all that food and all your hard work to whatever disaster might happen.  By keeping the bulk of your food in lightweight vacuum bags that take up minimal space, you can protect most of your foods and take it with you.
    • See my post This is Really Important
The best and most practical use for canning jars are:
  • Most of your food is stored in a cool dark place, but for convenience sake, you have a few jars of the things you use most often in the cabinet.
  • If you want to set up a few jars as gifts for friends and family, they might be useful, as long as you include instructions and a warning NOT to leave it exposed to light.
That being said, you do not need to vacuum pack those jars every time you open them.  It just isn’t necessary.  I’ve kept food in pickle jars for years in my cabinet, taking a cup or two as needed.   

For most things, I simply store them in freezer zip bags in a box or drawer in the spare room until I have enough ingredients to put together one-dish meals. Some things have kept for years just find in this manner.

  • See my post on How to Put  Together a Dehydrated Casserole and MRE Soup: Thermos Bottle Cookery for suggestions on how to do this.
Remember, people have been dehydrating foods for thousands of years before electricity. They managed just fine by keeping their foods in a cool dark place. It needs to be secure from insect and other pests and it needs to be kept in a moisture proof environment. 

The least expensive and most practical way to store your foods after you have vacuum packed the bags is to store them in food-safe plastic buckets. 

One of the major reasons to dehydrate foods (besides the nutrition factor) is economy. You shop for bargains and buy the most economical foods you can find.  It doesn’t make sense to go out and spend large quantities of money on jars, rings, lids, and attachments for your machine if you don’t need to. 

You can do what you like, but just know that vacuum sealing everything in canning jars is not necessary.



  1. My thoughts too. I do it by putting things in the buckets. I do can but don't store my dehydrated food that way. Thanks for this helpful article.

    1. I've had so many people excited about using canning jars, but until I found that package of exposed cukes, I had no way to convince them about how bad it can be.